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Finding a Studio or Shop Base

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 17 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Shop Studio Store Business Premises

Finding a Studio or Shop Base

If you're launching your fashion business on a large scale, or if you've been working from home but have decided it's now time to expand, it's important to find the right business premises. Whether you're looking for a design studio to work in or a shop to promote and sell your wares, selecting premises can involve making a long term commitment, so you need to make sure that they'll suit the ongoing needs of your business and that you'll be comfortable there. Will a store which looks good today still attract attention at the end of your lease? How easily can you escape a lease which has become problematic? How much should you spend, and what should you expect from your landlord or letting agency?

The Right Building

Finding commercial property is, in itself, relatively easy. There are listings available in local newspapers, on property websites, and in property-specific print publications. Commercial letting agencies are listed in the Yellow Pages and will be happy to provide you with their lists. But choosing the right piece of property can be rather more complicated.

Although every new business has to keep a close eye on its finances, money isn't the only thing you should be concerned about when choosing premises. Work out a reasonable maximum amount you can spend (leaving some leeway for emergencies) and don't go over that, but don't just leap at the cheapest deal you can find, either.

Remember that a shop is no use to you unless it attracts customers, and not every available place will do that. When it comes to choosing a shop, location is vital. Make sure that you're in the right kind of area for customers seeking your kind of clothes and make sure the premises you choose can be made to look appealing to them.

If you're looking for a studio, your needs will be different, but you'll still need to be in an area that won't put clients off, and you'll need premises that you're happy to spend long hours working in. A basement studio may be cheap and you may figure you can make it bright enough with artificial lighting, but will you really be happy being cooped up in there throughout the daylight hours, perhaps missing the sun completely in winter?

For anyone dealing with clothing, it's important to find premises that are dry and well ventilated, to avoid the risk of moulds and infestations damaging fabric. You'll also need plenty of electrical outlets to support your equipment, a store for fabric and/or finished garments, and plenty of space to move around. In a shop, you'll need window space for promoting your products. And don't forget to cater for your personal needs and those of your staff. You'll need a toilet and it's a good idea to have somewhere to plug in a kettle, plus a small fridge for milk and snacks. Think carefully about access for anyone with mobility difficulties.

Letting Arrangements

Sometimes new businesses set up in premises which already belong to the owners, but it's inadvisable to buy premises specially for a business before you know whether or not it's going to be a success. For this reason, most business premises are rented, and getting the right deal from your landlord or letting agent is vital to your ongoing business security.

Going through a letting agency is the safest way to rent, as you can be sure everything is above board, but private landlords are not always a bad choice - they often offer cheaper deals and they can be less intrusive. If you do deal with a private landlord, or if there is anything you feel uncomfortable about during your negotiations, speak to a lawyer about it - a bit of money spent now can save a lot in future.

Longer leases are often available at discounted rates and they're great if you want customers to get used to your shop being in a particular location, but think carefully about the long term needs of your business - will you want to expand and need somewhere bigger? You should also think about the wider economic climate - is the area where you're based likely to become less attractive to customers if there's an economic downturn? Work out a careful strategy for handling problems like this.

Finally, make sure that your landlord or letting agent is flexible enough to let you alter and redecorate the premises to suit your business requirements, and make sure you can expect a good standard of maintenance when it comes to parts of the premises outside your control (such as the roof of your building). With the right contract, you can be confident that your premises won't let you down.

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