If you think you have what it takes to make it as retail store owner, one of the major questions you need to ask yourself is where you want to locate your store. Depending on the source, most retailers fail within the first two to three years of opening. There are many reasons for this but none as significant as choosing your location.
When it comes to retail, there are many options available. Strip malls, regional malls, and life-style centers have been favored by retailers for the past thirty years, but the changing shift to urban lifestyles is creating an opportunity for retailers to once again thrive in an downtown environment.
So, what makes a great space for a new retail store in a urban setting? Consider the following:
- The demographics:
- What to the statistics look like for foot and vehicle traffic?
- What are the store turnover rates?
- What is the median income?
- Are there large employers in the neighborhood?
- The block:
- Is there a business improvement district or neighborhood association to help you market yourself and the street?
- Is there street character and vibrancy?
- Is there access to multi-modal transportation options?
- Are the neighbors successful, long time tenants/owners?
- The property:
- What are the parking requirements?
- What codes and permit restrictions are applied?
- Is the facade welcoming?
- What are the signage guidelines?
- Does the floor plan and space allocation make sense?
Another consideration for retailers in an urban setting, is that there is no management that takes care of marketing or maintenance like you may find in a mall environment. Consider pooling all the retailers of that street or block together to form a group that partners with the city to help promote your property and business goals.
Locating your business in an urban environment helps to foster a sense of history and community that regional and strip malls just can’t offer. The shear age and character of many downtown buildings can’t compete with newly built malls or lifestyle centers in the way of authenticity. Older established neighborhoods with buildings that date to the 1800’s, aged sidewalks and street furniture, have a charm and character that draws people in because of the warmth, quality and sense of community that the street might offer.
Before you commit to a space, align yourself with local organizations that can help you make an informed decision such as a local chamber of commerce, small business coach and an experienced urban architect to put together your business plan and timeline to ensure success in your new venture.
Considering a downtown retail location? OA can help with site selection, visioning, navigating permits and making your retail dream a reality.