The lack of easy mobility was often a reason towns were small. Shop owners rarely commuted to work, and they usually lived in an apartment above their shop. When it comes to converting an old building for new use, the remodel could recreate a store and a home. The ground floor could once again be a place of business, and the floor upstairs could once again become an apartment for the business owner. It may sound simple, but an older building can have its share of issues.
Modern life requires a great deal of electricity, and some older buildings may have no wiring at all. Oddly enough, those are often the easiest to convert. Rather than spending money to tear out old and dangerous wiring, only new wiring must be added. It can be tricky to get the work done, but hiding wires in even modern homes is a job most electricians find familiar. Wiring up an old building without the need to pull unsafe wires is a boon in their business.
Modern stores stay open much later than those of previous centuries, so creating two distinct floors can mean adding insulation and sound-proofing. A modern business owner might go home at the end of the afternoon, but their store could stay open well into the evening. Their privacy could be important, so ensuring there is a definite separation between the sales floor and the apartment could be costly but worthwhile.
It may seem as if living and working in the same building would be too much for most people, but many people today work from home. Learning to separate business time and home time is about creating a balance. Those with that ability could find that an easy commute downstairs in the morning is a very suitable way to live their life and run their own business.