Hi all, long hot and muggy day in China for me today. Hope you’re all having a good Friday and looking forward to the weekend! Speaking of which, it’s another design school day next weekend yay hay. There’s still the last couple of spaces available, so if you fancy coming along for a day hanging out at my pad, and getting oodles of design advice and insider tricks to help you transform your home… you know where to click! Can’t wait.

Anyway, to business. I needed to read a post like this before I opened my store 12 years ago because it was then that I made one of my biggest business mistakes to date (more on that in bit). For now though, how do you figure out how to choose the perfect site for your store? Well location is everything, unless you are huge and a destination please don’t do what I did and go too much off the beaten track. This is actually the single most important decision you will ever have to make. Do you get a more out-of-the-way spot but pay a smaller rent, or do you aim high and go for the high street and pay a massive rent? Or try to find somewhere in between? It’s a minefield.

Demographics are key

I’m not going to get too bogged down in the marketing jargon here. Instead by this I mean stand outside your chosen location and literally count traffic! How many people are out on the street? What is the overall pattern – office workers, parents, residents? Drill it down. What is the average age group – do your due diligence basically and figure out age, income and what the other retailers in that area are selling.When is it busy and when is it quiet? What is drawing people there in the first place?

Go where your competition goes

The best place to open a store, as odd as this sounds, is close to your biggest competitors. I know this sounds crazy but think about it for a minute. They’ve already got a great customer base, and there customers should be yours too. So you can leverage upon this proximity and grab some of that market share also. Obviously you’ll need a point of difference because there is no point in being exactly the same. Being where all the big boys are can add a boom to business, because remember they’ve spent a lot of money on advertising and driving businesses to them.

Common sense checklist

Here are some other questions to ask before taking the plunge:

  • Do people you want for customers live nearby?
  • Is the store in a position that reflects your brand?
  • Are neighbouring businesses bringing in good foot traffic?
  • Can you compete, but set yourself apart from your competition?
  • Are any businesses in the area seasonal?
  • Can suppliers make deliveries conveniently?
  • Can people park easily?
  • Are transport links good?

Back to the worse mistake we made, or one of them at least because there have been quite a few! 12 years ago because I had little faith (I’m a glass half empty kind of girl instead of half full) we took on a lease on a store with the lowest rent imaginable in an off the beaten location in Islington. My reasoning was that if it all went tits up it wouldn’t kill us. Little did I realise the struggle in getting people to find us. When they did they spent but getting them to find us was challenging (polite way of saying a bloody nightmare)!

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I knew 6 months in we would have to move if we were to survive (we just weren’t getting the foot traffic) and take the biggest business plunge I had made. That being to go onto the high street, pay a whacking great rent and just find a way to make it work. It was the best decision I have made, that store is like my calling card. From it I’ve gotten books, lecturing deals around the world, collaborations, interior design projects and more. Never underestimate the location I say! Everything that has happened to me has happened because of that store – how it looks and what is in it. In fact it is central to everything we do. If I hadn’t taken the risk I wouldn’t be sitting here now talking to you guys so location as everyone says really is key!

Right, 8 maybe 9 hours ahead here, so I’m clocking off for the day. Espresso martinis at the bar perhaps? Happy weekend everyone!