It seems every day there are more stories about the changing retail market. Big national chains are not leasing retail space, but are closing stores at a record pace as consumers opt for the convenience of buying their staples online. At the same time, trends such as “small business Saturday” and “shop local” are taking hold in communities across the country as shoppers search for those unique products unavailable from Amazon.
In this changing environment, it can be difficult to determine the right retail space for your business. The popular misconception is that some of the traditional rules no longer apply and potential customers will use the Internet to search and find your business. While the web does make things easier, finding the right retail space is still critical to your success.
Learn some of the do’s and don’ts when leasing retail space:
Before you do anything else, learn all you can about your customer. Who will need or want your product. Consider things like age, gender, income, interests, level of education, family situation, shopping habits and any other specific details that comprise your target customer. Using this information, determine where your target customer is most likely to shop. That is your ideal spot.
The idea of walking to work or owning that neighborhood café is appealing, but when looking for the best location for your business, consider a few options before deciding. Research the area and spend time there yourself; observe the traffic and type of clientele who frequent the spot to ensure they are your target audience. Visibility will help you entice new costumers through your doors as well.
Make it easy for your customers to find you. Leasing locations which allow for reasonable signage and easy access from local streets will welcome your customers instead of frustrating them. Mapping apps are great, but if the potential customer can’t find you or access your store easily, they will still move on.
Your business does not exist in a bubble. Look at the surrounding stores and make sure yours fits the business community. Ask for a leasing plan or site plan (see River West Site Plan as an example). If your shop appeals to families, then locating it next to the new liquor store might not be the best fit. On the positive side, if you are able to position yourself next to the most popular pizza place or a high traffic store, you’ll benefit from their name recognition.
Parking is one of the most common reasons why shoppers choose one store over another. Without adequate parking, preferably free parking, your customers are more likely to simply drive by without stopping. Take note of businesses which can use a disproportionate amount of parking as well, such as a busy restaurant. You can visit the American Planning Association for more information on Site Design and Parking Requirements.
Before you shop for a location, you should have a budget and operating plan. A beautiful space is appealing, but if it’s out of your price range, don’t assume that just offering a gorgeous location for your customers to visit is enough to make up the difference in cost. Do your homework and due diligence.
Once you find the space and are presented with the lease, read it carefully. Every aspect of the lease is negotiable and terms can vary widely even in the same complex. Read the details about how you’ll be charged for the space, utilities, common area maintenance, repairs, taxes, insurance etc. Ask questions and clarify, in writing, anything that seems confusing.
Location is one of the most important considerations when leasing retail space. Your success or failure may hinge on finding the perfect spot. By spending a little time to research and analyze possibilities is one way to ensure you choose the best location for your business.