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Seven things to consider when looking for a retail site

By ALLISON MILES
Nov. 4, 2010 at 6:04 a.m.
Updated Nov. 6, 2010 at 6:06 a.m.


FIND ADVICELooking for more advice regarding your business start-up? The University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center might be able to help. Visit http://sbdc.uhv.edu or call 361-575-8944.

A lot goes into starting a business.

From stocking shelves to attracting customers, the process can be a stressful one.

But planning begins long before the first shopper walks through the door. In fact, there needs to be a door for them to enter in the first place.

How does an entrepreneur determine which sites to consider and which to pass by?

Here are seven things for business owners to consider.

Accessibility

Check out the direction of the roads that run in front of the potential retail site, proximity to major arteries and even road speeds. When traffic gets up to 40 mph, drivers aren't paying attention to what's along the side of the street.

Target demographics

Determine who will purchase the products and try to locate the business in the central demographic of the market. If potential customers live in the northeast part of town, it wouldn't make sense to locate in the southwest portion. Also, determine how far people will travel to purchase whatever you're selling.

Zoning

Look into city ordinances and zoning before determining where to set up shop. Also check into the type of signage the business requires versus what the local government allows. You don't want any unexpected problems.

Competition

Determine where competitors are located and act accordingly. If the market in a specific area is saturated, you'll be tasked with stealing market shares from others. If there's excess demand, you can take hold of available market shares. A business that relies heavily on foot traffic might benefit by locating close to competition. For instance, when a clothing store opens inside a mall, it benefits from the potential customers there to peruse the other sites.

Visibility

A business won't see many customers if people can't find it. Make sure the retail site is visible from the road and not hidden behind trees or other buildings. A brightly-colored building and eye-catching signage can help, but check with the landlord first.

Research

Do your homework before deciding. Do you know what the traffic count is outside the building? Do you know what the rental price is, compared to other locations in town? Ask an expert for help if you need it. It's what business advisers do.

Luck

Sometimes the stars simply align, and a site you've had your eye on becomes available when you need it. It doesn't always work that way, however. Don't get discouraged during the search. It will work out in the end.

Sources: Joe Harper, director of the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center, Allan Maresh, owner of The Homestead, Small Business Administration website

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