If you are renting your premises, enter in your cash flow forecast the amount of rent you will have to pay in the months when you'll pay it.
Make sure that the premises will be big enough to accommodate the range of stock you plan to display. Check that doors (or windows) are large enough to allow you to bring bulky pieces in and out reasonably easily. If the premises are on several floors, are the stairways wide and high enough to permit larger items to be carried up and down stairs. Also consider whether there is adequate parking space for your customers.
You may not need a prime location - if you have the right stock your customers will probably be prepared to make a bit of an effort to find you. You could consider the following types of premises:
- old churches and chapels - these generally have plenty of space and can be reasonably cheap to rent or even buy
- old disused industrial buildings like mills, warehouses, dockside buildings and so on
- spare agricultural outbuildings, if you can get planning permission and the owner is happy to rent them out or sell them
- a modern unit on an industrial estate
- other low-rent commercial sites with plenty of space - look for sites like this near railway property, in industrial areas, in and near to docks and so on
Sometimes units are available to rent in specialist 'antiques centres' - usually large buildings which have been divided into a number of small retail units for individual antique dealers to use. A stall or unit in a covered antiques market might be an option too.
If you've got enough space, you might be able to work from home. But be aware that there could be planning issues to consider, particularly if this involves things like changing the use of outbuildings or putting up new ones.
Your solicitor will help you with the lease agreement but make sure that you are clear about:
- whether the premises can be used for the purpose you have in mind
- how frequently the rent will be reviewed
- how long the lease runs for
- what you and the landlord are each responsible for
- the position as regards sub-letting