Choosing A Retail Or Restaurant Space

So you’re ready to purchase or rent a space for your budding or startup business.  Congratulations!  Now comes the hard part.  When you’re dreaming about your first retail space, you’re probably picturing something perfect – beautiful, decorated perfectly, and chock full of customers.  Unfortunately, that’s not always how things happen at first.  It’s important to keep yourself grounded throughout the process of finding the right retail space for you, and keep in mind that no space will be without flaws.  If you’re organized and open-minded, you’ll find the perfect space for your business.

Follow these steps toward becoming a successful retail space owner or renter!

Create a Budget

This is the most important step, as you can’t begin without it.  Of course, if you’ve already started your business, you’re very aware of that.  Your space budget is just as important as your business budget.  Grab your favorite budgeting tool (a simple spreadsheet will do the job, if you don’t have any fancy budgeting tools at your disposal).  Make a list of every expense you can think of, so that you cover all your bases, and have an accurate picture of how much retail space you can afford.  Depending on the type of your business, beyond the obvious mortgage or rental payment, consider these initial expenses:

  • Updates/Renovation
  • Furniture/Displays
  • Business Equipment (kitchen appliances, cash registers, computers, phones, etc.)
  • Initial Goods Purchase (food or merchandise for first stock)

Choose an Ideal Location

Decide on an ideal location for your retail or restaurant space, or at least a general area that you’d like to be in.  Typically, downtown spaces will be more expensive than those closer to city limits or suburbs.  To help you decide on your location, think first about your target audience.  What kind of people do you want to come to your space?  For instance, let’s say you’d like to open small cafe/bookstore.  Foot traffic would be great, yes, but think beyond that to demographics.  Who uses cafes and bookstores the most often?  College students might enjoy studying there, women who are shopping might like to stop in to grab a coffee, and book lovers would love to stop by as well.  So, what else do book lovers typically like?  Get into the minds of your patrons to decide what sorts of other places or areas you’d like to be near.

Decide on Size and Style

The size of your space will definitely vary depending on how much you can spend and where you’re looking to be.  Have an idea of how much square footage you’ll need, as well as any separate rooms or spaces you’ll require.  This is also a good time to think about your desired style.  Does it matter if it’s got lots of natural light?  Do you like industrial looks?  Perhaps you’re looking for something with lots of charm and character, or something more modern?  A lot of this obviously depends on how you decorate it, but the bones of the space matter, too.  Start planning your decor theme at this step, as it goes along with the style of the space.  You might be inspired by certain shelving or display pieces that you find, or gorgeous tables for patrons to sit at.

Keep Condition & Adaptability in Mind

Sometimes, there’s real value in doing upgrades yourself.  You can purchase a space that’s in need of updates for a cheaper price.  However, keep in mind that renovation and rebuilding processes usually take longer than you intended, and will delay the opening of your space.  Also, make sure to ask about how much change you can make to a place, especially if you’re renting.  If you’re buying, your only limits should be building codes, structural integrity, and budget.  Don’t take on more of a project than you can handle.  Make sure to have a space inspected before deciding on renting or buying.  The space will be harboring your livelihood, after all, so it’s very important to make sure that you won’t have water leaks, deal with an unstable construction, or have a rodent problem.  If you’re renting, rent from a reputable landlord.

Featured images:

Joli D. has dreamt of opening a coffee shop/book store or grilled sandwich restaurant for many years, and it remains a backup career for her.  But for now, she enjoys writing for Shingobee Builders, who build restaurant and retail spaces, casinos, and more in Minnesota and North Dakota.


  1. Dawn Kropp
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  2. Jenny
  3. Jimmy Arcade

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