Retrofitting a Big Box Store for Your Business? What Should You Keep in Mind?

Posted on: 13 June 2017

Unless you've been on a media hiatus for the past few years, you've likely heard stories about the struggles experienced by many popular "big box" retailers. Lagging consumer demand for certain products combined with the ability to order other household goods online with free shipping has led many big box retailers to abandon these large buildings for sale to a secondary user.

This can be a boon to local business owners who may have the opportunity to purchase a sizable space for much less than it would cost to construct from scratch. However, many "built to suit" big box stores require some additional construction and retrofitting to better serve smaller business needs. Read on to learn more about some of the considerations you'll want to take into account when purchasing and retrofitting a former big box store to fit your smaller business needs. 

Energy Efficiency

Making your big box store energy efficient may be one of your biggest challenges, as well as one of your biggest money-saving modifications. By reducing the amount of heating, lighting, and air conditioning your business uses, you'll be able to significantly reduce your overhead costs, especially if you live in a part of the country with high energy bills. 

One Texas big box store has made history by becoming the first "energy positive" big box store in the US, actually generating more electricity than it uses on a daily basis. By taking advantage of this building's sun exposure with solar panels, using energy-sipping LED lighting and north-facing windows to provide natural light in lieu of artificial light, and using heat load reduction techniques, this store has been able to essentially remove itself from the grid, using backup power from solar batteries for days when the sun's rays aren't quite enough to meet the building's energy demands.

Although implementing carbon efficiency on this scale may not be possible for every business owner, there are some ways you can reduce the energy loss from within your own big box building. Taking advantage of natural sunlight whenever possible (or, in hot climates, blocking eastern and western windows to avoid the greenhouse effect) can significantly reduce your heating and lighting bills, while adding solar panels or other alternative energy sources can provide you with some generous federal and state tax benefits while giving you a backup energy source. 

Breakout Spaces For Subleasing

Another way to maximize the financial benefit of a big box store is to section off only as much space as you'll need to run your business, subleasing other spaces to complementary shops and vendors. 

For example, if you're planning to run a 24-hour gym from your big box store, you may want to sublease the other parts of this store to a health food restaurant or nutrition-focused retail shop, providing your patrons with some ways to boost the effect of their workout (while providing your tenants with a bit of extra profit). This can help make your building an all-in-one destination, rather than just a single stop on a busy customer's journey. 

Depending upon your time frame and up-front renovation costs, it can sometimes make sense to select or solicit your potential sublessees before making any structural changes to the store. This can allow your tenants to dictate the size and structure of the space they need, helping ensure they'll be happy with this lease arrangement and minimizing the odds that you'll be stuck with a broken lease agreement (or worse, forced to evict your tenant for non-payment). 

By keeping these tips in mind, you should be well on your way to turning your city or town's most recent big box vacancy into an energy-efficient shopping or event destination. For more information or advice, contact a business such as BURTON CONSTRUCTION COMPANY LLC.