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Kiosks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Definition: A small, enclosed stand from which merchandise is sold, often placed in the common area of a shopping center or public concourse .

Kiosks have become familiar sights in American malls, selling everything from inexpensive gift items to pricey jewelry and artwork. They make mall space affordable for the small-business owner, and mall operators benefit from extra rent and a wider variety of merchandise.

Kiosks have contributed to one of the hottest trends in retailing--temporary tenants. Some of these are seasonal businesses that only need to be open for a limited time. For example, a specialty candy shop may open just before Christmas, remain open through Valentine's Day, Easter and Mother's Day, then close for the remainder of the year. But many other kiosk operators can run their businesses year round, selling anything from hot dogs to sunglasses, from men's ties to T-shirts.

The most popular site for a temporary operation is a busy mall, but many operators are also finding success in airports and other transportation facilities, at sporting events, and at other creative venues limited only by their imagination and ability to strike a deal with the property manager.

For many entrepreneurs who dream of breaking into retail, opening a shop is cost-prohibitive--but a kiosk can be a low-cost profitable possibility. You might also want to consider using a kiosk to test your product in a retail setting before making the larger investment in a traditional store. Styles range from simple to elaborate; whatever you choose, be sure it's attractive, well lit and functional.