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Walkable Mom & Pop Shop Areas

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New Contributor
Sep 27, 2007
Los Angeles, CA
Remember how downtowns used to be? Before malls? Before Wal-Mart? We stopped at a little "downtown" area yesterday and I was looking at the variety of shops that exist in this particular downtown. (I have to emphasize that I live in Los Angeles and this was not downtown Los Angeles but was one of the suburb's downtowns.)

This downtown had about 4 good sized blocks on both sides of the street. I noticed:

a pet store
a sporting goods shop
many restaurants
a newstand
two cocktail lounges
tiny bowling alley with about 8 lanes
several banks
three jewelry stores
one clock shop
several ladies clothing shops
couple of men's clothing shops
two kids clothing shops
several gift shops
one candle shop
one big toy store
one furniture store
huge travel agency (I assume they are doing business on the internet)
dance studio
shoe repair
dry cleaners
one clothing alterations shop
two bookstores
two shoe stores
one huge art gallery that also did framing
one wine shop
and.... I probably forgot a few stores.

Anyway... What does it take to survive in one of these "non-Wal-Mart" downtowns? One thing I noticed was higher prices and more specialized services. I also noticed "more uniqueness" since almost none of the stores were part of a chain -- and if they were part of a chain, it was a local chain.

This area must be fairly good to retailers since I noticed there were only had a couple of spaces open and both of those spaces were really large. In fact, one of them had been vacated by a store that simply moved across the street to a smaller space.

Any thoughts on opening a B & M store in an area like this? I like the idea but I wonder how to make it work financially...

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Aug 28, 2007
As with any busines you have to find the need that exists in that area.

Get a clip board & paper & pen & a friend and spend a day or two being a Market Research Company:

Talk with other shop keepers & other shoppers & ask:

Is there anything you have been looking to buy lately that you just can't find?

What type of thing do you feel you could only buy in person & would never shop for online?

Would you mind me asking the price range of that product?

Would it be something you buy more than once a year? More than twice a year?

If you find a product that 40% of the people want more than twice a year, that you can stand to sell. Your probably have a winner & can start your research.



New Contributor
Sep 27, 2007
Los Angeles, CA
As with any busines you have to find the need that exists in that area.

Get a clip board & paper & pen & a friend and spend a day or two being a Market Research Company:

Ha! After I read your post I realized there is no office supply/stationary store in the area! There is no store that sells clipboards and paper and pens!

I'm sure the "right" office supply/stationary store would fit into the area but it would cost more than I could come up with -- and I don't know that I would want to risk it. When I was thinking of the type of things you could put in an office supply store, I thought of briefcases, but there is a luggage store in the area. I'm sure they carry briefcases.

High-end pens would probably be a good seller as would high-end paper goods for kids (Hello Kitty type stuff).

Anyway, since this is a suburb of LA, I'm sure the rent will be a big nut to crack for any business. Once you start subtracting the rent out of your profits, well, you know how it is.... To make any money you really have to have a SUPER HOT business idea, not just an ordinary business idea. You have to have something where people will line up out in front because what you are selling is *that* hot. Office supplies won't cut it, even if they are cute and include Hello Kitty items. :rolleyes:

I've got another business idea and I'm fixing to hit the road to discover what hasn't been discovered yet... Maybe I'll find something that would make a great B&M store? One can only hope! :)

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