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Tips to Consider When Searching for an Independent Retail Space

Tips to Consider When Searching for an Independent Retail Space

As a Commercial Real Estate Tenant Representative, I work with a variety of business each with their own needs for commercial real estate space. The ability to work with an independent retailer is often unique because the checklist of requirements is drastically different than a commercial office building.  Finding a space that fits the products being sold, target audience (convenience and visibility with customers is critical), and potential foot traffic is a fun and rewarding challenge. Outlined below are a few options to consider for independent retailers when considering commercial space.

Mall, Strip Mall, or Standalone Building

Location, location, location.  Making sure you pick a store front in the right location is critical to the success of your business, and a lot of it depends on what kind of business you have.  If you are a hip clothing store whose demographic is Millennials you might want to select a location in Center City or Manayunk with high foot traffic and visibility to your target demographic.  If you are a high-end clothing boutique who caters to a demographic in their 40-60s you might want to consider a standalone building or part of an outdoor town center like Suburban Square or Lancaster Avenue in Wayne.

Renting, Leasing, or Buying

To buy, or not to buy? Another factor you need to take into account is whether you want to rent or buy your retail location. There are pros and cons with each option and it will depend on what kind of capital you have available starting or relocating your business.  Another key is how long you will use the location and how much capital you need to invest in it.  A bank or healthcare provider may want to put down stakes to serve the community for the long term.  They also may have to invest a lot to finish the space for their use.  Therefore buying can make sense.  A merchandiser may need the flexibility provided by a lease.

Leasing is the most common option among retailers. Leasing is less Capital intensive and usually, requires less property management depending on the lease and the landlord.  This allows a retailer one less thing to worry about so they can focus on their business. When it comes to building maintenance, upkeep, landscaping and more it can become another full-time job.   If you choose to lease be sure your Tenant Representative explains the specifics of the lease agreement so you understand your liability as an occupant. This can be a huge weight off your shoulders compared to owning and maintaining the building and property.

Tenant Improvements – The Potential of the Space

When it comes to your retail space be sure that you are versed with your needs to create the space you want. The manner in which a Retailer displays its products/merchandise or services is unique. Therefore, you may need to spend some dollars finishing a “vanilla box” to suit your business. Some landlords are positioned to financing Tenant Improvements, other are not.  An experienced commercial real estate tenant representative will know the right questions to ask and help to ensure you will get what you need to make the space your own.

For a retail space, the flow of the store and the functionality of the different areas can be critical to its success so make sure you take those factors into account when searching for your location.

As you can see there are many factors that go into deciding which location is best for your retail location.  These 3 considerations are the tip of the iceberg for a great start to success.

Looking for a qualified tenant representative to get your commercial real estate search started?  I am happy to provide a free consultation to review your needs as it relates to the Greater Philadelphia commercial real estate market. 215.793.0406

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Montgomery County Office Trends 2016


Let’s look at trends in the office markets in Montgomery County mid year to the Fall 2016.

Vacancy in the overall market is just under 12%. The average gross rent is $24.00 psf per year, BUT quality matters. Looking at vacancy and rental rate trends in Class A Office Space in Montgomery County PA you now see a vacancy in 7.3% and rates average $28.00 psf, please see the graphs below.

Office Montgomery County PA


Vacancy & Rental Rates

Just shy of $24.00


Class A Office Space in Montgomery County PA


Within Montgomery County vacancy and rates vary by location within the county. It is broken down into towns and A, B, C class office space.


Office Market Mid-Year 2016


                                   CLICK TO ENLARGE

Montgomery County

Class A, B, C


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Office Space that Works Harder and Smarter??

Office Space that Works Harder and Smarter???

Just read the news in Natalie Kostelni’s article in the Philadelphia Business Journal about Tony Colciaghi designing office space that “works harder and smarter” for the law firm, Ballard Spahr. I have never had the opportunity to meet Tony but his comments make a lot of sense when it comes to the trend often referred to as shrinking office space in corporate real estate. Apparently on the lease renewal in 2012 there was a significant reduction in the office size of about 34,500 SF in a building with floor plates of about 22,500 +/- SF, the Mellon Bank Building. Beautiful office building built around 1998.

According to the news piece in the fall of 2012 Ballard Spahr signed an 18 year lease for about 189,481 square feet reducing the previous office size by about 34,500 SF +/-. Tony an architect with Francis Kaufman continues his comments by saying “We have to stop thinking it’s all about space reduction. It’s really not. It’s about giving people the right amount of space to do what they do… Before Ballard Spahr…..but the space is working a lot harder for what they do everyday……The space just works a lot harder and smarter.” Hurrah to Tony for his success in designing Ballard Spahr’s office renovations, and for his insights into the recent trends in office design. Congratulations to Ballard Spahr for successfully renewing its lease and living through the renovations.

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