Tips on opening a retail store

There are lots of things to consider when starting your own retail business, but what can you do if you have a less desirable location? As part of our series on ‘How to start a business’ our own Sage Business Expert Rachel Parkin offers advice on how to be resourceful with your space and location, and so help you grow your business.

What can you do to promote your store if you have a location challenge? Put simply, the nearer the center of town your business is, the more expensive the rent will be. Cheaper rents apply to A2 locations, those up or down stairs, around corners or with obstacles in their way.

A rule of thumb for working out your costs is that the more you save on location, the more you’ll have to spend on advertising.

Be inventive

People generally feel uncomfortable entering a store where it is not obvious what they’re going to find. A good idea is to stock something cheap like cards just inside the doorway. That way, if people feel uncomfortable getting into your store, they’ll always be able to buy a card. A welcome mat or entrance carpet will also help draw people in to the interior of your store.


Whether you hang helium balloons outside your store or have flowers in hanging baskets outside, maximizing the impression you give customers before they even enter your store will make a vast improvement. Consider props, or some of the larger items you have in-store, to give a sense of what kind of things you sell (this will also free up more space inside). If you have a canopy, try making the most of the feature and decorate it. It’s a naturally vivid display, so use it.


Chalkboards look great inside or outside and custom messages with coloured chalks can give a creative vibe to your store. Alternatively, take advantage of any strong influencing brands you stock – these will have a lot of pull on consumers.


Encouraging a customer’s sight, sounds and other senses will make your shop more of an enjoyable experience. Decorate areas of the store with inexpensive fairy lights, or pipe soft music in the store that can be heard from outside. Depending on what kind of store you run, scents or fragrances might also work.

Rachel Parkin is the owner and Creative Director of the Balagan Group, a jewellery design and wholsesale business. Rachel is also the owner of two retail stores; a boutique and a contemporary jeweller. She is also the founder of Retailrehab, which assists & supports independent retailers by creating a resource for sales generating ideas and best practice.