Finding The Right Retail Location

There are several important factors to take into consideration when choosing a retail location.

Wherever you choose for your location to be will have a major impact on everything that your store does.

What makes this such a big decision is that it can mean business success or failure.

You should define how you think your business will be both now and in the future before choosing a location.

Ask yourself:

  • Can you see what your building will look like?
  • What will your customers look like?
  • What do you want to sell, and what do you want your business to be known for?
  • How much space do you need? Have you determined how much retail space you need, storage and warehouse area, and office space?

These are pretty basic questions, and there are plenty more. We hope to help you get the basics out of the way.

Goods To Be Sold

You need to think about the types of goods you plan on selling because different products will sometimes need different places of location to be sold.

Kind Of Store

What type of store do you plan on opening? Would you be a specialty store (boutique), shopping store, or perhaps a convenience store?

- Specialty Store (boutique):

Goods sold here are more unique than most products. And if they are good enough, customers will make that extra mile trip if it is worth it. This store may do well near other shopping stores.

- Shopping Store:

This type of store usually sells items at a higher price and are not bought very frequently by the customer. Goods sold in a shopping store are usually furniture, upscale clothing, etc. With these types of stores, it is more common for customers to comparison shop, to see if they can find the same thing at a lower price and at the same quality. Because of this, many retailers choose to make their location near other similar stores in order to get a quicker purchase from a customer.

- Convenience Store:

Goods sold in a convenience store require easy access and allow the customer to make a quick purchase. A mall, for instance, would not be the place to put this type of store because it is shopped more frequently and at lower prices.


Research is the key. When making the decision on the state or perhaps city of your retail store, you need to find out information on the area, learn the demographics. Read the local publications, like newspapers, and also walk around and talk to other small business owners.

You can find accurate demographic information from the chamber of commerce, the Census Bureau, or the local library of that town or city. Demographics include the area’s population, age, income, dominate sex, etc. If you already know who you want your customers to be (and you should by this point), you will want to find a location that you feel your customers will live, shop, and work.

The Area

You want your store to be accessible, visible, and in an area that isn’t confusing. And remember, a lot of traffic does not necessarily mean a lot of customers. The ideal place is to be not only where there are a lot of customers, but an area with a lot of customers that fit your target market.

Think about this:

  • Is the area frequented by the public transportation system?
  • Can customers and delivery trucks get around easily, and in and out of the parking lot with simplicity?
  • How much parking space is there?
  • How many people drive or walk past this location?
  • If looking from the main flow of traffic, can the store be seen?
  • Is the sign visible?

The average amount of parking space is determined by what type of business you have; typically, it would be a good idea to have about 5 to 8 parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of retail space. And if the better your signs can be seen, the less amount of advertising will be needed.

Planning, Zoning, and Signage

One thing that you should do before you sign the lease is to make sure that you understand all of the policies, rules, and procedures associated with your retail location. You need to contact the local city hall and whatever zoning commission for all of the information regarding signage procedures and regulations, restrictions that may have an impact on any of your future plans, etc.

Looking At Your Neighbors: Competition or Not?

The businesses next to you can either hurt or help you. You need to be able to determine that the stores next to you are compatible with your store. For example, a high end fashion boutique might not do very well if placed next to a discount store. You should place your store next to places that allows the most foot traffic, for instance next to a nail or hair salon.

Costs of Your Location

Rent is the initial cost of your location, obviously. But there are other costs you need to think about for the upkeep of your store.

Think about these costs:

  • Outside appearance: lawn, building maintenance, security, utilities.
  • Repairs/upkeep of heating and air units.
  • If in a remote location, additional advertising and marketing costs.
  • Inside appearance: painting, remodeling.
  • Property taxes: who is in charge of this?

A good way to find out what to expect in costs and what to prepare for is to ask other retail stores that are similar to yours, in or around the same area, how much they make in sales and what their rent is, as well as what initial costs they had to deal with. A good example is a good way to paint a realistic picture for you.

Other Special Considerations

If you believe that your store and location has unique or special requirements or characteristics, make a list of them. They may need to be addressed before you open your doors.

For instance:

  • Special lighting, hardware, or fixtures that need to be installed.
  • Restroom availability for customers and staff.
  • Sanitation services might be necessary.
  • Enough fire and police protection availability in the area.
  • The crime rate in the area.
  • Enough lighting in the parking lot and around the exterior of the building.

Choosing a location for your store is not a cut-and-dry decision, and it shouldn’t be. Don’t hurry and don’t feel hurried. You need to do the necessary research and above all, be patient. If scheduling conflicts with the opening of the store and it needs to be pushed back a bit, do so.

You want to take it nice and easy so that the overall result will be one that you are proud of.