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Lesson One:

Location Location Location:

The old wisdom is that nothing matters more than location.  And, having had shops ranging from off the beaten trail, to how do we ever get people to find us, to being in the same parking lot as a Walmart I can honestly say that Location is very important.  But, not all important.

It is often accepted that the second most important factor is having a great selection: You cannot sell it if you do not have it, so you need an enormous inventory, to appeal to as many different customers as you can.  This is good advice…

However, your store can not be in the best location.  It just can’t.  Know why?  Amazon and eBay are open 24/7/365 and they are located in your customer’s home or even in their pocket, plus: have a better selection than you, too.  So, not only can you dominate your market with the best location, you also cannot have the best selection.

Now, knowing you cannot HAVE the best location, what is left to identify is what you need in a location.  I look for space for retail that is open and inviting, good parking, some office and back end space for doing internet sales, a gaming space for players to play their games, and hopefully a basement for storage.  Last time I shopped for a new location we shopped for 2 years, and once we found our new location, we had not only to negotiate a lease, but also negotiate getting out of a lease we were in.

Keep in mind that when you negotiate a lease it is the LAST time you will be in a position of power with your landlord.  This is a double edged sword – because they have space they want to lease, but once you sign the lease, the power transfers from you to them.  Immediately.

Lease negotiations are complicated, but here are a few things I would keep in mind:
Always insist that you have 45 days grace time before you can be evicted for non payment, most property owners want 15 days, but 45 is easy to negotiate for.  Try to get your landlord to be responsible for AC/Heating repairs, and insist that roof repairs are their responsibility, and that they must be fixed to a non-leak state within 15 days of your notification.

Lastly, any EPA language must indicate that any soil, air or water contamination is not your responsibility.  I once had a guy try to lease me a building that later became an EPA Super Fund Clean Up Site.  Had I signed the lease, I would have lost everything I owned.

Along that line, make sure you google your building, your landlords and their companies if they have any.  Make sure you know who you are getting into bed with.  Another part of the site selection is talking to the neighboring business owners – are they planning on sticking around?  Closing up?  Do they own their buildings?  This will give you an idea about the stability of the area.  Ask them about vandalism and theft or other problems in that area.  And, visit the local police departments who would respond to that location and find someone to ask about the rate of incidents in your area.  Google can help there too, but most cops in small towns like I have been in are very helpful.  

In closing, the site selection can be your largest hurdle, but it is also your last time you get the opportunity, for maybe years, to be in a position where you hold the power before relinquishing it to your landlord.  Google the landlord, google the site, talk to the neighbors and google THEM, talk to the police and to the city/county officials.  Look into things like access, sales and retail permits and licenses, and signage ordinances.

Take your time.
Then, dive into your new retail adventure!!

Marcus King

Mad Ox Games & Comics
205 N Hill St (corner of E 7th)
London, KY 40741

London, KY 40741