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How do I Choose a Retail Location? Lesson 1: Wide Storefront

Updated on December 14, 2013

Question

Have you ever noticed how all the big and successful brands have stores that just catch your eye when you walk past? You suddenly feel like you're in the store, even if you're just standing outside looking at the displays or peering in the door.

Why does one shop do better than another shop that is right beside and sells similar products? Why are some storefronts constantly changing stores and are constantly up for rent/lease?

All these questions have a simple answer.

Corner Storefront

A corner storefront commands top rental dollar and commands top walk-in business.
A corner storefront commands top rental dollar and commands top walk-in business.

Answer

The answer is that they have a wide storefront. A storefront is the one wall with windows and the main entrance in your store that faces the street. The storefront is a major factor in the success of your store, no matter what business you are doing. It's part of the reason why second-floor retail doesn't fare as well as first-floor retail, and it's the reason why rent for second-floor shops is so much cheaper (second-floor retail is usually only seen in dense urban areas).

But, look at the photo above? That convenience store has not just one storefront, but two storefronts. It's a corner store! It has a total of two storefronts and thus double the amount of exposure to the street, and it's customers who are out on the street. Corner retail locations are of course much more expensive than non-corner locations, but they pay for themselves in increased revenue.

Of course, you sometimes can't get a corner store location, but a really wide storefront is almost as good. Businesses with really wide storefronts (although not on corners) fare much better than stores with really narrow storefronts.

The reason that lots of store frontage (total width of storefront) allows stores to do much better is that it allows customers (i.e. people) to look in on your store and see what's going on. Nobody wants to go into a store that they can't see inside of! If your potential customers can take a look inside your store and see what's going on, what's for sale, how clean your store looks, what products you have to offer... they are much more likely to go in and spend their money. It's a psychological thing: people are afraid of the unknown.

So, if you have a wide storefront and allow the unknown to become the known, more people will take the leap and enter your store. This also allows your staff to save time; customers can decide for themselves if what's in your store is what they want. If your store doesn't interest them, they can save their time and your staff's time by moving on. If they're interested, they'll definitely walk in and do some more exploration.

Wide Storefront

This teppanyaki restaurant in Taiwan has really ugly graphic design, but is hugely successful because their restaurants always feature really wide storefronts. (The storefront is two cars long!)
This teppanyaki restaurant in Taiwan has really ugly graphic design, but is hugely successful because their restaurants always feature really wide storefronts. (The storefront is two cars long!)

Case Study

I recently went to Hong Kong and we needed to take a taxi to our hotel. We described to the taxi driver where our hotel was and it seemed that he knew what hotel we were talking about (we didn't know the name). He dropped us off at the wrong hotel, however - ours was next door to the one he knew about. Why did the taxi driver know about that one hotel, but didn't know about ours which was just next door?

Because the hotel he dropped us off at was on the corner! It had two sides to the front and thus got the attention from two street directions. Our hotel only faced one street and so it was much harder to notice. We even took another taxi back to the hotel the next day and the same thing happened... we had to tell the driver to drive a few metres forward to our hotel, not the one on the corner.

Not only that, but the corner hotel was packed with guests in the lobby, while ours had guests, but was much less busy. People take notice of stores with more storefront and it's those stores that they choose to go into.

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