Middleburg Virginia, population 700, is located in a remote part of Loudoun County and has long been known as horse and wine country.
The allure of Middleburg for some retailers are the rich residents living in the fancy mansions on the nearby big estates and the inflow of affluent tourists that visit each spring, summer, and fall. After all, the very successful Goodstone Inn and Restaurant caters to such an audience. Sheila Johnson is following and and is just days away from opening the Salamander, a new 168 room $400 per night resort and spa.
Most of the successful retailers in Middleburg including Ben and Tara Wegdam, owners of the Middleburg-based retail chain Lou Lou, have years of retailing experience and know their target audience. Less successful retailers are those that think they know their audience but haven’t tested their business model according to Bill Aulet the Managing Director for MIT Entrepreneurship and author of the new book Disciplined Entrepreneurship .
We recommend to our clients they invest several hours of their time at the potential space they want to lease on different days to observe the happenings and flow of traffic. For example, we noticed that in Middleburg most locals and tourists park once and then walk to do their shopping. We concluded the number of parking spaces that otherwise would be of paramount concern in other markets when choosing a space are less of a concern in Middleburg.
An informal survey of local retailers in Middleburg shows the low volume high margin retailers that offer something of unique value thrive the most in Middleburg. If you were to open a retail business in Middleburg and had to choose between opening an art gallery selling expensive art by an exclusive artist or a cafe selling sandwiches, which would you choose?