Start Your Business on the Right Side of the Street

Times are tough for small businesses. Seemingly small considerations – such as which side of the street you choose for your business – can be a huge advantage or a hinderance.

We’ve seen a ton of them come and go, and driving along certain stretches of highway, they’re commonplace. It’s also common for me to see one business after another fail in a location that seems to be doomed. But these are often in locations where parking is impossible, and entering the store seems dangerous.

There’s a corner on 34th and Belmont here in Portland, for example, where I just can’t imagine being successful at anything more than a laundromat. That’s exactly what sat there for years, but when it finally closed, not even a renovation of the building could attract a renter. And you can bet that the one that lands there won’t fare much better. There’s no apparent parking near the store, the roads are so narrow that the cars drive inches from the sidewalk, and the sidewalk itself is small. You can see as you drive by that you have only a few feet between the entrance and a busy roadway. Who is going to walk in there?

Similarly, when Stumptown Coffee Roasters opened its first location on Southeast Division, it is noteworthy that it was on the North side of the street. In this location, many people drive past it on their way to work in the morning. If it were on the other side of the street, folks would have to cross a busy street twice to get a coffee in the morning. That’s a much harder sell, which is why I can think of four or so more that you pass in the morning, on the same side of the same street. And not one on the other side.

Your business might be quite different from a coffee shop, but the lesson is an important one. Beware of starting a business on the “wrong side of the street,” regardless of your industry.

Raymond Brigleb

Creative Director, dreamer, partner, father, musician, photographer. Has been known to ride the rails. Pulls one heck of a shot.