It seems every city or town in America has a seasonal store infiltrate their retail district, not unlike firework stands during the 4th of July. While both can easily make a cleaning in sales and give the impressions of shady management, the difference is that fireworks stands pay for land space and the other seasonal stores temporarily lease out all those empty store spaces that now dot the American retail landscape. And most of those temporary stores to date have been ones catering to holidays–namely Halloween and Christmas-themed stores. No doubt you’ve seen the Halloween stores moving into a perennially empty retail space right near your local mall.
Without fail, the cash flow being handed from customer to retail clerk is probably more than all other stores in nearby proximity are making.
For those year-round retail stores that do better business in certain seasons, you can be sure they were paying attention. As disconcerting as it is seeing a temporary Halloween store selling out their supply of Harry Potter masks when a more substantive store nearby barely pulls in a profit at the end of each month, more creative thinking almost always overtakes fear. Such business smarts didn’t necessarily translate into year-round stores creating seasonal outlets in the local market right away.
It ultimately had to take one store to break the mold and one that almost always pulls bigger profits around the holiday season: Toys R Us. You can be sure management of local Toys R Us stores were nonplussed when a temporary Christmas store moved into the nearby neighborhood in the last decade. Yet the Chairman and CEO of the famous toy chain (Jerry Storch) apparently had an epiphany once so much empty retail space started becoming an unsightly reality in every city and town.
Starting this holiday season, Toys R Us will be opening hundreds of temporary stores in different incarnations around the country and finally provide some competition to those ubiquitous holiday-themed temp stores. It’s a business plan that can create so much benefit for a business, it’s a wonder it hasn’t been declared the new miracle antidote in saving the retail market.
Well, of course, it all depends on how much risk you want to take and whether it’s in your budget to lease out additional space during a particular part of the year. For a business that makes better profits during a certain part of the year, getting into the temporary store business may be a wise move sooner rather than later before Toys R Us sets a precedent.
It’s also a smarter way to get into the business world for the first time–as long as you have other financial options the rest of the year, if not just using the process to expand without worry of paying a lease year-round.
Obtaining temporary leases and small business v. corporate business…
So far, there hasn’t been a huge drive for an independent business to operate as a temporary store or as a method of temporary expansion. If temporary stores catch on beyond Halloween and Christmas stores, the small businesspeople out there will have to be the ones to make it a new process of financial survival or face continually plummeting retail confidence. Assuming you own a small business that perhaps has homemade products that could sell well around a particular holiday, consider leasing out an empty store during one quarter of the year to give those other temp stores a run for their money.
The reasons why are because localized customer service and family-produced products will always attract more attention than a national chain’s products. That could even include Halloween or Christmas stores where locally-produced items in this niche are going to appeal to those avoiding products made in China. Yes, most of us are aware of local businesses that acquire or make things right in their state, community or somewhere else in the U.S.A. Almost all of those businesses are suffering more than any other right now as they get squeezed out by the corporate entities.
Any desire to take this on through a David and Goliath mentality starts with the earlier-mentioned haunting sight of empty retail stores dotting America. When I wrote about the reality of ghost malls last year, it almost seemed too incredible to think it of it being a reality on any city street corner. Now, it’s virtually on every street corner as the economy precludes wanting to lease out building space for the long term. These are the places the temporary Halloween and Christmas stores have been easily acquiring the past few years.
Leasing one of these spaces is obviously going to depend on how much capital you’re willing to put in to a temporary store. The best scenario is leasing as small of a space as you can find so a temporary lease for a month or two won’t cost more for space you don’t need. Most of the empty retail outlets you’ll see in your local community are small and indicative of how tepid the populace is in wanting to lease any space for a full-time business.
But a small business owner acquiring that smaller retail space for the holiday season or other specific time of the year is a risk that needs to happen now. Otherwise, the corporate madness of overtaking the small business will continue and mean only the bigger entities taking on the temporary store business model in the coming decade. Even they aren’t going to fill all those empty retail stores, though, until the economy turns robust again if, arguably, ever.
Having temporary stores as a temporary expansion or as a periodical sole business is the most logical way toward making decent profits in the near future and creating an equal co-existence between small business and corporate. Should you take that plunge during the holiday season with localized products and have a temporary Toys R Us store not far from you, don’t fret. Even Toys R Us will find out that American-made or homemade products interest customers as much or more than expensive, name-brand toys.
The temporary store could soon be the saving grace to make that better known to retail shoppers once they’re confident to shop to their heart’s content again…