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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Location, location.... LOCATION

The location of your new, brick and mortar business is extremely important and should be considered carefully.  In the past Harrach Stained Glass did extensive research where to locate our own retail stained glass store.  There are many factors to take in consideration such as, what type of business do I plan to operate, and is there near-by competition.  Keep in mind that we are sharing this information with our stained glass readers but you will find that this information works just as well for any type of business!

The best way to find your competition is to go online and Google the type of store, (or items you plan on selling),  close to the location where you intend to operate your store.  So for an example, go to Google and type in,  "stained glass store Denver Colorado".  You'd be surprised at how easily you will be able to find all of those businesses in that Googled area!  You can also go to the online website of the state government where you intend to open your business and check its business license directory.  Remember, you don't want to open your store close to your competition, in most cases it will be difficult and slow going to begin with if you do that.  On the other hand, here in the Pacific Northwest USA, we see Starbucks and other coffee shops side by side, so WHAT type of product, pricing and quality, even luck are also very important aspects to running a successful business.

Will your store cater to tourists or locals?  Locals will find your store easily from either the phone book, friends or just from driving by.  Tourists will probably only find your store if it is located in an area of town where tourists shop, typically an old town main street or near a well known landmark.  As your business becomes successful, it is possible for tourists to seek you out, but when starting out, that probably won't be the case.

Look for good parking, signs, lighting and of course, a good amount of traffic on the street where you want your store situated.  Some side streets are excellent in a heavy tourist area where there is a lot of foot traffic.

Zoning laws are important to follow in most communities.  If you plan on manufacturing and selling your art in the same location, you must find out through the local zoning board if that is permitted in the desired location.  You will notice that in some older historic districts where there are many art galleries, no one is actually creating the art on the premises because of zoning.  You don't want to sign a lease on a retail location only later to discover that you can't do everything you wanted to do in that location!

Floor space and the amount of display windows are both very important factors.  Display windows are, in our opinion, the most important feature of an excellent retail location.  Floor space needs to be large enough to comfortably house your merchandise but not be overwhelmingly large.  If the store has too much non-utilized space, it will appear to your customers to be empty and not having inventory to choose from.  A store that is full of inventory, but not overflowing or packed in dangerously, always seems to appear more vibrant and even appears as though the store is quite doing well.  Customers like to look at many different items for sale as opposed to having no choice in merchandise to buy.

Cost vs. location is another important consideration when searching for the best business location.  You will typically find that the best location also has the higher rent.  It never fails!  Even if the building itself isn't the best, if it is in an excellent local, you'll pay for it.  NOW, that isn't exactly bad.  If you could rent a store, lets say, in a prime location, it could be quite lucrative.  Again, research that area.  See how long stores stay in business in an area.

As you can see there are many aspects to opening your own brick and mortar store.  Although it can seem frustrating and confusing in the beginning, it becomes easier as time passes and you become more educated in the subject!  Just remember not to jump into something without thoroughly researching the subject and the location first.  It is much better to lose a prime location than to open in a prime location only to discover you are losing money and have to close.  Closing a store can be financially devastating since there is the possibility of having to continue paying a lease on a location you are no longer using.  Keep this all in mind as we continue our next post with the subject of starting your own business!

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