How to see your retail or hospo’ space through new eyes…
Operators can no longer “accidentally” run their businesses – consumers are too savvy for that. In a changing world where traditional business models are being challenged, creative thinking is more important than ever. You can’t just throw open the doors and expect people to descend with their open wallets.
When you take out a lease on a property for your business, it’s a major overhead. So, how can you actively optimise your bricks-and-mortar physical space by enticing a new buyer base to cross the threshold?
• In Chicago, there’s a company connecting clients planning events with retail venues making it possible for retailers to transform unproductive or unused parts of their retail space into sales “vehicles” after-hours
• Think about ways you could utilise your retail space for purposes other than straight retailing – or look at ways to generate after-hours retail experiences
• Perhaps your café or retail store has a separate room or screened off area – it could be a perfect co-working space for creatives and laptop nomads who don’t want to be in a traditional office setting, but still want a dedicated work space
• If your restaurant is only open at night, consider freelancers, consultants and entrepreneurs who could work out of that unused space during the day – co-working without the set-up costs as you already have tables, chairs and other facilities. Maybe they’ll stay on for happy hour…
• Could you sub-lease some of your existing retail space to a complementary “beta” outlet – a secondary retail “store-within-a-store” for an entrepreneur or small operator to test the market, or provide profile for an established brand
• Maybe your day-time coffee and food-on-the-go business could make way for a tapas and tipples operation in the evening with a different operator stepping in for the night shift
• In Bucharest, there’s a hospo’ business that morphs from coffee to cocktails with a change of mood lighting and a central feature bar that has a built-in jack allowing it to rise from 80 cm during the day, to 110 cm in the evenings, creating new ambience
• Your clothing store could have a barber or nail technician operating in one corner – added-value services under one roof provide more than one reason for people to visit
• Who could you partner with to bring a new level of service to your retail space?
• Think of ways to incorporate products, services or experiences that either pair well together or are completely unexpected into your existing operation
• A pub in Auckland has converted an otherwise under-utilised outdoor alleyway into a coffee and snack venue covering the 8am-2pm shift, and also offers restorative yoga sessions on a Sunday morning to counteract the night-before excesses
• Think in terms of “elastic environments” – stretching ideas around space and creating opportunity from something right under your nose
Naturally, you’ll need to make sure that your lease allows for alternative uses for the space you have committed to, and some operations may need a special licence e.g. when serving alcohol is part of the mix.
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