'Tis The Season

Sites For Sore Eyes

Location is an important factor in a seasonal business' success. Some companies find locations for their seasonal licensees or franchisees; others require you to secure your own spot. Before buying such an opportunity, make sure the company offers a full refund if you can't find a suitable site.

If you're seeking a location on your own, be aware that rental policies vary from mall to mall. Call malls in your area and ask for a specialty temporary leasing application. In many cases, you'll be asked to submit a picture or sketch of the proposed unit. If you're a brand-new tenant, the mall may also request a business plan, references, a catalog or samples of your product.

Rental costs--which depend on the size of the property, the amount of traffic the mall gets and the time of year--range from $800 per month and up from January through October. Rent for the entire holiday season (November and December) can range from $8,000 to $20,000.

Cost isn't the only consideration when choosing a location. Research several malls, paying attention to the average sales per square foot, occupancy rates, foot-traffic count and the number of parking spaces.

Remember, malls seek the right product mix, so look for a location where your product will be a good fit. "I might have 50 people send me applications for gold jewelry [kiosks], but we already have many gold jewelry stores in the mall. We don't want [temporary tenants] to be in direct competition with our permanent tenants," says Deborah Georgetti-Piro, director of specialty temporary leasing for Corporate Property Investors, a New York City company that owns and manages 17 mall properties nationwide.

Once you've found a mall that fits your needs, don't delay. Properties with good markets book fast, and malls give returning clients consideration over newcomers. To guarantee a spot, apply for your space at the beginning of the year.

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This article was originally published in the July 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: 'Tis The Season.

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