Finding the right location can be tricky and can take longer than you think. The best thing to do is not to rush your decision and to do as much research as possible. Here are a few points that you need to think about and what I took in to consideration when picking out my location.
1) Budget is going to be a factor when you start choosing your location. A high street is going to be more expensive then a small row of shops in the middle of a residential road. One of the ways they workout rental value, is the position of where it is on the high street, for example there is the primary and secondary positions. Primary being the middle of the high street or where there is the most footfall, secondary is the end of the high street or where there might not be so much footfall. It’s important to remember this as footfall is essential if you want to keep your shop on the high street. I would suggest doing some research on footfall, go to the location you are thinking about on different days and times of the week and count how many people walk down the high street. This is exactly what I did when I was choosing my shop location. I could work out how many people passed the shop, whether or not it this was going to be enough and it gave me an idea of the sort of people who live in the area and whether or not I thought these people would buy my products.
2) Rental value is also calculated on the amount of space the premises has to offer and the amount of window space. If you are selling lots of items then you want a good window to show them off to passers by as well as car and bus traffic. In my shop I was going to sell furniture and gifts and I looked at all sorts of spaces, one in particular was a small shop in Fulham that had a small ground floor and first floor space and a fabulous window display area. It was really quirky and looked so cool with exposed brick and a lovely iron staircase, but despite how much I loved it I realised the space wasn’t right for me. The ground floor would only fit a few items of furniture and it would be really impractical to lugg furniture up and down the stairs. Also having a first floor may not have been a great option as it could be a place for theives to rifle through unless I had cctv or two people constantly at the shop.
3) Storage. The shop that I chose isn’t large but has a great window space, a toilet and a small corridor where I can put the kettle. The only think I haven’t got is a lot of storage. After weighing it up I looked at this slight draw back as a good thing. I would only need storage for gifts and once I looked around I realised I could store items underneath the windows, make some cupboards without it eating away at the space using the tops of the cupboards for display. One bonus that I hadn’t realise would happen is that because I don’t have a lot of space I don’t make large orders on one particular item, and tend not to reorder the same thing. In the end my turnover for stock is actually very quick which makes the shop really interesting. I’ve had so many customers say to me that every time they come into the shop there is always something different to look at, which is fantastic. It means that they will come back to the shop a lot more often then they would have done. By having a limited amount it also makes your stock seem more exclusive which people really like!
4) Is there competition on the high street? Sometimes it’s good but make sure you don’t put anyone out of business, people won’t like it and it’s not helpful for you in the long run. Empty shops means less footfall. If there is make sure you are doing something different for instance a different style or think of a new angle. Also think about whether the company you might be competing with is established, has it been there for 10-15 years? If so they will have built a loyal following and would probably be able to withstand a storm and quiet periods much better than you and could even undercut you which is not good news.
5) Think about what type of people who live there, family’s, young professionals, OAP’s? Ask yourself ‘will these people buy my products?’ If you are selling high end goods, are you in an affluent area who can afford your products?
6 ) The area, what’s changing? Are they rejuvinating it? Any supermarkets coming your way? Any more offices/ shops opening? Is there a good cafe culture? Is there any community support for you as a retailer? Is it local people who live in the area or does it draw people from other areas?- This is important especially if there is a shop selling something similar to you. Can the area sustain and support two shops that are similar with just local traffic?
7) Don’t get confused with local traffic and tourist traffic. For example, if you are selling homewares and furniture and your location is in a tourist spot say… piccadilly circus, you’ll find it difficult to trade. You may get a lot of browsers and a few small buys but if you’re a tourist you won’t be thinking about shipping this fabulous chair to the other side of the world and most people who live around the area tend to avoid tourist spots.
8) Last point. Don’t talk yourself into the area. If it isn’t ticking all of the major boxes don’t do it. You’ll loose a lot of money if it all goes wrong.
All of these above points may sound obvious but I’ve seen some really awful decisions happening through lack of research and not thinking it through. Running your own business will take over your life so you’ll want to make sure it is given the best possible success so that you can enjoy it!
I hope this has helped and good luck!
Let us know if you have any more tips on finding the right location in the comments area below. Thanks.