Further to my last article, I thought I’d expand upon each point in the brief ‘How To’ open a store. If you’ve ever opened a new store, you’ll know how important location is. If only we could ‘build it and they will come’ – that is a retailer’s dream!
If you are trying to expand or relocate, staying close by will aid in keeping existing traffic. Watch traffic flows. It could be very hard to attract new business if turns are limited to one direction, etc. Check out city plans to see if any major route changes could either positively or negatively affect traffic patterns in the future.
Locations with large pylon signs or great frontage could be ideal but watch for extra costs that could be forced upon tenants in the lease. Generally, the better the visibility, the less advertising is needed. The best way is though a fantastic store front that is seen by many.
If it’s a new area you’d like to explore – take a drive. Physically going to the area you’re considering can be eye opening. What kind of businesses already exist? Is there much foot traffic or public transit? Graffiti or litter? What type of homes are near by? Using Canada Post Precision Targeter tools (free software online), will allow you to determine your ideal demographic (by education or income) and build a radius of distance or driving distance to your proposed location. This will give you a better idea of the consumer base you’ll be trying to get into your doors. Are there only 10,000 consumers in your new market or 80,000?
If there are other like-minded retailers or those who target your same demographic (Starbucks, an organic café, yoga studio, etc), then you’re likely to pick up some of that traffic as well. Pay them a visit to see how busy they are and what type of clientele are shopping. Not all traffic is alike: opening next to a dollar store most likely won’t benefit your business. Search out compatible businesses that share your demographic to capitalize on traffic.
Don’t overextend yourself for the ‘perfect’ property. Know your minimum and maximum square footage you require before you go searching. Often times the landlord could be willing to divide the space if it’s too large, or if you have a business plan for a tenant, you could sublet to a complimentary business. If it’s too small from day one, how could you ever plan to grow?
Lastly, speak to your current landlord or spread word thought the realtor network that you’re interested in more space. Quite often you could be privy to upcoming lease space before it is advertised. By reaching the network, you may receive many calls/emails about property but at least you’re “in the know.” You can always say no. Having the first right of refusal or the knowledge of where potential competition could open is invaluable.
Some other things to consider in selecting a location are the number of parking spaces nearby, loading dock or truck access, etc. In the end, there are many factors involved in selecting a new location but don’t ever discount your gut feeling. Good luck! •