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Location, Location, Location

Posted: April 29, 2011, 5:45 p.m., EDT

Occasionally, I read through pet industry message boards and a common question I see has to do with pet-related businesses either wanting to move into or out of a mall setting. I have a somewhat unique perspective on this based on my two store locations. My original store (est. 2006) is in Downtown Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Saratoga Springs offers lovely boutiques and quaint shops tucked among wonderful eateries and cafes. There are only a couple of the typical "chain stores,” making downtown a delightful and unique place to spend the day. My other store (est. 2009) is in Clifton Park, N.Y. and is part of a "Lifestyle Center.” The mall has both courtyard stores (i.e., stores inside a typical shopping mall) as well as sidewalk store (i.e., stores that are not connected internally to the mall and have their own outdoor entrances). My store is a sidewalk store. Here are some pros and cons of each store location.

Downtown Setting Pros

• Flexibility setting own hours and days of operation
• Ability for customers to bring their dogs into the store
• Palpable sense of community
• High traffic area especially during the summer tourism season
• Landlord is the building owner

Downtown Setting Cons

• Weather can have a large impact on business
• Lack of parking
• Loss of business to malls during "traditional” shopping days
• Potential for competition to move in next store (assuming different landlord owns adjacent property)

Mall Setting (Sidewalk Store) Pros

• High traffic especially around holidays
• Abundant parking
• Weather has less of an impact
• Potential for direct competition (i.e., another pet store) in the same mall is reduced
• Based on setup, can still allow dogs into the store

Mall Setting (Sidewalk Store) Cons

• Less flexibility on hours and days of operation
• Additional costs beyond rent (i.e., triple nets)
• More rules associated with store displays, signs, etc.
• Since many corporate entities are starting to carry pet products, you may be competing with large department stores

These are just a few things to consider when deciding where to locate your pet-related business. I am currently looking into expanding into a typical mall setting. If that comes to fruition, I’ll report back on how that setting compares to those identified above.

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