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Hi Leetoki,

Welcome to Flying Solo :)

When I’m not hanging out here on Flying Solo, most of my work is in the natural health industry, and many moons ago I spent quite a few years working in HF stores, so I can tip in a couple of ideas here – but should say upfront that I have no expertise whatsoever in shopping centre layouts or leases.

Personally if I were in your shoes, I would go and camp out on that level of the centre for about a week and confirm exactly how many people actually visit it – then do the same on the other level(s) and compare the stats. I am very nervous for you if it’s a ghost town, as it will very much limit your passing traffic and I don’t think you should give yourself a disadvantage that big if you can avoid it. Also pay attention to what types of shopping bags people are carrying – are the ones on your level only shopping at the department store, or do you see evidence of them visiting multiple stores?

Secondly, bear in mind who your competitors within the centre will be: the pharmacy and the supermarket. Is your proposed shop on the same level as them? Like it or not, people will compare prices across these three stores if they are all in the same centre – you don’t want to be so far away that people can’t be bothered going up the escalator or whatever to find out if your prices are better. You DO want to be right where they’re going to be walking anyway so that popping in to ask your product or health advice is really easy for them.

And lastly, are you expecting much of your turnover will come from food items (i.e. pantry items, not eat in/takeaway food)? If so, this reinforces my feelings that you’ll be best to be positioned close to the supermarket. The food products that you’ll do really well with are the specialist ones that they don’t stock, and again, this will work best for you if you’re pretty close by. This applies to supplements too – if someone goes to the supermarket/pharmacy looking for a particular brand of product and it’s not available there, they’ll often go to the HFS to pick it up. If the HFS isn’t handy, they’ll be more inclined to simply brand switch rather than trek a long way to the HFS.

In general, you’ll find that people will rarely make a trip to the shopping centre purely to visit the HFS – they will incorporate that trip into their regular grocery shop, and so it is best to be en route to there. In contrast, people DO often make a special trip to the pharmacy to pick up a script, and to department stores for clothes etc, and will often shop for other things in those stores while they’re there.

I hope that helps your thinking a little, but please do take my comments with a grain of salt as it is a long time since I’ve been on the retailer side rather than the supplier side of the HF industry.

If I could add one more tip, it is that you should do very thorough investigation of the pharmacy in the centre and try to gauge an idea of its turnover and how it operates as a retailer. You may find that they react very aggressively to your presence in the centre (after all, you stand to steal more than a few sales from them). Your business model should allow for the possibility of them (and possibly the supermarket) responding to your presence with deep discounts. If you want to be competitive, you will need to be able to match their pricing without sending yourselves broke!

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions for me, and if you’re at the stage yet of considering which product ranges you’d like to stock, I’d love the chance to introduce you to my products, Tribe of the Tree flower essences. (Please excuse the plug!)

Thanks again for joining the forum – I hope you pick up lots of handy info here,
Jayne