Location, location, location…
It may be a cliché, but the saying is true and couldn’t be more important for a juice bar. Opening any business is stressful. They’re so many things to consider and juggle – finding a catchy name, designing a logo, developing recipes, ordering equipment, sourcing produce, making sure your financial projections are realistic, etc. It’s enough to literally make your head hurt. 

When it comes time to start looking at retail space, you may be tempted to think “whew, this is a piece of cake, I’ll just pick a location that I like and is in my budget.” Okay, one of those factors is important – if you didn’t guess, it’s the “in my budget” one. But the list of things to consider is long; and picking a space that you like isn’t even on it. 

Signing a lease is a big deal. Take the time to get it right.

Sure you want to enjoy going to work and feel comfortable in the space you choose. But this is a big investment and usually includes signing a personal guarantee. Best to be cautious. Avoid rushing into signing a lease just because the space is cheap or because your realtor has told you someone else is looking at the property (a shady tactic sometimes used by unscrupulous realtors.)

Once you’ve signed the lease, changing your recipes is easy; changing location is not. Picking the best location deserves ample time to do it right. By figuring out your location needs first, and making a checklist, you can compare different properties with confidence and know that when you do sign on the dotted line, the space is definitely the best for your juice bar.

Create a checklist to make finding the right retail spot easy.
Go through the list of questions below and write down your answers – don’t just think about them. Then prioritize the list. You’ll find that some are wants rather than needs. The point of this exercise is to really understand the type of space your juice bar needs and can financially support. Be honest when answering the questions and prioritizing – your future self will thank you immensely. 

You should end up with a checklist that you take with you to every property you look at. Knowing your particular needs and giving this info to your commercial realtor will not only help you pick the right location but will avoid wasting your time looking at properties that won't work.


Caption: Probably not a good choice for your juice bar

Alt text: a run-down log cabin isn’t a great spot for a juice bar


18 questions to help you find the right commercial space.

  1. How much space do you need?

    Best to be conservative on this one. Most leases are factored on a per square foot cost. A bigger space = higher rent.

  2. How much space can you afford?

    If you’re a new business, hopefully you’ve done  some preliminary financial estimates (breakeven analysis is essential!) and know what you can afford for rent. According to The Juice Consultant, the rent to sales ratio should be 7-10% for a juice bar. Meaning that your rent should be 7-10% of your gross income. You also need to consider the build-out cost for the space (the construction needed to get your space into move-in condition).

  3. Who and where is your customer base?

    Determine your target market and be specific! You may feel that everyone in your town needs your juice, but realistically not everyone will become your customer. Narrow your target and they’ll be easier to hit with your marketing.

  4. Do you need to be close to your customers or are they willing to drive?

    If they’re willing to drive, how far? Two miles? Five miles? Ten miles? Some of this depends on how unique your juice bar is and where your competition is located.

  5. Do you want a lot of foot traffic at your location?

    Then consider locating near other retail shops or office buildings where people walk around at lunch.

  6. Does the location need to be close to where you live?

    Consider commuting time.

  7. Will customers come to your location or will you only deliver?

    If you’re only offering delivery maybe you can look at cheaper locations away from the main areas of town. But beware of your own safety and that of your business. If you need more insurance to protect your business from theft, the cheaper location may not be worth it.

  8. Do you need to be visible to people driving by your location?

    Is coming to your location an impulsive action or do people plan ahead to come buy your juice?

  9. Do you need a large outdoor sign or plan on attracting customers with colorful flags or a sandwich board out on the sidewalk?

    If you do, check with your city codes and regulations first. Cities control outdoor signage for commercial property and each city is different.

  10. How many customers will visit at a time? At what time of day? What are your anticipated rush times?

    If you think customers are more likely to visit your location on their way home from work, make sure there isn’t any rush hour traffic that may make it harder to access your location.

  11. What are your parking needs at your location? For customers? For employees?

    Are there enough spots? Are they ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant? (Check with the ADA for their rules.) Is there a neighboring business that hogs all the spaces during the same time your customers will need them?

  12. Do you need to be accessible by public transportation?

    Are your customers college kids that rely on public transportation?

  13. What type of businesses do you want around you? Are there certain businesses that would help your business? Or hurt you?

    A gym or spa would be a great neighbor, but a smelly automotive repair shop might not.

  14. What type of neighborhood do you want to be in?

    Will your customers feel comfortable walking into your shop?

  15. Do you need a storeroom? An office? Customer bathrooms?

    If you’re planning on shipping out much of your juice, is it better to use cheaper space for storage, distribution, and an office? Also, customer bathrooms must be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and it can be expensive to retrofit older bathrooms. Check with your city building codes.

  16. Do you need anything special for vendor deliveries? Or customer pick-ups?

    Special parking for quick pick-ups or a drive-thru window are handy when customers are in a hurry.

  17. Do you have any other particular requirements for your location?

    Do you need 3-phase electrical for your equipment? High-speed internet access?

  18. Are the lease terms reasonable? What is the length? 3-5 years is average. What’s included?

    Pay attention to who’s responsible for maintenance and repair of things like the HVAC, roof, etc.

Remember to go through this list and write down your answers. Decide which are wants and which are needs. Then prioritize. 

Don’t let emotions guide your decision. It’s tempting, but you really need to be practical. You may like a particular location, but if it doesn’t fit your needs look elsewhere. Use your checklist. In the long run, you’ll be much happier and your business more profitable.

Laura Babcock is a marketing consultant and copywriter working for Sailor Plastic Bottles Inc. Check out her post on product upselling.