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Hitting a Homer (Part 1)

Finding that ‘home run’ store location takes work but you can do it

DALLAS — One of the most common mistakes made by folks in our industry is poor store location. Whether or not we like to admit it, the most important factor in the success of a drycleaning business is where the store is located. A poor location can saddle an owner with unwanted lease payments and unprofitable stores.

In my travels visiting with dry cleaners, I’ve seen cleaners with terrific quality and service who are struggling because their stores lack visibility.

Likewise, I’ve seen cleaners producing terrible quality who are hugely successful because they are on the corner of two high-traffic streets.

Of course, it’s easy to know if you’ve found the right or wrong location after the fact. The question is how do you know you’ve found the right spot before you cut the check for the security deposit?

While there is no pure, scientific formula to determine the perfect location for your drycleaning and laundry business, there are five key steps you can take to dramatically increase your likelihood of picking a winner.


Are you a discount cleaner who is appealing to millennials? Are you a couture cleaner marketing to married households? Do your customers value convenience or quality more? The ideal location for you will vary dramatically, depending on your answers to these questions.

The first step to finding the ideal location is determining the answers. For existing cleaners, there are services like infoUSA® that can run a search on your existing customer list and tell you demographic information on those customers such as age, income, neighborhood, and more. For new cleaners, you will have to determine what kind of brand you want to be.


Once you’ve determined what your target demographic is, the next step is to find the markets that have the most individuals or households in your target.

One important thing to remember is that 75% of customers go to a dry cleaner within three miles of where they live, so you should look at info within that radius. Fortunately, the U.S. Census Bureau has great information on income by ZIP code that can help guide your search. You can also go to any commercial real estate broker that specializes in retail and they should be able to give you a “heat map” of your area by income or density.


Now you know where you want to be. The question is, can you find a space?

At this point, finding a good commercial real estate broker can be extremely valuable. Specifically, it is good to find a broker that specializes in what is called tenant representation or “tenant rep.” They are plugged in to what’s available in your market and may also know of spaces that aren’t yet for lease.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].