kesslers storefront

For the record, brick and mortar retail shopping is alive and doing well! People are longing to get out and about, and shopping in person is one experience they crave.

If you are planning to open a retail store, understand that finding the ideal space takes time and strategy. Before you start looking — create a checklist noting all the things you need in the space. Reflect on who your target customer is, what your needs and criteria are and how long you plan to be in the space. 

Additional factors to consider during your search: 

Location, Location, Location.

This familiar real estate adage definitely applies to looking for a retail space. Is it in a high traffic area that is visited by people daily? Does your target audience frequent the area? Can it be easily seen by pedestrians and auto-traffic? The more visible and busy the location is, the more likely it will yield higher sales. Who are your neighbors? Are they compatible to your products and services offered? Is the city or community business-friendly? You will find that neighborhood business associations and chambers of commerce are great resources for information.

Square Footage

Conduct your own research on the cost per square foot of retail places in areas that fit your model. Determine how much inventory you have, how much storage space and back-of-house space you’ll need. Think about future growth and if the space will accommodate it.

Storefront Signage/Windows

How much can you do to the storefront? Can you paint it? How large can your sign be? How many signs can you have? Check with the local jurisdiction and architectural review boards to see what their regulations are so there are no surprises down the road. Display windows are important to a retail business as they are the perfect staging area to showcase products and services with creative and seasonal window displays that attract passersby and lure them into your store. If windows are tinted be sure to add a neon, or equally noticeable “open” sign to alert consumers when you are open for business and use light colored vinyl for window graphics/signage. If the windows are not tinted but face east, south or west, consider adding an awning if one does not already exist.

Accessibility & Parking

Whether it be by public transport or by automobile, parking is important to keep in mind. People are less likely to visit your shop if there is little or no parking nearby. It’s good to have somewhere between five to eight parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of retail space. If there is no on-street parking, a nearby parking lot or garage will do. And for those who are physically challenged, are they able to easily enter your store? Is the building ADA accessible? What about deliveries? Will your deliveries need to come in a back entrance? Will you require loading dock access? What size trucks and shipments do you expect? Garbage pickup?

On-site Amenities / Interior Design   

Plan the space for both your customers and employees. How much work has to be done on the space and will you have to pay for all the improvements, or will the landlord pitch in?

Do you need to provide a restroom for your customers? Do you need dressing rooms and/or a break room? Is the power into the building adequate?   


When creating a budget, remember that it should include more than just your mortgage or rent. Check out past utility bills, common area costs (if in a multi-tenant building), insurance, cleaning/maintenance, advertising, etc. Then calculate how much you have to sell to cover these expenses (in addition to inventory, payroll and taxes).

Hire a Professional

Finally, hire an attorney experienced in commercial tenant leasing to review the lease, or an attorney experienced in real estate law to help write an offer on a building. There’s a lot to think about before you sign a lease or buy a building. It’s important to take your time and do your homework. And if there are too many stumbling blocks along the way, then it may not be the right space for you. 

Need more information or a consultation on this subject, contact Retailworks, Inc. at

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