5 tips on choosing the ideal nail shop location

finding nail shop

This decision is huge and will impact your business for the majority of it’s life. Finding the ideal nail shop location is difficult and not easy for the first time salon owners. The good ones will always be taken and the one you “think” is good is too expensive.

Remember once you choose, you’re almost stuck with it because of the lease and all the money you’re about to spend. Don’t worry life isn’t over…yet 🙂

LOCATION. Finding your ideal Nail shop location

Location depends on what your business model and not all nail shops have the same models.

finding a nail shop

  • Do you want to be appointment only?
  • Are you a “quick” nail shop ?
  • Are you a special nail boutique?
  • Your nail shop a low-end shop?
  • Will you cater to upscale clients?
  • Is the shopping mall in the nail shop your niche?

Too many questions to answer but this will help with your location decision. You do not need all the specific details but figure out what you’re trying to accomplish with your nail shop business. You’re just going to complicate things for yourself if you try to answer every detail. Either the building location works or it does NOT. Here’s a few tips..

#1 Storefront Exposure. 

What will the location of the shop have on the outside? 

You want to be the shop everyone in the local neighborhood says

“OMG there’s new construction there, who/what is  moving in?”


storefront directions

Figure #1, Let’s assume this is our store and we found our ideal nail shop location. This is a very good location but I could already tell you, it’s going to be pricey for a nail shop unless you cater to wealthy clients (high prices) or have high volume (maximize time).

The location has a huge dinosaur on the top, I’m sure “Ripley” put that up themselves.

This gives a high visibility for traffic and a great “tourist” picture.

Tip: It’s great to have a photo-op outside your shop, it used to be called


Figure #2, is a well known burger chain, McDonalds. Although I don’t like their fast food, I still eat it, it’s my guilty pleasure. Jeez…those mcdonalds fries do sound good right about now. This is what you call an “anchor” because this is guaranteed to generate traffic on it’s own. You will enjoy the free publicity around the shop area.

Figure #3, It’s on a corner in a 4 way intersection. Plenty of exposure and very easy to find. Everyone who is driving by will see your nail salon.

All perfect? No. This is just an “extreme” idea.

The rent is probably going to be ridiculous so everything needs to be on point. You should know what you’re doing if you have a place like this. I personally wouldn’t do it , it’s just for our training to show extremities.

Last issue is the parking, there is no parking in this area. For your returning customers this is a bad area. However in exchange for no parking, you have high foot traffic.

In this case, you’re going to have a lot of walk-ins and if not a lot of different customers in other countries. It’s a tourist attraction.

Let’s try another example: 

Store Front 2

This one is ideal for most shops. It’s always in these small area and most of these are not that big of a shop. This is probably 1000-1500SF  and for most people this is all you need.

The parking is OK and there is street parking so they wouldn’t have a problem looking for it. These stand alone areas with no actual “chain” stores are still good because you’re going to get the local community.

The price point will also be easy on the pocket.

happy smile

To make things better, there’s also a huge sign post (see green rectangle) . There’s also a 4 way intersection so there’s no doubt in my mind this will do well.

Guess what, there’s a nail shop there!

#2 Away from Competition 

I have to swallow my gut on this one because I literally broke this rule myself.

Sometimes customers will go to your shop because you’re the only one around their area. You can be evil and smile because they have no choice 🙂 … JK.

Don’t get me wrong, I get customers who drive at least 20mins-30mins to get their nails done at my shop. But remember I work very hard on my customer service and my techs are constantly reminded on treating all our customers a certain way (good thing)

1 Corner , 3 Starbucks…

(I can’t even imagine meeting with a friend at these 3 starbucks… let’s meet at the one in the corner)

Some customers will always and I mean always grind you for pricing. If you’re at a good price point, they will tell you they can get it cheaper somewhere else.

We get this one a lot at our shop because there’s literally 5+ shops on the street within 5-8 blocks.

Made my life so much harder because I had to differentiate myself.

Luckily I’m good at what I do so I did just that 🙂

But the prices in my area is way lower than the average (outside my region) because there’s too many “supply”. Again just because there’s nail shops around does not mean it’s a bad thing.

Friendly Competition is great! Just don’t take too much of my customers 🙂

#3 Good Parking 

There are many restaurants downtown that I’d love to eat and I’d rather be a regular. However no matter how good the pizza or sandwich is, I’m being deterred by the parking spots. So no matter what type of business, parking is always a difficult situation. The biggest deal breaker would be the parking meter and parking spot itself because it constraints your customers.

Think about it how you want to eat at this 5 star restaurant downtown and it will take you at least 10 mins to find parking and you’d have to walk another 10 mins. Don’t get me wrong, I usually don’t mind sometimes but if it’s a regular thing, it becomes difficult.

san francisco parking

When I go to San Francisco, parking is difficult. If you find street parking in the middle of the day, you should get a lottery ticket. You’ll probably need to win the lotto because the parking will also be pricey.

I’m kidding of course and this is on the extreme side again.

Here’s 2 scenarios!

Typical scenario for hard parking in meters or parking in a garage. 

  • Finding parking = 10-15 mins
  • Walking to shop = 5-10mins
  • Mani/Pedi = $35 (1 hour)
  • Walking back to car = 10 mins (toes are not dry yet)
  • Parking cost = $1 – $10 (who knows!?) for 1 hour.  Can you comp this?

Easy parking issue

  • Find parking = 10 seconds
  • Walking = 2 mins
  • Walking back to car = 2 mins

Besides parking, check the local transportation. Many city slickers use public transportation so if you’re next to a bus stop chances are it will be easy to come to your shop. But nowadays people use ride sharing services…

Why are we calculating this? 

Because your customers are constantly doing this since because people are always BUSY.

You might be the best nail shop out there but if clients can’t get to you, it’s doesn’t do any good. If you’re a 5 star shop and there’s a 4 star shop close-by with parking where do you think people will go “most” of the time?

I think you can determine the best for finding your nail shop location.

#4 Find your demographics 

If you ever want to succeed, you need to see where in the market your shop is centered.

I get a lot of shop owners telling me ” I want to target everyone!”.  My answer is, you’re going to crash into a wall. As a young entrepreneur, you’re strong and want to take on the world.

Yes we’ll do it. Yes YES YES!

A lot of this matters because your marketing will need to be spot-on with your target demographics to find the best nail shop location

What’s the typical income in the area and the population? 

This single information can tell you where you should be.

diverse people

Here’s a good example.

The median household income in my shop location is $200,000.

Population is 15,000 with a surrounding city is 500,000

Great area because I can choose to cater to lower income and do high volume. Or I can target the high income and give a “exclusive/vip” feeling. Remember there’s differences in income and with their attitude. I’m NOT saying all are the same and this should not be taken seriously.

Higher income tends to pay the extra price for service but their time is very important.

Regular income has a balance of service and pricing.

Again you should never JUDGE people by how much income they have or what they are wearing. I have very wealthy clients who will drill me for pricing and I have regular clients who don’t mind the extra $$.

Never discriminate.

So never judge people but use it as a tool when you’re moving into a new nail shop location.

One important thing is race is never a factor. Never judge by the skin color. I don’t respect people who judge by their race and nationality. 

What’s the typical age in the population ? 

I love this one because it’s pretty true. The millennials love to use yelp and the internet so most of the leads we get are from the virtual world. They also love to text and go on instagram and snapchat. 90% of the time if they book in yelp I can almost guarantee they are around age 28-35.

young people texting

The boomers and the Gen X look frown upon texting and yelping. It’s almost true but it’s still a stereotype.

#5 Building Construction and layout

This is where I usually look first because I know the square footage of my needs. For the last time…this depends on your business model.

More likely you’re going to lease a building

So ask your agent (if you have one) to find your ideal space. Most people land in 1,000 to 2,000SF and this is enough. Remember, the bigger the space the bigger the overhead cost. Usually it’s about $1 to $3 a SF depending on where you’re shopping for your location.

blue prints

Your agent knows this so a more expensive square footage means a more “ideal” place for retail space.

The rent will eat a huge chunk of your income just as much as your labor rates. Every single month you’re paying $1,000 to $3,000 depending on your space. This is already a sunk cost and it’s just the amount you’re paying monthly not including everything else.

Let’s assume your manicure is $12 and your rent is $3,000.

In one month you need 250 manicures to just cover the cost. On the other hand most people get a mani/pedi so let’s say your average order per customer is about $25 so you need 120 customers to cover your rent alone or 4 customers a day. Does this work for your nail shop location?

Sounded better huh?

Once you get this number, can you predict how much you’ll make in a month? a quarter? a year? . I think you get the flow and math is the only way out of this.


Here are the exact steps you should be doing when you found your building:

  • Where is my ideal spot?
  • Found it! How much is rent?
  • Found it! How much can I profit?
  • Found it! How much is “tenant improvements”?
  • Great! I got 3 quotes to install the water system for the pedicures and sink etc.
  • Are we good?


So this is how you’re going to think and only YOU can figure this out.


I know how to do cad (computer assisted drawing) so I can draw my own plans but you probably don’t. Draw out your layout of the shop and do 3 different ones.

Choose your layout and think if this works for the customer experience.

  • Will there be a front desk right in the middle?
  • Or in the left side? Right side?
  • Where does the sun reflect?
  • Is the pedicure chairs on the right side ? Left side? Middle?
  • Will the chairs be “too close” for nail technicians to work next to each other?
  • Are you close to the tools?

Many more things to think about but there’s only 2 things you need to cover

  1. Does the client easily find the flow of the nail service, open the door, and they know where to go?
  2. Does the layout save time on my employee’s movements?


A lot of this sounds like “overthinking” but put it this way. My shop has a closet about 36″ from the last pedicure chair. When there’s someone in the last chair I need to squeeze in to get through.

I hate it but there’s no way for me to avoid finding my nail shop location.

One more TIP- Bonus Time!

#6 Common Local Behaviors

Not everywhere is equal but your “anchor” stores will determine this for you. Here’s a quick definition of an Anchor Store

For the lazy:

An anchor store is major retail store used to drive business to smaller retailers. These larger department stores or grocery stores are generally part of a retail chain and are the prominent business in a shopping mall or strip center.

If there’s a Trader Joes, Whole Foods, or a Target , then by all means please have “healthier” nail polish. We use BeBio Seaweed Gel in my shop. I have a small collection and this takes up about 25% of my collection and I’m trying to push it to be at least 30-35%.

Customers who are “health-conscious” , will spend the extra to get better gel.

What you do is sit down on a Monday at a coffee shop and watch people in the middle of the day going into the afternoon. Then go on a Saturday and see where people are going because this can show you how people act in the area.

people walking dog

Is there a lot of people walking their dog? Are parents taking out their kids for lunch or dinner? What are people wearing?

So I’ll go over with on another blog post but you need to match this

People Persona + Your selected services = Your Target Market

That’s all for now and I hope you enjoyed this post to find your ideal nail shop location.

Now go out there and find it!!



Small business marketing, Crazy runner guy, loves good and now start-up nail salon ninja. Aka “Jack of all trades”.

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