Water Stores - 3 Critical Considerations When Starting Out
Water stores or water shops (as they are sometimes called) have been popping up across the USA for many years now. Many opportunists see what a gallon of water costs and realize that they can make a 2000% profit… or more. Ah, if it were really that simple. Now, don’t get me wrong – some of these water stores are very successful, but like just about anything in life, there is no secret recipe to operate a successful water store. Like everything in life, it involves hard work and great attention to the little details.
I have been involved with water stores across the country for many years as both a seller of water filtration products and as a consultant. I have discovered a few things that I feel are vitally important, here is a list of the top three.
1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
It is imperative that the store be located in an area where there is a lot of foot traffic and/or easy access to parking and loading and unloading of bottles. A busy shopping center with plenty of parking and ease of access is generally a good choice as is a busy street with plenty of foot traffic. This is especially true if it is a highly populated area with apartments and condos. I had one water store owner tell me that the location he wanted was $5,000.00 a month and he could not afford it, so he opted for a place that was not a good location for $3,000.00 a month. Sadly, he is no longer in business. Location isn’t everything, but it’s a really, really big thing!
One of the most important things I have observed is that the most successful water stores are impeccably clean. They almost have a “clean room” or laboratory look. No carpet, no drapes, just clean and shiny flooring, tile, and surfaces. Stainless steel is great, but not always necessary. Some companies sell “water filling stations” that are stainless steel with grates and faucets with a “high-tech” look. That’s OK, but they can pricey.
Check with your local health department to see what codes or ordinances might apply and make sure you comply with their mandates. They need to be your ally, not an enemy. Get their opinions on what materials may work the best. Some of the most successful water stores I have seen had “homemade water filling stations.”
Instead of using stainless steel, they have used fiberglass reinforced plastic, tile, or a similar type of material for the surfaces of their “filling stations.” One brand that seems to be popular is Marlight (https://www.marlite.com/). If you have the means to build dispensing stations yourself, you can save a considerable amount of money.
Not only do you want to be meticulously clean, but you also absolutely have to be sanitary. As the water is being dispensed, you need to make sure that the faucets or dispensers will not harbor any bacteria. This can be done with the use of ultraviolet light and/or ozone. In fact, it is always a good idea to ozonate the water before it is dispensed. Ozone dissipates quickly, but ozonated water is sterile and offers protection from airborne bacteria as well as accidental touching of the dispensing area.
I would strongly encourage the use of UV air disinfection and even UV bulbs that produce a small percentage of ozone. This keeps the dispensing area clean and pleasant for customers. It’s OK to get a small “whiff” of ozone, but not to the point of being overwhelming – that is not healthy. Most bottling operations have that smell of ozone in the air.
3. VISIBLE PURIFICATION PROCESS
If you are going to hand someone money for water, I’ll bet you would be a lot more convinced to do that if you saw that they had some type of high tech amazing-looking, impressive water treatment equipment! I would even go a step further and make sure that the equipment was on display. I urge anyone who is opening a water store to put their purification system “front and center.” I suggest that you build a room that is mostly glass where you can install your water treatment system.
At US Water Systems, we have a system that is perfect for any water store. It is called our Patriot Turnkey Reverse Osmosis system. It is compact and very impressive in function as well as form. It is a complete water treatment system with granular activated carbon, catalytic carbon, antiscalants, 5 and 1-micron filters, UV, distribution pump, and tank float assembly. It is mounted on a frame with casters so that it is easily installed and moved.
The Patriot is available in three (3) sizes:
Like any reverse osmosis system, those ratings are at 60 psi and 77 degrees F water. It would also take 24 hours of continuous running to product it’s rated volume, so if you thought you needed 2,500 gallons a day, I would suggest at least a 4,000 GPD model, but if it were me, I would go with the largest one, as it would run less, last longer and use less electricity.
The Patriot is a low-energy (it operates at 100 psi or lower) reverse osmosis system, unlike other brands that operate at 200 to 250 psi. It also is up to 80% efficient, meaning it only wastes 1 gallon of water for every 4 gallons it makes.
All you do is add a tank. It can be a stainless steel tank or a translucent tank. If you are using a translucent tank, you can install blue LED lights inside, so that the tanks glow a nice color of blue. That is a real attention-getter.
The Patriot Turnkey Reverse Osmosis System is “plug n play.” Just add a tank and you are done. There is no right answer as to whether you should use stainless steel or a poly tank. I guess that if you pressed me, I would opt for the poly tank for three (3) reasons:
It is less expensive;
You can see if there is anything inside that doesn’t belong; and
I really like the LED light effect.
Next, the water flows out of the tank, and through an ultraviolet light to kill any bacteria. At the point of dispensing, you would usually have a bladder tank and an ozone generator to Enright the water with ozone so as to kill any bacteria, both airborne or surface.
The Alkaline Water Option
Alkaline water is a very popular buzzword right about now, but many or even most stores selling it are not really selling “true” alkaline water. They may add some minerals back in or raise the pH slightly, but it is not TRULY Alkaline water. I believe that over 50% of water store customers would purchase alkaline water if they had the choice.
US Water Systems has the revolutionary Livation Hydration Technology system that produces true alkaline water. It accomplished all of the following:
Uses far-infrared balls to emit minerals
Increases the pH of the filtered water typically to between 8.5 – 10.0
Changes the oxidation-reduction potential of the water (ORP) to between -100mV and -200mV
Reduces the sizes of the clusters of water molecules (re-structures) so that the water is easily absorbed in the body
It also puts beneficial alkaline minerals into the water, such as calcium, potassium, magnesium.
Adds molecular hydrogen with antioxidant potential
We monitor the water quality without Livation Control Center (featured right) which monitors pH, TDS, and ORP. This enhances the customer's experience, justifies a higher price for alkaline water, and increases the overall “curb appeal” of the water store. Alkaline water should absolutely be part of any successful water store.
Of course, there are a number of other items you might sell, such as bottles of all sizes, glass bottles, stainless steel bottles, gallon just, 2.5-gallon bottles, and 5-gallon bottles. You can even use your RO water to produce and sell ice. Then there are water dispensers and many other related items.
You will have some customers for life and others for a period of time, but some will soon realize that they can make their own water at home. As a successful water store owner, it is wise to offer options to your customers. These options can include filters and Reverse Osmosis drinking water systems that you or your customer can install and for which you can supply the filters to change every six months to one year. You can even offer installation and in-home filter change service. You worked hard for that customer, by selling systems you can keep that customer for life.
US Water Systems offers a line of Private-Label RO and Alkaline RO systems to select, qualified water stores. Please call (800) 608-8792 for details