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UP & RUNNING

Lots of homework before starting a business

By Roger Pierce
www.bizlaunch.ca


Opening a retail store is one of the most popular forms of small business start-up. Irina Sobol is living that dream, recently setting up her own shop on trendy Queen St. West.
Irina Sobol knows that starting a business is only half the battle. Several factors have to be considered in terms of attracting clientele.


She opened Audrina Jewellery & Design earlier this month to sell her sparkling line of gold, silver and fashion jewellery for women.

"I did my homework before choosing this district," Sobol says. "I really researched my target market to determine my ideal store location and product mix."

She scored a winning location in one of the busiest shopping districts in Toronto, uniquely situated alongside other retailers within Black Market Clothing at 256a Queen St. West at John St. "Together with my neighbour vendors we attract more customer traffic," she explains.

Image is just as important as location for a new store, advises Sobol. "Image is communicated through everything you do, from store design to pricing to staff attitude. Customers notice all the little things to form a perception of your business."

Fresh, modern, bright and roomy, Sobol obviously took care to create an effective selling environment. "Retailers only have three seconds to attract a customer's attention, so we created a space that really displays our products well," she says.

Would-be retailers must understand the cost, commitment and risk involved, she says. Storefront start-up costs may include renovations, decorating, display cases, shelves, racks, lighting, flooring, signage and opening inventory. "Aside from capital

requirements, monthly rent, occupancy and staffing costs are a big consideration," Sobol says. "Plus, I'm working 70 hours a week."

Despite these risks, Sobol isn't too worried. "I've got previous retail management experience and know this first shop is just the beginning. I plan to open a chain of stores," she says.

-- Entrepreneurship expert Roger Pierce trains people on how to start a small business in the Up & Running Biz Launch Program.

www.bizlaunch.ca





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