Many older houses have large yards, and the neighbourhoods they are in often have streets with mature trees. This type of setting is a wonderful area for small shops, and the long driveways and huge back yards can make excellent parking spaces for customers. Added to that is the retail charm as the new residents upgrade the insides while possibly taming the greenery on the outside. It can make for a good match when local authorities open an area for retail sales.
There are a few drawbacks to this plan, but they can be solved over time. A formerly residential neighbourhood might still contain residents in a few of the houses, and not all of them will be willing to sell. They could also object to the conversion, but enough votes could override them. While they might stubbornly remain in their homes, the change in the neighbourhood could eventually help them choose to move on to a new place.
Retail businesses are about providing for customer needs, and they often work on an individual basis. Any business moving into this type of setting is looking for good customers in a steady flow. They will tend to have boutiques instead of large showrooms, and that fits well into an older residence. While some inside modifications may be necessary, they should be minimal. Fixing up an older home with some damage due to age or weathering could be an issue, but an inspection of the property prior to buying could help the new owners plan for that possibility.
Recycling has become an important facet of modern life, and there is no reason to restrict residential property from it. Smaller cities and towns can find their tax coffers beginning to recover as they make judicious allowances for and rezone abandoned neighbourhoods for small businesses moving into their area.