There is a large untapped potential to develop retail store services in East-Asian developing countries, as their population living conditions improve rapidly. Using a large sample of small stores in Malaysia, this paper disentangles the factors affecting individual store’s performance, thus attempting to quantify such potential. There are three main results. First, successful stores are rather widely spread across Malaysia; i.e., the richest States do not generally take a higher share of them. Second, the most prominent factors of success across all type of stores is product diversification: the higher the better. Third, as concerns the role of competition (i.e., the number of direct competitors), it is highly sensitive to the kind of store: while it is rather irrelevant overall, it is strongly negative for consumer health stores and for convenience stores, which represent about one third of our sample. In a case study related to the two largest traded specific products for which we have information on product price and location, we find that store competitiveness is correlated with price, distance to competition, and nearby facilities.