Table of contents
A retail business sells products directly to consumers from a location such as a storefront, a mobile kiosk or an online shop.
This guide will give you general information and regulations for operating an independent retail business. For information on buying a franchise, visit the Canadian Franchise Association website or call them at 1-800-665-4232.
Choosing a location
For most businesses, choosing an appropriate location is critical. Your ideal location will depend on your business needs, zoning restrictions and where your customers and competitors are. Taxes, noise and the local business environment are also important factors to consider when reviewing your options.
Choosing and setting up a location
Contact your local municipality to determine which zoning requirements will apply to your location before you start selling. Visit the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) website for a listing of municipalities.
Association of Municipalities of Ontario
If you plan to have an online presence for your business there are specific legal requirements to follow, such as providing secure credit and debit card transactions, charging taxes to customers outside of Ontario and creating contracts at a distance.
Selecting your inventory
Your inventory is made up of the products you have in stock. Managing your inventory accurately will show you which products are in demand and which ones are not selling. Keeping track of what you sell can make it easier to determine which products to stock.
Selecting your supplier
A supplier provides the products you need to run your business. Finding the right suppliers and managing your relationship with them is an important part of running a retail business.
Your retail business may need to follow several different regulations depending on your products and activities, including:
Consumer product labelling (non-food)
There are labelling standards for everyday consumer products (like t-shirts, office supplies and pet food) that you need to know about before you begin selling products.
The Competition Bureau regulates labelling for most “non-food” consumer products. To learn more about the rules for packaging, labelling and advertising your products, contact the Competition Bureau directly or refer to the following link:
Contact the Competition Bureau:
The Competition Bureau also publishes individual guides on labelling requirements for certain business activities and consumer products. Refer to the following guides if you need more information on a specific aspect of labelling:
Labelling - packaging consumer products (non-food)
Learn about your responsibilities when packaging and labelling consumer products (including pet food).
Made in Canada
Learn about the rules and regulations for using claims like "Designed in Canada" or "Made in Canada" to promote your products.
"Product of Canada" and "Made in Canada" claims
If you are selling textile products such as clothes, carpets or upholstery within Canada, the product must be labelled appropriately.
The label on your products must show the fibre content information in both English and French. The Canadian manufacturer, processor or finisher must be identified either through a CA Number (for Canadian dealers only) or by listing their complete business name and postal address.
For specific textile labelling requirements, visit the Competition Bureau website.
If you plan on selling lottery products on behalf of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), or selling break-open tickets, you must be registered with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).