Choosing a retail location for your new venture can seem like a daunting task.
There are a lot of factors requiring careful consideration to ensure you get the right location that will give you the maximum amount of traffic and exposure. Here are a few things to consider as you search for that perfect location.
Retail is driven by demographics. However, don't get too caught up in the overall demographics around the locations you are considering. Brokers and Landlords will attempt to stupefy you with amazing demographic rings to demonstrate the size and strength of the market in the 1, 3, and 5 mile rings around the retail development.
Instead, try to nail down specific demographics relevant to your store. For instance, if you are focused on selling products to teenagers you probably don't care about all of the high net-worth retirees living within five miles of your store – find out about your specific population. As you look at a site try to get into the nitty gritty of who lives in the area to see if your clientele would have good access to your store.
Aside from the demographics of who lives in the area, you want to know who actually shops at this location. As long as it's not a brand new development, there will be operating history. Look around at the tenants in the center focusing on successful stores that are complements to yours. Their success is a good indicator of that particular development's strength in your target demographic.
Try to get information on the traffic volume at each development you are considering and compare them against each other. Unless you feel you can generate an extremely loyal following, you will be dependent on the traffic generated by other stores in the development.
Talk To Complement Stores
Don't feel restricted to speaking with only the Landlord and/or Broker as you make your decision. Visit the site by yourself, walk around, and talk with some of the managers of complement locations. Get a feel for how they are doing and whether they like the location and the management. This is especially useful when speaking to chain operations. These managers will know exactly where they stand in relation to other locations in the area. So if there's some chain like a Jamba Juice around, ask them how they do here in comparison to their other locations in the region. Find out where the hot spots are.
Specific Store Location
Be sure to spend some time in the specific location where you will be leasing and observe the actual foot traffic patterns. If you are leasing in a hidden corner of a strip mall it might not matter if there's a Wal-Mart in the center. You simply may not get traffic where you are. Conversely, being between the Super Target and the Pet Store might be just what the doctor ordered as kids drag their parents (and their groceries) over to see the new shipment of puppies. You may nab some shoppers along the way.
Finally, give the benefit of the doubt to established retail locations. A new development may boom and bust as people try it out and then fade away. An established location with a long track record of successful stores is much more reliable than a trial location. Take that into account when you select where you will place your store for the next few years.