The smell of success

jdbruewer's picture

When launching a new business, experts will tell you the three most important things are location, location and location.

I can't say I disagree, but I think there's more to evaluating a location than many people realize. Yeah, the traffic flow is important. The look and character of an area matter too. But there's more than just what meets the eye to consider.

I was reminded of this the other day when I took my daughters with me to an electronics store in a strip mall. As we walked in one of them said, “Mmm, it smells good.” Indeed it did, for this particular store is a couple doors down from a Subway restaurant and ? thanks to modern construction techniques intended to make strip mall walls easier to move ? the smell of fresh baked bread wafts in through the common ceiling.

In this combination the incidental smell is a plus. The thought of walking into that store creates pleasant memories.

In other places the common smell isn't so nice.

A drive-in restaurant in my hometown opened across the street from a waste water treatment plant. It lasted a couple years. Some days it was OK. Other days the wind and treatment process combined to make open-air dining a bit unpleasant.

A coffee shop I frequent is in the same building as a pet store. I first went there on a damp day and I just figured the carpet had gotten wet. It wasn't until I visited on a warm, sunny day that I made the sense of the scents. The place does a pretty steady business, so either other people don't smell as well as me, or they don't mind. Perhaps, as is the case with me, the forget about the smell until they sit down to eat or drink, then it's too late to leave.

I'm a little surprised that people don't seem to consider smells when locating a business.

Smells have been used to sell for a long time. Consider the grocery store that pumps the smell of fried chicken or pizza through the store, the movie theater that pumps the smell of popcorn around the place, or the real estate agent who puts cinnamon scented candles in a home for an open house.

Perhaps, in the future, businesses will join together based on smells. The pet store and the water treatment plant can pair up. The coffee shops can pair up with smell-neutral businesses like card shops or accountants' offices.

Just keep my favorite electronics store next to the Subway.

If they can't do that, I recommend baking bread in a small oven in the back. Just a loaf or two a day should do the trick.