Be a Smart Shopper When Considering Mall Location (Part 1)

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(Image: iStock.com/Atlantagreg)

Howard Scott |

Choose one that will work for you

PEMBROKE, Mass. — The good thing about operating in a mall is there are lots of potential customers. Moreover, people who use malls are generally steady and regular visitors; they go there frequently.

The bad thing is there are uniform rules—long hours, frontage demands, and minimum hours-of-operation requirements—that everyone must obey. Secondly, mall locations are usually pricier.

That being said, if you still prefer such a location, you must know this: all malls are not alike.

You must choose one that will work for you. Mainly, that means a shopping complex that will afford you the most exposure to potential customers.

Of course, there are different types of malls. There are covered-roof centers that often have department store anchors. There are U-shaped complexes with parking lots inside the storefront perimeter. There are retail strips that sit alongside the roadway.

Primarily, what works best for a Laundromat is the U-shaped shopping complex with ample parking. A covered shopping center is usually price-prohibitive. A strip mall often doesn’t have adequate parking.

Even though malls are unique entities, there are some guidelines that apply to all situations. If you locate in one in an upscale suburb, where there are only 15% renters in the vicinity, you probably won’t do well. If you occupy a location surrounded by marginal stores, you won’t get enough retail traffic.

If you are in a corner spot with poor visibility, you will have trouble attracting customers. If you open up somewhere that charges excessive rent, you will probably find that costs are too high to achieve profitability. So, a mall location is no guarantee for success.

Yes, the big advantage of a mall is steady patronage. A supermarket-anchored shopping complex is truly the best, because there is always heavy traffic. These shoppers come regularly every week, and it would be most convenient for them to do their laundry while they shop. It’s the proverbial killing of two birds with one stone.

But other types of malls also attract large patronage. Those with the right combination of retail outlets—a liquor store, a hardware shop, a hairdresser, a dollar merchandiser—could have a lot of people coming and going. It depends on the logistics and geography.

What you want is a sizable proportion of the customers coming for their everyday needs. This encourages people to come to this retail center to do their laundry. Even if they aren’t at the mall for a few hours, it is likely that they will return to the same place to do their laundry. It’s convenient for them, plus the parking is no problem.

The other advantage of a U-shaped mall is sign visibility. There is a sign out front that will include many of the stores, including yours. Passersby will spot the word “Laundromat” and know that they can do their cleaning there. When they park in the parking area, they will take notice, so visibility is high. This is a big plus. Of course, a strip mall will have even more visibility, as the premises is on the main road.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!

About the author

Howard Scott

Industry Writer and Drycleaning Consultant

Howard Scott is a former business owner, longtime industry writer and drycleaning consultant. He welcomes questions and comments and can be reached by writing Howard Scott, Dancing Hill, Pembroke, MA 02359; by calling 781-293-9027; or via e-mail at [email protected].

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