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    5 Replies Latest reply on Aug 2, 2013 9:54 AM by Moderator Melinda

    Need Advice From Experienced Brick/Mortar Store Owner

    donerightby4 Wayfarer



      I own a clothing store where I buy and sell new and used Name Brand/Designer clothing, accessories & shoes.  This is my first business venture and I have spent my life's savings trying to get it going.  I have been in my location for 4 years now and during the first two years I did pretty good.  Well I  broke even, but considering how bad the economy was and that it was my first attempt at a business, I was quite proud of myself.  During the third year in the store the state decided to put in a bridge which would route traffic away from my store.  Immediately I noticed business starting to drop off.  The bridge/construction was completed about 6 months ago and my sales are down 35% - 50%. My lease is up for renewal at the end of this month and as I see it I have three options:  1.  Start looking for a new high traffic area and move my store, 2. Get rent lowered, aggressively advertise and hope business increases or 3. Close it down. 


      1.  I began looking 6 months ago and have spoke to approx.10 different locations.  Three different times I went through the process, paperwork, discussions and even almost signing the lease when at the last minute they changed their mind.  My problem, I don't want to have to pay up fitting costs AGAIN which I explained to them from the beginning.  Most of this town is dying and there is only a small area with growth potential, which is where these were but after they thought about it they would rather not spend the money and would rather wait it out hoping to get someone in there that would pay to fix up their building. 


      2.  I decided to ask my landlord to lower my rent and he did come off about $300/mo but I'm afraid, considering how much business is off, it's not going to help much.


      3.  Don't resign the lease, start selling off everything I can and close down.


      This may be a no brainer to some of you but here is my question.  "Should I keep the store open and aggressively advertise or just take a loss and get out while I can?"  Someone told me the other day that no amount of advertising I do can turn a bad location around.  Please give advice.   I am just torn......... what would you do???? 

        • Re: Need Advice From Experienced Brick/Mortar Store Owner
          Moderator Cath Guide

          Just a thought, donerightby4 - have you thought about asking your landlord if he would be willing to go month to month for an agreed upon time?  This would give you a little more time to get some help from others and to make a decision.


          You might read Steve Strauss' newest article, too.  He always has great advice and suggestons -  Steve Strauss Advocating a Revolution?


          Let us know what you decide to do.  Best wishes to you, as you make some difficult decisions.



          • Re: Need Advice From Experienced Brick/Mortar Store Owner

            Cut your losses and get out while you can, is what I would do. One of the biggest mistakes many good business people make is assigning feels to their business instead of reading the financial bottom line. While your entire life is poured into your business and it is a big deal, if you hold onto that thought you wont be able to make wise business decisions. The last think you want to do is keep holding on hoping for a turn around and then wide up loosing the shirt off of your back too.


            The person who told you that no amount of advertising will make a bad location better, hit it right on the head. See if you can find a better location to continue. Cathy also gave good advice. The rent could help you actually pull off starting in a new location.  With the money that you would have spent on rent, you can  know put into the new location.


            Good luck and let us know what happened.

            • Re: Need Advice From Experienced Brick/Mortar Store Owner
              Ron Nixon Wayfarer

              Find a better location or make your store a "destination."


              Unless you already have a loyal following (hard to do when big companies are selling below cost or on the cheap with free shipping to you or to their stores) advertising will cost more than you make.


              Unless you can make your store a "destination" with items that aren't available anywhere else; you provide a service that is unique and that they can afford; and are a place where your customers can bring their friends to save money and have a good experience you will continue to lose money.


              Word-of-mouth works great, but takes time which you may no longer have.


              I just spent two years in a strip mall without street signage. (Landlord promised to replace the one that blew down, but didn't. I didn't get it in writing, my mistake.) (Cities in this area do not allow small businesses to have their own street signs and landlords, citing expense, refuse to erect them.)


              40,000+ cars a drove by that location and had no clue we were there. Too busy negotiating the 4 way stop and other distractions. 60% of mall is vacant now and landlord still refuses to erect a sign for the mall.


              I sell a nationally recognized brand of toys and have the best selection in this area. I also make unique personalized products. I couldn't get people to stop because they didn't see my 20 sq foot sign, over my store, that was back from the road.


              Television, Christian and Rock Radio stations and newspapers didn't work. I belong to two chambers of commerce and am A+ BBB rated. I am on Facebook and Twitter and have an online web site. I volunteer and support a big children's charity. I gave stuffed animals away at Disney Days.


              The only advertising that worked was a coupon drop to 30,000 homes. People brought the coupons an mostly were interested in 20% off. I moved to another location after Christmas and don't know how many of them would have returned this Christmas.


              To summarize, find a way to make your existing location a "destination" that your customers will come visit with their friends or move.

              • Re: Need Advice From Experienced Brick/Mortar Store Owner
                donerightby4 Wayfarer

                I really appreciate all of your responses.  We sadly have decided to close our store.  We are in hopes that a place in the future will come up and maybe we will try again it again if we can get the funding,  One thing we definitely know is this is not the place to succeed.  We are praying for a second chance.