Own a small business + looking for a retail space?

We’re here to guide you through the process of leasing a brick-and-mortar location.

So, you have decided to start a new business. Or maybe your current business is ready to grow. Whatever the case may be, you find yourself in need of a brick-and-mortar space, a physical location to take your small business to the next level.

It’s a big step, but don’t worry, Graffito has you covered. We’ve created this Small Business Tool Kit using our team’s extensive experience in leasing, advising, planning, and developing retail real estate in Greater Boston and beyond. From selecting a space and design team, to working with landlords and brokers, our tool kit will guide you along the way.

We have written this guide with the perspective of a retailer/restaurateur in mind — that’s you! — to take you from the planning stages to the opening of your business.

We’ve also tailored our recommendations and glossary through an equity lens, trying our best to put ourselves in the shoes of a first-time business owner who may not have access to expert resources due to systemic racism and discrimination, landlord biases, and high-transactional barriers of entry to retail real estate. We don’t always encounter those barriers in our work, but we know they do exist for many small business owners.

This guide is also available as a printed and bound publication that is available for retailers by request. Please email us to obtain a physical copy, or download a PDF for digital viewing by clicking the button in this site’s footer.

What’s In This Toolkit?

Lots of helpful information, broken down section-by-section to make it easier to understand. Plus, a helpful list of defined key terms and additional resources to help you on your journey to retail leasing.

Phase I:
Planning + Outreach

  • Preparing Your Concept Deck
  • Search Criteria + Considerations

Phase II:
Real Estate Search

  • Engaging a Broker
  • Independent Search

Phase III:
Touring + Vetting Real Estate Opportunities

  • Landlord & Building Considerations
  • Physical Conditions
  • Labor Requirements
  • Economics
  • Schedule
  • Permits/Licenses

Phase IV:
Due Diligence + Planning

  • Questions to Ask
  • Assembling Your Project Team
  • Project Financing

Phase V:
Proposal + Lease Negotiation

  • Correspondence
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Signing Papers

Phase VI:
Design, Permitting + Construction

  • Team + Your Role
  • Schedule
  • Design
  • Construction

Phase VII:

  • Final Space Improvements + Fit Out
  • Hiring + Training Staff
  • Marketing + Promotion
  • Soft Opening
  • Full Opening
  • Post-Opening


A collection of resources to help further your understanding of the topics covered in this tool kit

Key Terms

A helpful glossary with definitions for some of the most commonly used terms in the real estate industry

Ready to get started on your journey to leasing a brick-and-mortar space?