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small business

Store Design: When location is not enough?

busy shopping areaSlow Sales:

Recently I have had the experience of interacting with several long time business owners with shops in high traffic, high profile, historic locations. These are highly desirable locations with low vacancy rates and instances of failure. Not only is there high pedestrian and auto traffic, there is considerable tourist traffic as well. Yet some of these retailers lament decreased sales and blame a slow or no recovery from the economic slow down of 2008. Certainly such a conclusion might be true in economically hard hit parts of the country, but the answer may not be so simple in more affluent shopping districts. It is quite possible that there may be something else at the root of slow sales.

shabby storefrontsRooting out the Root:

Faced with such a problem I would expect an experienced retailer to turn first to their marketing plan. Longtime retail business owners who have a history of success in a particular location often have a strong customer base and connections to the local community, via social and other media as well as web based technologies. Assuming for the sake of this discussion that marketing goals are being met in this regard with still disappointing sales results, then it might be time for the business owner to take a careful look up and down the street. If their storefront looks tired like those in the collage, it may be time for a change. Complacency can undermine even the most successful business, and those with long histories in a location are particularly vulnerable. Not only is there a tendency to feel that what has worked in the past will continue to work going forward, but even to reason that changing the way a shop appears might destroy it visual appeal. This is a dangerous way of thinking that can lead to irrelevance and decreased sales.

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Remodel the Store, Refresh the Brand:

A store remodel can be one of the most effective ways for a retail business to attract new customers. It is especially effective when carefully coordinated with the marketing plan and designed to support a retailers brand.

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

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