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The retail business can be daunting, with major outlays of cash, time and effort required to open even a small vending space. Rents at malls and along high-traffic streets are high, and they don't include overhead such as utilities, employee costs, and inventory. Individuals and small businesses looking to grow their public exposure have a less-expensive alternative in mall kiosks.
Choose a High Traffic Location
As with storefronts, location is important for the success of a mall kiosk. High foot traffic is also essential, as is proximity to amenities that will draw customers to your product displays. A hair stylist in the vicinity, for example, may attract people looking for toiletries or low-cost accessories for their hair or clothes. A nearby toy store or playground will bring parents looking for gifts or baby gear. Management may want to discourage any direct competition with tenants occupying their costly retail space.
Negotiate the Rent
When you contact management, ask questions about the costs, the regulations, and the monthly rent arrangement. Does the mall require "key money" or a fee that covers construction or signage of your kiosk? Does the rent vary month to month – rising around Christmas, or falling in the dead of summer? Will the mall charge an additional percentage of your monthly sales, or take the greater of your sales and the fixed rent amount?
Study any materials the mall provides outlining your rights and obligations as a renter, including the hours you can operate and any restrictions on your displays and inventory. When renting a kiosk in a mall, your revenues will depend on how long and when you are permitted to trade.
Draw Up a Lease
Stay in touch with the mall to learn of available kiosk space. Inquire into the turnover rate: how fast kiosk operators are opening and closing, and if the mall adds additional spots when the holiday season draws nigh. Talk to kiosk operators to get their opinion on management and the venue. Request a sample lease and study the details. At this point, it's wise to hire an attorney well-versed in retail business legalities, including lease arrangements with mall operators.
Obtain Licenses and Permits
Ensure that you've got all necessary licenses and building permits. Regulations vary by the city or county where the mall is located. There may be restrictions on the size of the kiosk, the minimum width of walkways around the kiosk, and the distance between kiosks. The local fire code may require that your kiosk have a fire extinguisher, and allow visitors clear access to mall exits in case of an emergency.
In addition, you may need a local business permit that allows you to sell your goods to the public, as well as special licenses for items such as food, health and beauty products.
Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.