Retail: Find a commercial real estate agent
A. I have seen successful retail medical equipment stores in sizes anywhere from 800 square feet to 3,000 square feet. It depends on how much you can afford and what you can find in locations you like. As the economic downturn recovers, retail locations that have been empty for as long as three years are getting filled again. Retail space can cost as much as $2 to $3 or more per square foot per month. At a minimum, I recommend 1,200 to 1,500 square feet. Be sure you have plenty of parking and easy access with a convenient handicapped parking space near the entrance.
As far as location goes, ideally you want to be in a high-traffic retail area, perhaps downtown or in a shopping area close to a large chain pharmacy, a magnet store like Target, or a large medical center. Stores like Target have already done all of the traffic flow studies and analysis for you.
Find a good commercial real estate agent familiar with the areas you are interested in. They can provide assistance not only in finding the right space, but also in negotiating a lease and referring you to contractors who will help you with the building permit process and the build-out of your space. You can negotiate with the landlord to cover part of the build-out cost and for free rent while it’s taking place.
Some people who already own a Medicare-based DME business in a light industrial location have used a “hub-and-spoke” approach. They have opened one or more retail stores in higher traffic shopping areas and have used the original “hub” location for any Medicare billing and warehousing of inventory to support the retail “spoke” stores.
Michael Kuller, RPh, is the author of “The Next Step-Retail Home Medical Equipment.” He can be reached at email@example.com.