A Surprising Way To Find Good Retail Locations

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Updated December 6, 2023

"Is now a good time to open a retail business?"

I get that question a lot.

Suppose you have the money, intelligence, and desire to make it work - yes. Much like deciding to have a child or get married, your conviction makes the difference.

If you want to open a retail business because you "think it will be fun," "want something to do," or feel a need for "a change," don't do it. It would be like entering a bar at closing time, finding the worst possible person for you, and then marrying them. If you think a divorce could be messy, wait until you see what happens to get out of a five or ten-year lease!

Part of your retail success will come in choosing a location; you don't want to be 100 yards from success. Rent could be cheaper around the corner, on the backside of the development, or in an older center, but there's a reason rent is cheaper - less traffic and visibility. You'll have to advertise more to get people to find you, so there are rarely any savings.

When I was helping select locations for a franchise, new franchisees would pitch me why development was so good, "... and million dollar homes surround it." After a while, I began to question just how many "million-dollar homes" an area could afford.

Now we know - few. In fact, many of those homes are still vacant or being rented. Here's a tip for you looking at locations with leasing agents who might be selling you on a bill of goods about an area: check the trash.

With so many abandoned homes in major markets like California, Florida, and the like, you want to know how many customers you could actually count on in your two-mile trade area.

Here's how: Find your intended area's trash collection days and times. Go and observe how many have put their trash out prior, and you'll have a good indication of how dynamic your neighborhood really is.

Is now a good time to open a retail business? It can be if you use tricks like these to ensure you aren't sold a bill of goods.

For more tips on improving your retail business, order a copy of my book, The Retail Doctor's Guide to Growing Your Business (Wiley) here.