By the time an owner moves from just thinking about opening a new store to actually budgeting a project he has doubtless already hooked up with real estate agents, attorneys, marketing specialist, all having to do with the famous “location, location, location.” Now it is time to begin planning the new store, and one of the first things to be done involves scrutinizing the neighboring retailers. Here are just a few things that can be learned by observation, preferably before the tenant handbook is even opened: allowable sign types, allowable lighting types, allowable storefront finishes, allowable floor finishes, allowable extra shop merchandising, retailer mix by product & price point.

How is this information useful? One example comes to mind. Many shopping malls have both “high” end and “low” end sections. Although they rarely admit it, landlords push retailers into slots based on how they perceive the brand. For this reason we will never see a Big Lots next to Saks. Of course this is an exaggeration, but if you are a retailer for a new or little known designer it could be to your advantage to negotiate a location adjacent to Versace.

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