Welcome to the forum and congratulations on your new business adventure!
Your original question and your comment are a little confusing. I guess you are open to both starting a new business and buying an existing business. Both require totally different avenues when deciding which is best. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about your experiences so far.
As far as business brokers are concerned, let your fingers do the walking. The internet and the yellow pages maybe able to offer you a lead. I agree that word of mouth in this case might be best. Maybe someone on our forum can help you.
Whether you buy an existing store or start one, align yourself with a solid distributor. They can offer you good advice. You want someone that will partner up with you for marketing and product offering. You can google for distributors in your area.
Go visit the stores that you think are the best in the area (you are in WAWA Country) and ask yourself if you can emulate them? can you beat them? why would people come to you rather than someone else?
I would also think that the location has to be a primary consideration. If an existing store is in a great location, expect to see robust sales. If you are selcting a new site, select carefully.
Buying an existing business has certain advantages surely. And from your posting, you seem to understand the value of representation. If it helps, I can provide you a referral and potential acquisition targets. Contact me at your convenience.
Sorry for tuning in on this so late.
As an Operational-Cost Accountant, I see this a lot and especially in the retail industry. There are pros and cons to consider when buying a company. Many buyers simply assume that because the company is unprofitable, it is a bad buy. But the exact inverse exists as well -- just because it is profitable, makes it a good buy.
The truth is, you have to look at the external factors that exists. If a company is profitable because it does a horrible job of tracking its bills -- then its a misrepresentation. Brokers will not check this as they are not accountants; and the accountants they work with specialize in acquisition and merger -- not audits.
The second thing you face is what relationship the listed business had with its vendors and distributors. If it left a smoking trail of ruins and late payments -- you will be inheriting that when you buy the company. So it could leave just as much of a headache and out of pocket expenses as starting a new company.
Finally, you need to look at the costs & quality of the products being sold. Many of my clients come in and see high retail price and they say "I can cut that by fifty cents, I can attract new customers". As an accountant, I see that cut as a potential danger zone because it could cause a "cost-cash crunch".
Meaning, you cut costs to increase cash flow -- but the cash flow is insufficient to cover your expenses so you keep digging yourself into a deeper hole each time you sell an item.
With all of that said, I am not discouraging you from buying a business. But I do think you need to be extremely cautious of what is being sold and why. Do your homework, understand the economic law of "mass economics", and if you can sell items at a higher price and still attract customers.
As for vendors and distributors -- most of them will find you. But wine is always a great place to start as they are connected with almost everybody. So look up a local wine bar -- go in and ask them about the store for sale. Their suppliers and vendors might know why it is being sold -- and of course, they will give you good referrals.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you run into anymore snags.