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Sharing Space to Save Money

Hard economic times have pushed businesses to share more than they typically do. In a previous post about the sharing economy, I mentioned that nowadays businesses share office space, conference rooms, and even office supplies. Sharing, as opposed to owning, helps them diffuse the risk involved with starting a new business and save on their day-to-day operation costs.

I recently came to learn that small businesses also share retail space. Sharing retail space is a great solution in cases where the perfect location is too large for a small retail shop or the rent is too high for a new business owner to afford alone. Sharing space gives small retailers the flexibility they sometimes need, especially when times are rough.

Jane Hodges, in her article for Entrepeneur.com, shares the stories of real business owners who were able to economize by sharing space. Here are two examples that I believe show why space sharing is a win-win situation.

Terry Heiman, a Seattle-based gift and card shop owner, was planning to expand his merchandise when he rented a bigger store in 2008. But then the recession hit, and his plan was put to a halt. Luckily for him, his lease allowed him to sublet a part of the store to another tenant. Today he shares his retail space with a pet-supply and gift store. In his case, he was able to put up a loft-style wall that allowed him to create two separate stores for him and his tenant—each store has its own entrance, address and separate utility metering.

In other cases, business end up sharing more than just space. Octane Coffee (a daytime coffee shop and nighttime bar) and Little Tart Bakeshop (a restaurant) were encouraged by their landlord team up and share more than just space. The two Alabama-based companies have opened their shared doors recently, and even though they remain two independent businesses to their owners, their customers view them as one. Adopting this business model has allowed them both to maximize store hours and cliental potential. Sophisticated point-of-sale software helps them serve customers as if they were one company and later reconcile which party logged which sales.

This is another shining example of why the sharing economy is a winning approach. From where I stand, I see only winners. Both retailers and landlords get their money on time, and in this day and age, what else can you ask for?

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