Seeing empty storefronts is rather unattractive for an area. It can impact the property owner, local communities, and neighboring businesses trying to attract visitors. If you’re wondering what to do with vacant retail space – we have some answers. There are plenty of creative ways to find tenants or monetize the space, so it remains productive for you and your community. Read on for details of 8 ideas to do with vacant retail space so you can make the best decision. Some can even be mixed and matched!
1. Luggage Storage Service
Traveling is opening up again and there is a growing need for safe and secure places to store luggage. A great way to monetize your vacant retail space is to offer a secure area for luggage storage. Companies like Stasher seek hosts to join their network of businesses that benefit from earning semi-passive income from retail spaces. If your business is located in a busy part of a big city, you can earn a handsome amount with very little effort (read the stories here). You get commissions on every bag stored and Stasher helps manage the online booking process. Becoming a StashPoint is simple and can easily be combined with one of the other ideas on this list.
2. Subdivided Space
With rent being expensive recently, sometimes one tenant alone can’t afford the entire space. Subdividing allows you to open up the location for multiple small retailers to co-exist in one space. This can attract small business owners, startups, or even franchises testing out a new market location. In recent years more people have left their 9-5 jobs to start their own business. In fact, the U.S. dominates the world in number of startups in the country.
3. Event Rentals
You can offer rentals of your vacant space for temporary events or storefronts such as fundraisers, staging areas for job or health fairs, and even flea markets. With more businesses going remote, they also still need spaces for gatherings, such as office parties or quarterly meetings. Other potential events seeking spaces include weddings, birthday parties, book clubs, and baby showers. Whichever route you take, make sure your space has the right amenities for the type of events you want to attract for rentals.
Depending on what type of businesses you want to attract, you may have to apply for rezoning. Having a mixed-use space can become incredibly useful to attract various types of businesses. You can also keep your tenants under the same theme to attract customer foot traffic. For example, your space can have a pizza store, pie shop, tea shop, and ice-cream stand altogether to create a great location for people seeking a bite to eat.
4. Co-Working Space
Many businesses have transitioned to remote offices, leaving plenty of people working from home. However, there is still value in getting up and going to a location for human connections. You can offer your vacant retail space as a co-working location where people can focus on work or hold team meetings. Just make sure the required amenities exist, including conference rooms, desks, chairs, and internet access.
5. Temporary Pop-Ups
Pop-ups are short-term stores that rent the space for a few days or weeks. This is also beneficial if you don’t want long-term rental contracts. Popular pop-up retail stores collaborate with the holidays, such as Christmas products, holiday craft shops, or Halloween costume stores. You can also find summer breweries, food markets, galleries, or clothing stores needing temporary spaces.
Sometimes brands will start a pop-up shop to expose their businesses to new communities, including restaurant pop-ups, sampling stores, and interactive product demos. With the age of Instagram-able experiences, pop-up store culture is becoming increasingly popular among online brands without a storefront as well. It allows them to showcase their products and create a buzz around what they are offering.
6. Creative Space
Creative professionals may not be traditional tenants, but they still need space for their various activities. For example, photographers need a studio space to set up their equipment for photoshoots or photograph products. Artists also seek studio spaces where they can be creative and attract customers in the process – showing their work and how they work. Most artists also prefer renting out their own spaces for interactive art galleries to showcase their work. It can be difficult to get into a traditional gallery or limited in the creative instruction they can provide for their art exhibit.
7. Educational or Training Purposes
Businesses or organizations hosting educational or training events are another outside-the-box tenants you can attract to your retail space. For example, corporations need spaces to host employee training and workshops, and nonprofits can use spaces for volunteer training. There are also professional or technical schools, such as beauty schools seeking retail space to offer hands-on learning experiences.
8. Nonprofit Rental
While this isn’t the biggest money-making option, sometimes having a tenant to maintain foot traffic to your space is essential as you find your long-term tenant. You can offer your space to local nonprofits needing space for their programming or even afterschool programs offering services to local schools. Some nonprofits may also be able to seek the required funding to transition into rent-paying tenants. You can also combine this idea with #5 by offering luggage storage options to help generate money while the nonprofit is in your space.
Deciding what to do with vacant retail space depends on your space zoning and the amenities available. However, the possibilities to get creative and fill up your space aren’t limited to traditional retail tenants. A few interior tweaks and marketing to a wide range of people, from creatives to entrepreneurs, can get your space occupied in no time. Get started with one of these ideas today!
Born and raised amidst the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, I’ve witnessed the city’s many exciting phases. New York is not just a city to me; it’s a living, breathing entity. When I’m not exploring the city or penning down my thoughts, you can find me sipping on a cup of coffee at my favorite local café, playing chess or planning my next trip. For the last twelve years, I’ve been living in South Williamsburg with my partner Berenike.