By Abby Davids, Pedal Retail Advisors
If it’s your first time shopping for retail space, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Your space will be an integral component of your brick-and-mortar success, but there probably isn’t just one perfect space for your business. Here are the five basic considerations when evaluating each space.
1. Physical space
- Layout: Does your space have room for all the required elements? Is it configured in a way that will be intuitive and convenient for your customers? For your staff?
- Condition: How much construction is required to convert the space from its current condition to your store? You’ll want to think about both cost and timeline implications.
- Overall feel/vibe: A great designer can work magic, but you’ll want to understand what aspects of the space can’t be changed and consider whether the atmosphere they evoke aligns with your vision. You can always repaint walls, but if the space is on the shady side of the street and your concept requires sunlight streaming through windows, this may not be the space for you.
- Does your target customer frequent this neighborhood? If so, why? Do they live here? Work here? Shop here? Something else?
- What are the major traffic drivers in the immediate area? These may be cultural centers like parks or schools, or they may be other retailers like a collection of independent restaurants.
- Do you anticipate that the character of the neighborhood will change over the next few years? Most commercial leases are five years or longer, so think through both long- and short-term changes. For instance, if you’re looking at a space located in the first phase of an exciting, new mixed-use project, consider the environment when the project is complete, as well as the construction you’ll live through in the meantime.
- What other retailers are in the neighborhood? Are they complementary to your use or competitive?
3. Access and visibility
- How easy is it to find the space and see the storefront? Are there trees or other features obstructing your signage or entrance?
- How easy is the space to access by those who travel on foot, by car and by public transportation?
- How easy is the space to access for your employees? Think through how they will commute. Is there easy access to public transportation? If they’re driving, where will they park?
- Where does trash go? How easy is it to store trash and have it removed?
- How do deliveries come into the space, and how easy is it for delivery drivers to park?
- Is it physically possible to use the space in the way you need? For example, can the space handle a restaurant exhaust? Does the space have sufficient ceiling heights for your equipment?
5. Stakeholders and externalities
- Who is the landlord, and what are its goals for this space? How do those goals align and differ from your own?
- What kinds of approvals will you need for this space, and how hard are they to obtain?
- Are there other tenants that have rights over your space, such as a right of first refusal or exclusive use? Or would their use impact your space? For example, will the music from a boutique fitness class be audible through the walls, or will a line of customers for a neighbor’s business impact access to your space?
Every retail space is different, but with these considerations in mind, you’ll be well prepared when searching.