By Preston Fassel

Location, location, location. We’ve all heard it before: the geographical placement of your business is paramount to its success, as is understanding the demographics surrounding your dispensary. You’re a hot young OD or optician starting out in the business, or you’ve just arrived in a new city—you need to figure out the right place to put down your roots and establish an optometric dynasty that will reign supreme. How many of us have ever considered re-location, though?

The idea first came to mind when I recently dropped in on an independent dispensary located in my local mall. I was trying to get a handle on their selection, prices, and other information, but kept getting distracted by something insurmountable—the continuous screaming of children from the indoor playground located right outside the dispensary. Now, I’ve always been especially sensitive to high-pitched noises, including screaming kids, but, I can’t imagine anyone would have an easy time making such an important (and costly) decision as selecting frames and lenses with a constant barrage of screams, shouts, cries, and the yells of angry and concerned parents echoing in their ears. How was this place staying in business, I thought? Or, rather, based on the fact that only one other person was in the store when the mall was at peak hours and relatively full, how long would they stay in business?



Some digging turned up that the playground addition was relatively new, and that the area in front of the dispensary, until recently, had been a simple common area with couches, tables, and chairs. Strolling through the rest of the mall, and spotting a few pieces of open real estate, I wondered—might it make sense for the dispensary to try and relocate to one of them? Any of the spaces would be big enough to suit them; none were in the vicinity of a similar distraction; and, while the current location in front of the playground also put it next to an anchor store, some of the other open spaces would also place them in the vicinity of highly-trafficked shops. It seemed to make all the sense in the world for them to, at the very least, put out the feelers and see if it would be financially feasible for them to relocate. Even if it represented a large up-front investment, was it better to spend a chunk of change now and being able to draw in more traffic, or to stay where they were and watch their profits continue to dwindle?

It’s a question I think is pertinent for all dispensaries to ask of themselves at least once in a while—am I being best served by my current location? I’ve met many ODs and opticians who’ve only ever worked in one location, or who—at the beginning of their careers—voice their intention to set down roots in one location and remain there for the rest of their careers. Yet times change, neighboring businesses close or move themselves, new demographics populate areas. What may have been prime real estate five, ten years ago may no longer be suiting your needs. You may very well be in the best geographic location for your practice to thrive, even if you’ve been in business there for a decade or two; or it may be time for a change of scenery. It’s a serious question to ask, though, and one which may not be getting the consideration it warrants.

For tips on how to curate the customer journey shaping their retail experience, check out our CE, Creating an Experience, at 2020mag.com/ce.