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This water testing/checkout area was supposed to have an entrance and an exit. One was removed during the design process, making the flow of staff on busy days difficult.

Smooth Moves

Exploring the overlooked details of relocation

This water testing/checkout area was supposed to have an entrance and an exit. One was removed during the design process, making the flow of staff on busy days difficult.

Opening a new location or changing store sites is an exciting prospect. Once the major logistics are mapped out and all that is left to do is move, it often seems you’re on the downward slope. After all, the relocation happens after all the complicated components are over, right?

As many business owners have discovered, there are all kinds of moving parts involved in adding a new location or changing sites. While you’re busy putting energy into sidestepping the major blunders that can occur during a move, sometimes the details get overlooked and drag the process out.

It’s a scenario that Wes Humbert, general manager of Goodall Pools & Spas in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, experienced during a recent move of one of its five stores to a strip mall location that was previously a greeting card store.

“They had shelving units that had an excess of electric outlets high above the wall display units that lined the perimeter of the store,” Humbert explains. “These may have been adequate for card displays but are not sufficient for typical store setups. We did covert some of these to lower accessible outlets, but not enough. Hence, there are more extension cords running in the background than what we would typically like to see.”

For Norm Coburn of New England Spas in Natick, Massachusetts, the things that get missed often have a lot to do with outside sources. Before moving, he advises being well informed of fire code and sprinkler requirements; the cost of electrical needs and cables for internet connectivity; town signage laws; door requirements for loading docks and vehicles; and realistic timing for permitting. “This can really be a problem if you have a hard ‘move out’ date,” Coburn says.

Occasionally, having too many hands in the pot makes the process more complicated, as everyone may not be on the same page, something Humbert learned.

The card shop that was housed in Goodall Pools & Spas’ new location had outlets high on the walls. Goodall removed some of them, but they didn’t relocate enough of these hard-to-reach outlets before move-in.

“In one of our new store build-outs, we designed a checkout and water test station that was to have two entrances and exits to facilitate moving in and out to the sales floor for our staff,” Humbert says. During the design and build process, the company’s outside consultant deemed one of the entrances unnecessary. No one caught this modification until after the counter was constructed and installed.

“As a result, we have one entrance and exit to this really attractive water test/cash out area, which can be pretty busy during the height of the season,” Humbert says. “Functionally it’s not bad, but it would have created more fluid access during our busy season if we had managed to stay on top of the design monitoring prior to the completion of construction.”

Don Riling, president of Olympic Hot Tub in Seattle, says these things are often not due to oversights but completely unforeseen issues — such as discovering the landlord doesn’t have the mailbox key or doesn’t know which mailbox unit belongs to your location.

“The only way Google will allow you to claim a new address for online purposes is by sending an activation code via mail to the physical location,” Riling explains. “If you can’t access your mailbox, it will screw up your ability to get the location of your business activated with Google. These days, that’s almost more important than getting a phone number. Folks must be able to find you online.”

There are so many details that go into a store relocation or new site opening. It’s likely some things will fall through the cracks. That said, learning from previous experience (yours or others’) can help minimize slip-ups.


Before moving, be well informed of:

  • fire code and sprinkler requirements;
  • the cost of electrical needs and cables for internet connectivity;
  • town signage laws;
  • door requirements for loading docks and vehicles;
  • and realistic timing or permitting.
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