This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.
By Alex Held
Relocating a small business to a new space is a significant undertaking that presents many challenges. Moving to a different location can be a daunting task for small businesses, whether due to expansion, cost considerations or changes in the business landscape.
When Reena Bawa, Founder of Beauty Fair Hairstylists, learned she needed to find a new location after running her Columbia Pike business at the same location for more than 35 years, the process seemed daunting. Luckily, she had BizLaunch to help her find a new space for her business.
First and foremost, finding a suitable space that meets the needs of the business can be a significant hurdle. Generally, this process can take one to three years. In Arlington, particularly along Columbia Pike, vacant retail space can be hard to find, and with low supply, rents are rising. Currently, the retail vacancy rate along Columbia Pike is 2.8%. This challenge can be further amplified if a client is looking for industrial space, which according to CoStar has a 0.8% vacancy rate in Arlington.
In Beauty Fair Hairstylists’ case, Bawa was already about double the industry average (about 17% of sales) for rent and was facing yet another increase in the current space. However, Bawaknew she wanted to remain close to her customer base along Columbia Pike and for the space to be easily accessible.
Through ReLaunch, Beauty Fair was able to leverage Revby’s expertise in analyzing different options, such as purchasing a space, leasing another space or remaining at the existing location with a rent increase. However, with the cost of acquisition, build-out and rent rising, none of those options made financial sense nor aligned with Bawa’s goals. Thus, she decided to rent out space within an existing hair salon. Such an arrangement is commonly referred to in the industry as booth rent.
Once it was clear which direction Bawa wanted to go, the BizLaunch team identified several booth rent opportunities throughout Arlington. Finally, Bawa settled on her new location inside Samaris Hair Salon at 38 S. Glebe Road.
With the location selected, the logistical challenges of the move itself came into play. Small businesses must plan and coordinate the physical relocation of equipment, inventory, and furniture, which can be complex and disruptive to daily operations. In Bawa’s case, since she would rent space from an existing salon, much of her equipment was no longer needed, forcing her to liquidate or store equipment.
Additionally, BizLaunch supported Beauty Fair through the move, helping her update her address and apply for a partial Certificate of Occupancy for her new space while also being supportive in the transition. In this case, Bawa had been in her location for more than three decades and was understandably attached to the location. It was part of her business identity, and it was important not to lose that identity.
Another significant challenge is notifying customers, clients, and suppliers about the relocation. Small businesses rely heavily on their existing networks, and a move can disrupt established relationships. Communicating the new address and contact information is crucial to maintaining strong connections and minimizing any potential loss of business.
Thankfully Revby was able to help develop collateral material such as fliers and business cards with the new address and update the website and Google My Business page, letting customers know of the change. Additionally, the Revby team was able to assist in extracting customers’ information from the owner’s phone into a spreadsheet, easily accessible in one place.
“While the adjustment has been hard, I’m grateful for the resources Arlington has provided my business as well as the support from my customers and colleagues within Samaris Hair Salon,” says Bawa.
For businesses facing a relocation decision, reach out to BizLaunch as early as possible, as finding a suitable space for your business can take some time. Schedule some time with one of our experts today. For more information about BizLaunch, visit www.bizlaunch.org.
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