Solly’s – The Right Location is Not Always Visible

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29 Jul Solly’s – The Right Location is Not Always Visible

The Right Location is Not Always Visible

They say location, location, location is the most important in the retail and restaurant business. Generally that means high traffic and high rent. Finding the right location for Solly’s however, was more about having a clear vision and overcoming difficult challenges.

While we were in the planning stages of Solly’s I regularly walked up Main street, in the early am for a coffee and donut (cake bagel). This little spot, just off Main street on 28th ave. caught my eye. It looked very inviting and I was drawn to take a closer look at it. I visioned a charming sidewalk patio with bistro chairs and tables and the place buzzing with local area customers. This spot reminded me of one of those “best kept secrets” in places like New York, Paris or Montreal. A special place that only the locals knew and often bragged about.

At the time, the space was not for lease sign and was filled with antique furniture. I decided to check it out anyway and got in contact with the landlord. I asked him for a meeting to discuss leasing the space. He agreed to meet at a nearby restaurant.

“I would like to rent your space for a business we want to start.” I told the landlord. “Ok, he answered, but I don’t want a food business! What do you have in mind?” Stunned, I grasped at the only thing I had which was to share our vision of Solly’s with him .

“Solly’s will be a specialty fresh bakery with quality food and a homey,neighbourly atmosphere. This will be a place where the neighborhood locals will come to get their fresh daily baking. We have done our research and local area people really want a business like this. We are experienced, mature and responsible business people and know what we are doing. Solly’s will be a good tenant for you, good for Main street merchants and the people who live around here.” I told him.

I guess my vision and passion peaked his interest as did the potential to bring more traffic to Main street which was not a popular shopping area at the time. I convinced him to lease his space which he offered to us at half the rental rate they were charging on the Main street.

Solly’s turned out just as we had envisioned, in fact even better than we imagined! It was a hit from day 1, with line-ups out the door and locals regularly gathering on mornings and weekends to enjoy Solly’s great baking and neighbourly atmosphere.

Realtors would tell me they actually mentioned the close proximately to Sollys’ in their pitch to would-be home buyers. Our lower profile location turned out to be a positive exactly for the reasons I thought. Solly’s East 28th had almost secret location and mystic to it and the low rent really helped our cash flow in the first year.

The best location, for a business is not  always the one with the highest visibility and traffic. If you have very good and unique product, your place can become a “destination” and a less prominent location can actually turn out to be an advantage for both you and your business.