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An essential guide to airport store opening

Last week we were preparing details for our new "Pop Up Store Opening Deck" with our Partner Tim Jobber at JES Travel Retail located in Germany. Tim asked me what my BEST and MOST memorable Retail Store Opening over the last 25 Years was. I stopped for a minute and for the first time in my life I did not have anything to say! It took me a minute to realize in the last 25 years of opening over 200 retail stores across the US I did not have a BEST or MOST memorable! You are thinking this guy is crazy. Let me explain a little more.

Every retail store opening was our BEST and MOST memorable! The first thing I think about is what we could have done better? What did we learn from it? How will we improve the next one? I have opened, relocated, remodeled, and sadly closed over 200 retail store locations across multiple sectors including travel retail airport stores, "Big Box" Supermarket chains, Household and Consumer Goods stores, Giant liquor stores and your family owned and operated "mom and pop" store in Downtown USA. We have experience with every size and shape retail store opening you could think about. We will tell you it does not get easier, and it is never perfect! You are asking how is that possible and why do we keep doing it? The retail landscape changes daily. In 25 years, the retail climate and consumer trends have changed dramatically.

Don't be skeptical about where we are going with this post! Opening over 200 retail stores has taught me something that I wish I read in a blog post! Every retail store opening you participate in will be different! Each one will challenge you and that is the BEST and MOST memorable moment you will have!

We promise ribbon cutting day will be the BEST day of your life. AGAIN!

Why you need this Retail Store Opening Guide

Expectations of your new retail store opening are high! Your company is counting on you to open the best store in the market and wow your neighbors. You will be expected to flex your company's muscles. And the problem is you will look around at some point during this time and wonder how you will get it done and where is the help to get it done? At this moment in time, you will doubt yourself and feel overwhelmed with the pressures of it all. That is the reason you need this guide and that is the reason I am writing this for you to look back at. I won't be able to give you all the details and support in a blog post but stay with here with me and you will look back at this during that moment. (Self-Promotion alert here- We are always up for a new challenge so if you need help with your retail store opening pick up the phone or drop us an email)

Here is the guide to opening a retail store!

Planning is not optional!

  • It might sound easy but planning out what will happen at every step of the way and who will do it is the most important part of a retail store opening.

  • Plan every detail from construction to the ribbon cutting and who will bring the scissors.

  • Early on in my career I was not a detailed planner, and I learned the hard way. Now there are post it notes and electronic notes everywhere. If it is talked about or discussed it is put into the plan. Don't leave any detail undefined. It will come back to you I promise.

  • Update the plan daily as new developments happen and the project goes on.

Staffing is Key!

  • You cannot do it all! Yes, your company wants to come in under budget while introducing their newest gem to the world.

  • Do not cut corners in this part of your retail store opening. There will be more to do than you have hands to accomplish. This new retail store must have every detail perfect! That takes the proper number of staff.

  • Your focus is keeping the plan in place, following up on that plan, and ensuring every detail is correct. You cannot do that if you are stocking shelves or putting fixtures together.

  • And there are always roadblocks or obstacles to overcome. If you staff accordingly, they will not hold up your store opening.

Take care of the team!

  • I cannot stress it enough to take care of the team! Your team will be working long hours under pressure to get the store open. Take every advantage to show them your appreciation. You will need to feed them, check in with them during the day to say thank you, ask if they are ok or need anything, keep them hydrated and show them you are thankful with a "Retail Store Opening" gift bag or package.

  • Your team is the biggest asset you have. They determine if you will be successful or not. Show them they are the most important part of the business. Especially during this time. Do not cut corners when it comes to recognizing and appreciating them every day during the store opening process.

  • Be sure to include them in any executive visits. Introduce them and show that you are their leader. That will go farther than anything you will ever do for them. It will be remembered well after the store opens!

Have a Soft Opening!

  • I always plan to finish and open prior to the real finish and opening. This will give you the chance to iron out and really present to the world your accomplishments.

  • As I talked about in the introduction there will always be opportunities and things, we will do better next time. The great thing about a "soft opening" is you can fix many of those things before the world sees it.

  • Think about the day of the "Grand Opening". Everyone will be there. The press will be there. Retail Leaders from around the world will be watching. Your company executives will be present. Give them the best store on that day. Adjust and fix any minor details the day or two priors.

  • This is one of my focus items for any store opening.

You are ready! Right?

If you are just starting out opening retail stores remember that after opening over 200 ourselves, we are still learning. If you are a seasoned veteran at opening retail stores like us, you are still learning as well! As retail leaders we understand that the landscape is changing everyone, and we will need to adapt to it if we want to be successful in opening new retail stores consumers spend their money in.

Planning, staffing, and ensuring your teams are appreciated are keys to any business. They are more important when opening a new retail store. It is important to emphasize don't cut corners in this sector of your business. If you want to introduce to the world the newest flagship location for your company, it is so important to understand you cannot do it yourself and you will have that moment we talked about earlier when you look around and wonder how it will get done and who will help you? Don't put yourself in that moment!

Our retail store opening experience has given us the insight to help others. If you would like help opening a new retail location, or you have other retail business needs you can visit our website as well as our partner office website

WP Business Consutling are a member of the JES Partner Programme, contact us at for more details or visit .

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