I was in downtown Royal Oak, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit) which has one main thoroughfare appropriately titled Main Street, containing several blocks of cafes, coffee houses, quaint shops, galleries, restaurants, a small movie theater, etc. It has everything you need if you live in the neighborhood and it’s a great walking street with plenty to do and plenty of foot traffic. Royal Oak also has a lesser-trafficked retail street one block over (Washington) that parallels Main St., plus the “even lesser-trafficked than the other two streets” that connects the Main Street to Washington Street – let’s call it connector street.
I was walking down Washington Street recently and happened to notice a store that had shuttered its doors and posted that sign — “we’ve moved, come visit us at such and such address.” So this great little shop has moved from Washington Street to where? The connector street. I did one of those slap my hand against my forehead moves — what were these guys thinking? Here they shuttered their doors, took the time and money to pack everything up, get a new space ready (decorating, fixtures, painting, etc.), unpacked their entire store and set up shop where? On the connector street, not the Main Street! They moved around the corner to a street that granted, connects the two busier retail streets (which might seem like the right move), but it’s the wrong move.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
If you’re going to open a retail location, (yes I know) it’s all about location, location, location. We’ve heard it all before….McDonald’s isn’t a fast food joint, it’s a real estate company and so the trite retail real estate expressions go. Blah blah blah.
But seriously, before you open your first or your next location, spend a lot of time looking for the right space. And the right space starts with the right strategy.
In essence, you need to open in the right market (city), then narrow it down to the right center (the mall, the strip center, the street that people shop on) and then narrow it down to the right space (within the mall, the strip center or the street). Again, right market, right center, right space.
You can get there by asking yourself these questions…
1. What is my concept, what type of merchandise does it carry, and who does it appeal to? Now that you’ve defined that…
2. In what city do the customers whom my concept appeals to live?
3. At which locations do the customers whom my concept appeals to shop (select malls, strip centers, and street fronts)? And which has the most foot traffic?
4. Which place has the best mix of co-tenants that most closely appeals to my customers?
5. Of the spaces available, which one most suits my needs in terms of location and size?
If you follow these steps, they should lead you to open your store on the corner of Main St. and Main St. – the busiest intersection on the busiest street in the city or town that has more of your target audience than any other. It’s in the shopping destination of choice for the local market — it’s the place everyone in the neighborhood goes. It’s not the connector street and it’s not Washington Street. It’s Main Street. And not Main Street on the edge of town. Main Street in the middle of town – the middle of the action.