Author Topic: What to do with empty storefronts  (Read 3204 times)

Drew0311

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What to do with empty storefronts
« on: March 27, 2017, 09:17:24 PM »
I am looking into buying a building in the city center of my small town in NW Indiana. This building has a vacant commercial space on the main level and a 3br loft upstairs which we are thinking about making our primary residence. I would rather lease the commercial space out rather than trying to give it a go with my own business, but I'm just wondering what type of business can survive and thrive these days with all of the retail disruption that is going on? There are quite a few empty storefronts in town but there are some business that do quite well....at least they appear to be doing well. So I get that retailing might be dead but there has to be a productive way to use this space...does anyone have any ideas?

Here are a couple of mine:

Storefront- (it's like airbnb but for stores, so higher turnover...short term stuff, but very interesting)

24/7 vending machine store- (high margin merchandise and plenty of convenience for the customer)

Hi- Tech space- workshop space for tinkerers with high speed internet, 3d printers, CNC, etc

Good ole bike shop- I'd love to see a legit bike shop in town. Currently we only have one option...Walmart and they might as well have monkeys assembling their bikes. I want a legit bike shop so bad that I would bend over backwards to get them to set up shop in my building. 

Padonak

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2017, 09:19:59 PM »
How about a strip club?

human

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2017, 09:22:48 PM »
Is that normal trying to attract a specific business to lease your space? If you don't want to run your own business who cares whqt business goes there? Or are you thinking someone with one of these hipster businesses will have a better chance of paying the lease?

Drew0311

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2017, 09:52:53 PM »
I believe that a well run bike shop would fill a large void in the city and would be a successful business...so I wouldn't have high turnover. I don't want to lease to a dime a dozen junk shop that sells a bunch of bullshit and goes broke after a couple months. The city is attempting to become more bike friendly by constructing a bike path that connects the park systems to the downtown area, so this might be a great spot and great timing, but that's just one idea. 

adamcollin

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2017, 05:31:17 AM »
I like your bike shop idea.

Blatant

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2017, 05:56:28 AM »
I like the bike shop idea, too. Particularly since there isn't one in your town. Are you talking about running it yourself? Just be aware it's a pretty tough go these days, particularly with the competition from online sales. Needs a lot of pretty specific knowledge to be successful.

NoNonsenseLandlord

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2017, 07:04:17 AM »
Look at franchise ideas, they can provide a market analysis and tell you if you have a good fit before you spend any money.

Check cashing is a great one in some places.  Laundromat, is another good one if there are apartments near by.  A strip joint, as indicated above, if you can get away with it would be great.  Personal training or a gym may work.

You can also start your own business if you have the ambition.  Coffee shop, liquor store, adult novelties, craft store, rental hall for special events, etc.  Thrift store.  Fitness classes.  Day cares can be great.

Do not just think your passion will turn into profit.  What are people visiting the town for?  Or what is the main attraction near by?  Leverage others work that has already been done.

Look at Group On for activities or "things to do" that you can sponsor at the place.  Educational seminars for different topics.  A real estate company.  A museum of things you like to collect anyway, assuming you have a big collection now.  Pottery or painting classes.

Open the yellow pages and throw a dart.  There are no limitations, you just need a good business plan for whatever you pick.

Villanelle

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2017, 07:13:31 AM »
It seems a little strange to go after a specific type of business.  Why not just post the space and see who is interested.  Unless you know someone interesting in starting or moving a bike shop, it could take months or years to find one to move in to the space.  Sure, a business with a higher chance of surviving is better for a landlord, but not if you keep the property empty because you aren't aggressively marketing it to all-comers. 

If you do know of someone interested in running a bike shop, you could offer them reduced rent for a share of the business. 

Other things you haven't mentioned would be an artist's space.  It could also have a retail component. Paint and wine (also with kids art parties, sans wine) seems to be super popular on my Facebook feed.  Generally, there's a sample painting and an artist walks the patrons through recreating it.  Adding wine might get complicated, depending on local laws and how you structure it.

Again though, you need someone who actually wants to open this kind of business.   

Drew0311

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2017, 06:01:25 PM »
I will definitely not let it stay vacant while I search for the perfect tenant, but turnover is very high in the downtown area so I want to make sure I'm not dealing with a failure every 3-6 months. I do not have the skills to run a proper bike shop myself but that is just one example of a business that I think could make it.

I see that some people deck these storefronts out and rent them on Airbnb. I have a house on Airbnb at the moment and it has been wonderful and I bring in 1.5-2x what I would with a long term tenant. This got me thinking all crazy and I stumbled across a kick ass capsule hotel in Russia (see pic) that I might try to steal a few ideas from. I could throw a couple of these sleep boxes in there and really make it a standout property. What do y'all think of that? 

human

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2017, 08:18:33 PM »
You think people want to sleep in one of these in northwest Indiana? Maybe Moscow or St. Petersburg . . .

I think you need to put it up for rent and see who bites. You're all over the place, you want to run a business or don't you?

Businesses go bust, you are going to have to deal with that if you rent out commercial space.

xfactor9600

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2017, 08:35:41 PM »
I am looking into buying a building in the city center of my small town in NW Indiana. This building has a vacant commercial space on the main level and a 3br loft upstairs which we are thinking about making our primary residence. I would rather lease the commercial space out rather than trying to give it a go with my own business, but I'm just wondering what type of business can survive and thrive these days with all of the retail disruption that is going on? There are quite a few empty storefronts in town but there are some business that do quite well....at least they appear to be doing well. So I get that retailing might be dead but there has to be a productive way to use this space...does anyone have any ideas?

Here are a couple of mine:

Storefront- (it's like airbnb but for stores, so higher turnover...short term stuff, but very interesting)

24/7 vending machine store- (high margin merchandise and plenty of convenience for the customer)

Hi- Tech space- workshop space for tinkerers with high speed internet, 3d printers, CNC, etc

Good ole bike shop- I'd love to see a legit bike shop in town. Currently we only have one option...Walmart and they might as well have monkeys assembling their bikes. I want a legit bike shop so bad that I would bend over backwards to get them to set up shop in my building.
Fellow Hoosier here. What about a community work space/ virtual office set up. These are becoming more common in Central Indiana. Fishers has one near the library for instance and Purdue has one on campus in an old church.


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Capt j-rod

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2017, 05:42:52 PM »
Pawn Shop! With all the consumer SUKKAS out there the opportunity is huge!

Missy B

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2017, 08:30:50 PM »
I am looking into buying a building in the city center of my small town in NW Indiana. This building has a vacant commercial space on the main level and a 3br loft upstairs which we are thinking about making our primary residence. I would rather lease the commercial space out rather than trying to give it a go with my own business, but I'm just wondering what type of business can survive and thrive these days with all of the retail disruption that is going on? There are quite a few empty storefronts in town but there are some business that do quite well....at least they appear to be doing well. So I get that retailing might be dead but there has to be a productive way to use this space...does anyone have any ideas?

Here are a couple of mine:

Storefront- (it's like airbnb but for stores, so higher turnover...short term stuff, but very interesting)

24/7 vending machine store- (high margin merchandise and plenty of convenience for the customer)

Hi- Tech space- workshop space for tinkerers with high speed internet, 3d printers, CNC, etc

Good ole bike shop- I'd love to see a legit bike shop in town. Currently we only have one option...Walmart and they might as well have monkeys assembling their bikes. I want a legit bike shop so bad that I would bend over backwards to get them to set up shop in my building.

These are great ideas. If you're living above, I don't think I'd want a strip club or a pawn shop or a cheque-cashing place in the bottom. Increases the sketchy elements a lot.
I think an important question is: what else is nearby? What do people come to the area for, and will the new business compliment that?
I actually like the 24/7 vending machine idea best. The wierd factor alone would be a draw - especially if you go a bit japanese otaku-style. And if there is a clean, comfortable seating space for people to enjoy their vended treats and chill after a long shift, so much the better. I'd put some pinball machines in too.

I see that some of the comments here are along the lines of 'not your business what business goes in' but I think you're right to think about what would work there -- and I'm hearing a subtext about having something that would benefit/grow the community.

We have some successful businesses in my town operating out of micro-spaces; street-front, the size of a closet. At some point in the past, one of the previous owners walled off a space and plumbed it, and it's enough room to sell ice-cream cones or whatever. Besides being cute and funky, lower rents means the business is able to be profitable faster, and better weather slow/economic downturns.

checkedoutat39

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2017, 08:43:17 PM »
This got me thinking all crazy and I stumbled across a kick ass capsule hotel in Russia (see pic) that I might try to steal a few ideas from. I could throw a couple of these sleep boxes in there and really make it a standout property. What do y'all think of that?

Check state lodging law to see whether this qualifies you as a hotelier or boarding house owner and thus subjects you to laws regarding them. Also where will people staying overnight park?

Villanelle

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2017, 10:53:30 PM »


I see that some of the comments here are along the lines of 'not your business what business goes in' but I think you're right to think about what would work there -- and I'm hearing a subtext about having something that would benefit/grow the community.

We have some successful businesses in my town operating out of micro-spaces; street-front, the size of a closet. At some point in the past, one of the previous owners walled off a space and plumbed it, and it's enough room to sell ice-cream cones or whatever. Besides being cute and funky, lower rents means the business is able to be profitable faster, and better weather slow/economic downturns.

I don't think people are saying it is none of his business.  I just don't understand what, "I want a bike shop here" looks like, and it seems like it could potentially cost him thousands or tens of thousands in lost rent if he shops around for a certain kind of vendor, having no idea if anyone in his area is even semi-interested in opening and running a bike shop.  He puts adds in a local paper saying, "rental space available for bike shop"?  So the nice lady who already has an establish market for her homemade soaps and jams and who is looking to start a storefront doesn't bother applying, despite that fact that she has the makings of a successful business, and one which is still fairly community-friendly?  And the place sits empty for months or years or forever because no one wants to open a bike shop, even if it would do well?

Kriegsspiel

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2017, 08:47:50 AM »
I am looking into buying a building in the city center of my small town in NW Indiana. This building has a vacant commercial space on the main level and a 3br loft upstairs which we are thinking about making our primary residence. I would rather lease the commercial space out rather than trying to give it a go with my own business, but I'm just wondering what type of business can survive and thrive these days with all of the retail disruption that is going on? There are quite a few empty storefronts in town but there are some business that do quite well....at least they appear to be doing well. So I get that retailing might be dead but there has to be a productive way to use this space...does anyone have any ideas?

Here are a couple of mine:

Storefront- (it's like airbnb but for stores, so higher turnover...short term stuff, but very interesting)

24/7 vending machine store- (high margin merchandise and plenty of convenience for the customer)

Hi- Tech space- workshop space for tinkerers with high speed internet, 3d printers, CNC, etc

Good ole bike shop- I'd love to see a legit bike shop in town. Currently we only have one option...Walmart and they might as well have monkeys assembling their bikes. I want a legit bike shop so bad that I would bend over backwards to get them to set up shop in my building.

Some ideas from Water Town, MS.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/garden/how-four-women-revived-a-derelict-mississippi-town.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

https://granolashotgun.com/2017/01/24/re-inhabitation-of-small-town-america/

Dicey

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2017, 09:50:43 AM »
Posting to find this later, 'cuz I loves me some Granola Shotgun.

Drew0311

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2017, 07:05:44 PM »
I may seem a bit scattered, but that's just the way I get when I brainstorm. I like to really machine gun the ideas around; isn't that what forums are for? I just feel like there are a lot of opportunities to rethink how commercial space is used nowadays. I am starting to think that a good use would be to convert it into residential space of some kind. Having some experience hosting on Airbnb, I am starting to realize the enormous demand potential...even here in NW Indiana. Believe it or not, there is actually a lot of tourist traffic in this area. It's not just tourists though, I get numerous requests from medical professionals looking to stay for 1-3 months, construction workers, etc...and many are even willing to share a space. It's got me thinking...

Purchase price- 115,000, est mortage- $900/ mo
2 story building downtown, 3,125 sq ft
3br upstairs loft- primary residence
Main floor- Rental space, by room, or whole unit- has a large common/lobby area, 4 separate rooms, and two large public restrooms (newly renovated)- est. monthly income- $2,500 (have done $1,400/ mo with a 950 sq ft single family house)

Central location would make it easy to go car free, in fact, I would actually contact the other residents in the area and bounce the ole "community share car" idea off of them. Seems really dumb for everyone to have their own car that sits idle 96% of the day, especially when there is limited parking.

Population density increases will make people less reliant on car based transportation and increase foot/bike traffic thus helping to revitalize the city center.

This sure seems like a fun way to live to me...not sure it's for everyone though.

valsecito

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Re: What to do with empty storefronts
« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2017, 01:19:34 AM »
Are you allowed to convert the commercial space to residential? You could use the front 50 cm as advertising space for real estate for example. This kind of conversion happens from time to time in smaller towns/cities around here...