Finding That Perfect Location
It is true what the say about a new business, that a key factor to it’s survival is it’s location. This is why you have heard it said before that the three most important factors for a shops survival are,”Location, Location, and Location”. Although there are other factors that are just as important I would like to shed some light on why location is imperative for Vintage Clothing Stores as well.
Over the years of opening vintage clothing stores and helping other open stores of their own we got to see how certain stores reacted in different locations.
I remember in one city, the flagship store was in a old town area that some or most would consider seedy. The surrounding businesses were music venues, tattoo parlors and a couple of hipster bars and restaurants. The rent was cheap and so it was a good location. This was the first location. The second location was in an upscale shopping center. The rent was high, and so were the CAM charges (Common Area Maintenance Fee’s). The same size building as the first, but the rent was 4 times the amount. The surrounding stores were mall type stores, trendy restaurants and an art theater. The first location did great. It was paid off in less than six months and was high profiting store for many years. The second location never really got off of the ground; it immediately became a cash cow with no help in site.
There are number of reasons that the first store did so well and the second location bombed. The biggest factor was their location. The first store had room to grow with low over head; it was also in a area where most of its clientele were familiar with Vintage Clothing. It may have been a destination, but once you were at that destination you wanted to see what was around ie. Art Galleries, Tattoo Parlors, Shops.
The second location was strapped with a huge overhead right from the get go, when customers had difficulty locating the store at the outdoor shopping center there was no room to grow. For this reason the store never did well. When we learned from our mistakes we quickly realized that we had the first two location, location, but we missed the third location in the formula, which is just as important as the first two.
- Location – The city was good for a Vintage Clothing Store, we knew this because the flagship store did so well.
- Location – The Artsy shopping center was close to a university and the train station that was also another good location. After our market and demographic research we saw that the other stores at the center were doing very well going after the same demographic. We new we have a creative product line and branding to set us apart from the other retailers. We could successfully check of the second Location in Location, Location, and Location.
- Location – Then the management moved our location and requested that the store be on the backside of the building viewable by the street but not the pedestrian traffic. We were already so deep into the project that we forgot about the third Location, in Location, Location, Location and the store flopped. The management company could never figure out how to direct pedestrian traffic, and vehicle traffic. The shops unique mix of customers would rather drive the extra 15 minutes to the first location then put up with the problems at the center. The first location was selling more than the second, and with the expensive rent this location had to be dropped.
When you are looking for a location you need to be very careful. Don’t let your friends or property mangers decide for you, and don’t believe what the rental agents tell you. I would make sure that there is an actual demand for vintage clothing in your community. Are there other vintage clothing stores? How long have they been around? What are their prices? If there are not any other vintage clothing stores this is not actually a bad thing, but I would beware. Sure you can pioneer something and be the first of it’s kind. But this comes with an extra price. There may not be other vintage clothing stores because there in no demand, or target demographic in your city. Just because you and your friends like vintage clothing does not necessarily mean that everyone does. You will have to spend way more time educating your clientele on what vintage clothing is, and why it is different than the thrift store down the street. If you have employees, which you will have to have, you will need to make sure that they are as educated and enthusiastic as you are about educating clientele. Other stores in your town are a good sign that the clientele is around.
I would look for areas with Tattoo Parlors, Art galleries and Hip little restaurants and bars. There is a very good chance that there may already be a vintage store or two in the neighborhood. This is not actually a bad thing at all. Each store will have it’s own selection and style. The other shop owners may be a little peeved at first, but they have to remember that you marketing efforts down the road will bring customer’s into their door as well. Not to mention a few stores in the same neighborhood attract a larger audience of shoppers. Once you find the neighborhood that you wan to be in I would recommend spending a few afternoons and evenings in that neighborhood watching the traffic flow. If there is a community center or realtor near by see if you can find out some of the neighborhood demographics. When it is busy when is it slow? Is it seasonal traffic; is it only dinner or night time traffic? Many cities have this type of district so finding the information should not be that difficult.
Once you find you neighborhood a shopping center or mall you need to find a good location within the district. This may mean that you have to wait some time for one to open up. Don’t go second best or the one on the other side of the street if you don’ have to. Take your time to make sure that your shop is in the midst of the traffic flow. Once people show up to the shopping center or community, how hard is it for them to find you? Are you in the midst of the action, or are you off the beaten path? How much is the rent? These are very important factors to consider when securing the best location. .
If the rent is too high to be front and center you may have to be around the corner. If this happens to you make sure that you rent is low enough to adjust your marketing budget. Your are going to want to attract customers with advertising and events. We will talk more about this in the marketing section