Wyoming Business Tips for Feb. 5

January 30, 2012

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Jim Drever, WyomingEntrepreneur.biz business adviser

"I am setting up a new retail store. What are some things I should keep in mind?" Nick, Saratoga

I would start from the outside first. What can you do to give your shop maximum curb appeal?

Stand outside, maybe across the street to start with, and evaluate whether you need a fresh coat of paint, new or larger store windows, and sidewalk repair. Maybe you need a planter with some flowers to make it more inviting. While outside, evaluate your signage needs. Will your customers be driving or walking by? Usually, signs that protrude are best at capturing traffic passing by.

Next, go back to your store and look at the windows. How can you best sell your store's identity and products? Keep in mind you should change your display regularly, maybe following holiday or seasonal themes if applicable.

One idea I love is to buy a large digital picture frame that displays pictures of inside the store, products and other marketing images that help attract customers. Imagine walking down a street at night and seeing the images glowing from afar. People, like moths, won't be able to resist looking, and hopefully they come back when the business is open.

When moving into your store, keep this in mind: What direction do you want your customers to go? Depending on what type of products you are selling, your design will vary, but there are a few things stores have in common:

-- Make sure there is room to move around the aisles. This may vary, but 3 feet at a minimum, or if your space is limited, make sure enough room is available for someone to pass by another person.

-- The store should be well lit and accentuate your products. Customers need to see what you are selling.

-- The store should make customers visible from your register area so that you can help them decide what to purchase and also to help prevent shoplifting.

-- The design should encourage customers to travel through the entire store. What can you do to help customers feel curious and visit often forgotten areas, such as the back left corner of the business?

-- Do you have easy, spontaneous purchases for customers to pick up on their way to the register?

Retailing is tough to do just right, especially on your own. Seek outside opinions, and any one of our WyomingEntrepreneur.biz advisers would be happy to visit your store and make suggestions.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, e-mail wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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