What Makes a Great Retail Location?

“What makes a great retail location?”  Seems like a simple enough question, but there are so many variables to consider. Here are my Top 11 criteria for selecting the perfect retail location:

1. Location: Should you choose Urban or Suburban? Do you you want an A, B or C location?

Hint: This depends upon your business model and your desire for proximity to complimentary businesses and/or distance from competitors. Good urban locations are harder to find but can offer much greater density and foot traffic. Maybe a mixture of both makes the most sense when planning for future expansion.

2. Visibility: Is the location visible from the street? Is there ample window exposure? What about the building height?

Hint: Visibility is a key to your success. If they can’t see you, they can’t find you and you have to rely on planned visits. If customers have to work to find you, they won’t.

3. Signage:  The building signage is typically dictated per city/village code. Additional questions you want to know: is there a pylon available, and if so what is the size and location.  Also, can you access to any free standing or blades signs?

Hint: Without good signage you risk the possibility of being difficult to find.

4. Parking/Access:  Determine the parking status; free surface parking, deck parking, street parking, parking meters, paid lot nearby?  What, if any, curb cuts exist? What is the access in and out of the property? For example, is it right in right out, full access curb cut or left out only?

Hint: Your customers need to be able to come and go with ease (it’s critical).

5. Frontage:  How much frontage does the location have? And is it in good condition?

Hint:  Frontage should never be less then 20′.  There is a direct correlation between store sales volumes and a store’s frontage.

6. Rent/Extra Charges:  Do the numbers make sense/occupancy cost you’re your specific business?   What is the pro-rata for CAM, taxes, insurance?

Hint: Work backward. Determine your projected sales volumes and decide what kind of rent you can afford.

7. Concessions:  Will the Landlord do any work, provide a tenant improvement allowance or possibly a rent abatement?

Hint:  Always ask for concessions; each landlord’s position on concessions differ.

8. Positioning:  Which is best or your business?  Endcap, Inline, Free Standing orStorefront?

Hint:  The eye typically catches the end cap position first, however, these locations aren’t always available.

9. Co-Tenancy:  Is the synergy of nearby tenants important?  Do you fear or thrive on competition?   What is the quality of the anchors and the other tenants?

Hint:  Big anchor tenants such as Wal-Mart/Target/Walgreens, do extensive research before selecting a location and often provide a guideline for your location.

10. Traffic:  Gather information on car counts and pedestrian counts.  Is it a signalized intersection?

Hint:  The stronger the counts, typically the stronger the sales volume for your store.

11. Condition of Space:  Know the condition of the HVAC, electric and ADA compliant handicap accessibility, prior to committing.  Find out who is responsible formaintaining, repairing or replacing HVAC and other mechanicals.

Hint:  Avoid excessive build out by understanding what you already have within the space and what the landlord will pay for.

Call me at (312) 593-2183 or email me at Brett@CRBChicago.com

What to Look For When Purchasing a Retail Property

The most important aspect to a new location for your business is it’s location. However, there are many other aspects to consider. They are:

Location:  You know what they say, real estate is all about location location location!   You can overcome many factors, but you can never overcome a bad location.

Building Size:   Before you begin your search for the ideal location, determine an appropriate size range for your business.  Do not be tempted to over commit on size.

Property Size:  Property size is important if you are a free standing building because it will determine how much parking you will have access which includes circulation around the property.

Condition of Property:  The condition of the property depends upon whether you are looking for “as is”, or you intend to make modification.   Most properties will require some work to fit your needs.

Price:  Price is a function of several factors, including; budget, condition, location, size, work needed, and projected sales.

Maintenance Required:   Consider the Roof, the façade, parking lot, mechanicals including HVAC, electricity capacity, and if appropriate landscaping.

Property Taxes:   Taxes are what they are, but each county is assessed differently, make it a habit to contest taxes annually.

Access (Ingress/Egress) into the Property:  Adequate ingress and egress is critical, do you have a preference with being located on the going to work side, or the going home side?

Zoning:  Always double check the current zoning with the municipality your property is located in.

Near By Competition:  Make a list of any competitors in close proximity to the identified location, and make sure it doesn’t negativity effect your business

Co-Tenancy (In the Area):   Are there any tenants that you prefer to be located near, and if so, who are they?  Make a list.

Parking:  Do you know how many parking spaces your business requires at any given time?  Does your location provide the appropriate parking?  If the parking is inadequate don’t purchase the space since a lack of parking will hinder your business.

Time Line To Close:  Spend a few minutes to identify a reasonable timeline to that nothing slips through the cracks.  Typically the process is 45 days of due diligence with 60 days to close.

Environmental Issues:  Are there any?  Do you know?

The Right Team:   This includes your attorney, lender, environmental companies (when needed), broker, & accountant if necessary.

As you know by now, I am a Chicago retail expert. If you need to buy or lease a property, I can help you find the perfect location for your needs. Call or email and we can talk.

Call me at (312) 593-2183 or email me at Brett@CRBChicago.com