What are the three most important factors to consider when opening or
relocating a store? The answer: location, location and location. Some loca-
tions are better than others, of course, and not everyone can be Zabar’s
or Fairway Market (both on Manhattan’s Upper West
Side) with half a million dedicated customers within a few
blocks’ radius. But even those stores welcome those who
routinely drive in from New Jersey and Long Island for
their smoked salmon, whitefish and extra virgin olive oil.
Most stores depend on people driving some distance to
shop, whether it’s from down the street or from the next
town, and that usually involves passing one or two stores
on the way. The challenge is to get them to pass those
stores by and make yours their preferred destination.
The basic elements that establish your store signature
and make it a shopping destination are convenience,
quality, selection, customer service, and cleanliness.
You’ll notice price is not on the list. While it may be
true that if all else is equal between you and your
peers then price may come into play as a factor. But
if your competition consists of big-box operations,
supermarkets or large chains that can buy in larger
quantities and, therefore, more efficiently, then it’s
unlikely you’re going to win in a price war. Instead, you
must compete on the basis of being a superior place to
shop for fine gourmet foods and kitchenware.
Your store experience really begins the moment some-
one walks or drives up to the front door. That means that
displays, signage and overall cleanliness should
be as well-thought-out on the outside as they
are in the interior. It should go without saying
that old, faded signage, dirty trash bins and lit-
Setting Yourself Apart From the Competition