How to Select a Good Retail Location
When selecting a location for a retail business, consider the immediate context of the space. The story that follows tells of a store that opened in a ‘good’ location geographically, demographically, traffic and parking-wise. However, it had a few serious deficits: the flow of the energy from the immediate surroundings.
Here's the story: A fabric store that sells fabric and offers sewing classes recently moved to smaller quarters. Though they moved only a few blocks away from their original location, I had difficulty finding their new store. In fact, I drove past it the first time, looking carefully for where I knew it to be. When I finally found the store I discovered the reason I had difficulty locating it. It was on the ground floor under a gym whose signage and building design hung over the fabric store below, eclipsing the place entirely. The big windows and signage of the gym commanded my gaze. And, the lighting in the fabric store, as seen from the outside, was dim, making me unsure if they were open or not.
The downward pressure of the larger building on top of the smaller retail space created the impression of the smaller space being crushed or overpowered. On an instinctual level such a space does not feel safe or welcoming to customers or employees. While folks may not say they don't feel safe, they would certainly gravitate to a more open space over this one, given the choice.
The store would have felt more welcoming if there were signs indicating where the various fabric departments, classrooms, and restrooms were. (Signs are silent salespeople - they help the customer find what they're looking for quickly and easily.) Unfortunately the sewing classrooms were located directly under the weight room in the gym above. The peaceful yin energy of sewing was repeatedly shattered by the startling yang energy of heavy weights dropping on the floor above. A space like this is best used for storage, a restroom, or sound-proofed.
Feng Shui Psychology is especially helpful when there are problems with the physical space. It's not always possible to find an ideal space. It is possible to improve a less than perfect one. Before you sign a lease for a retail store, use the checklist below:
Feng Shui Psychology Check List:
1. Spend 20 - 30 minutes at different times of the day and evening in a retail space you are considering leasing. Notice what you hear and what you see inside and outside of the space.
2. Step in to the shoes of your typical customer. How would he or she experience finding your space and getting to and from their car, particularly in bad weather and at night?
3. Learn about neighboring businesses: the nature of their business, lease-term, hours, clients, signage, parking usage, smells, and sounds it generates.
4. If you must select a space like the fabric store, install large highly visible signs on your store and signs that are visible from the street. Add moving elements, such as a swinging sign, a blinking or brightly lit sign. Add bright lights on the inside so the store appears open during business hours.