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I am looking for a store front to move my shop into.  Every place in my city that has lots of foot traffic is SO expensive to rent!  I have been looking at an area that is "up and coming" and very artsy but it lacks good foot traffic.  I have never really been to a chocolate shop that was very successful that did not have a LOT of people walking by the shop all day.  I hope that if our product is really good...people will come to it... as a destination.  Right now, we are located inside of a business development center where we are very hidden.  So far we have been able to do quite well in our first year and a half of being open.  It has been a challenge to get new customers for this reason and so we are ready to move out and become visible.   I love the store fronts available to rent in this up and coming area and they are affordable.  Does anyone have any thoughts about this?  Or does anyone have a shop in an area like I am describing?  In this business development center where we are located now, it has been sort of a safety blanket for us, it is really cheap and a very useful resource.  Now that we are officially looking for our place to move to it is SO intimidating.  I would love to hear how foot traffic supports your business, or any thoughts on this matter.  Thank you!  
~Wendy

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Replies to This Discussion

Is foot traffic vital for a chocolate shop? YES! We opened our shop two years ago on a shoestring budget, on a street that has pitiful foot traffic. The first year was grueling and we almost didn't make it. We have zero budget for advertising, so we've just slowly grown through social media, event participation and good old word of mouth. Now we have our regulars and Friday through Sunday are reliably good, but the weekdays are still dreadful. If I were to expand, I would DEFINITELY get a teeny tiny storefront on the busiest street possible and do my production off site at a much cheaper location. It takes too long to get noticed otherwise (unless you have a killer marketing plan).
Thank you Malena! This sounds like what I have been going through at my current location. I appreciate your reply and will take your words seriously! I want to hear more from others because I have a unique situation...coming from a business incubator. Wasn't sure if being hidden inside this incubator would be similar to being on a not so busy street where I would have some visibility. It is a scary thing because you want your shop to be perfect. I have always wanted to make my chocolates "in-house" but I will give this some thought due to the fact that there is nothing affordable I can find to move into (so far). Thanks again! ~Wendy
No problem, Wendy. We're at 1709 solano ave when you come visit Berkeley. Hours and info here: http://thexocolatebar.com
I think that time and word of mouth advertising are the best ways to promote regular patronage.
There is a bakery I know of on Maui that is off in a small industrial area, that you wouldn't find unless you knew it was there. They are pretty much sold out by 10 am! They don't even have what you might call a storefront, just an old warehouse. But people know they are there, even us mainlanders, but they've been there a long time, and their product is very good.
I have noticed that the scent of chocolate, or bakery goods, or and other food product draws people in the door. You might want to get some fans to help push the good smells out the door.
Lex
Wonderful! This sounds nice! I have heard of places like this. I did go to look at a building on the slower side of town again today and it is perfect! I know not to make any quick decisions and dive into something. I have a lot more research to do. Thank you Lex! Does anyone else have any thoughts? Hopefully this question will help others in our same boat find the right location for their shop as well. So many people tell us that location is the most important thing. Do you agree?
I personally feel that while lots of foot traffic is a plus there are other factors besides just price involved.. You can have great foot traffic and no parking...for regular customers parking is an issue. You can have great foot traffic and they are not your customer, maybe the demograhic isn't right.. I think you need to have a marketing/advertising budget regardless of where you are.
Great foot traffic may mean a mall open 12 hrs a day/7 days a week. Are you prepared for the extra expenses of being open like that? Labor costs are really high and even in high traffic places there are many off peak times.. I have had my mfg with my retail and also seperate from it. I would choose to have them together. It becomes an attraction worth writing about in addition to the great smells. Getting written up is the best publicity you can ever receive and its free.As long as you choose an easy to get to place and market your business regularly , people should find you. Not all high rent district is guaranteed business.There is a compromise somewhere that will work. Think convenience for your customer to find you, park and do business. (safe, clean etc)
Thank you Melanie! Great advice! Much appreciated! I am going to go with the cheaper, bigger space and will have my production on site. We decided that it will work best for us. Then in the near future will add "satellite" locations too...like a mall kiosk or other shops to carry our chocolates. I am excited and can't wait for our move! Looks like it'll happen in the Fall...just before busy season gets here!!

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