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Vestibule: the Hunt to Find the Perfect Location

19 January 2017 by National Bank
Audrey Morrissette

“Location, location, location”: this famous real estate adage sums up exactly how Audrey Morissette felt about choosing the location for her business, Vestibule , a clothing and decorative accessory boutique. The search was a long one, but it was worth it.

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The Key Factor

From the moment she began working on her company, Audrey Morissette knew that the location of her boutique would be a key factor in its success:

“In my opinion, location was such an important thing to consider and it’s what took me the most time! I’m a big shopper and I realized that there are spots where you can find lots of successful stores all located in the same area.” In fact, collaborators who helped her with the writing of her business plan later confirmed her suspicion.

Her first requirement: set up her boutique on a street where there was a lot of pedestrian traffic and people were likely to make an unplanned stop in the store. “I live on the North Shore. I thought about opening my store in that area but people mostly get around by car and prefer to shop in malls. They won’t go to a store if it’s the only one there is,” she explains.

So why not pick a shopping mall then? “Shopping centres are mostly looking for stores that are chains. Plus, the rent is really expensive.”

The storefront was also a critical element for the business owner: “I wanted a window that was really striking, at eye level to tempt passer-by’s to stop in and shop.”

Rosemère, Québec, Saint-Sauveur, Brossard, Outremont, Griffintown, Old Montreal: the many neighbourhoods that the entrepreneur researched over the eight months that she was searching, before deciding that they weren’t the right fit because they didn’t meet her expectations.

The “Eureka” Moment

It was the owner of a restaurant in Old Montreal that steered Audrey Morissette toward the neighbourhood where she would finally find the location of her dreams: “I was eating supper at the Kitchen Galerie Poisson with my boyfriend and the chef recommended that I check out the Mile-End, a neighbourhood that I wasn’t familiar with.”

A few days later, she ventured out to see the Montreal neighbourhood that had been recommended to her and that very same day, found the space that now houses Vestibule.

“I fell in love right away! It used to be an art gallery that was really well located, with white brick walls, hardwood floors and it was charming. The rent was affordable and there weren’t a lot of renovations to do,” recalls Audrey Morissette.

The next day she made an offer and signed the lease.

Beyond Expectations

Two and a half years after Vestibule opened its doors, Audrey Morissette is still convinced that she made the right choice. “The storefront is really perfect! We’re located on the sunny side of boulevard Saint-Laurent and there are lots of other little shops that bring shoppers to the area. Also, there are more tourists in the area; tourists make great customers.”

Even if it took a long time to find the right location, she believes that the time she spent trying to find it, was well worth it. “You have to be patient and take the time to find the place that will meet all of your needs, even if you’re eager to open. It’s important to visit a lot of different spots to refine your criteria and to make sure that you choose the place that suits your company best. A lease lasts for many years and that’s a long time…”

Aside from choosing a great location for your business, the owner of Vestibule believes that it’s also crucial to surround yourself with supportive people:

“I currently have three employees, in addition to collaborators. Surrounding myself with a good team was another important factor in ensuring Vestibule’s lasting success.”

The entrepreneur is still dreaming of opening a second boutique in Old Montreal: “I know that my business idea of clothing and decorative accessories works well. People tell us that they love the concept all the time. I’m just waiting for the perfect spot!”

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