What Is a Brick and Mortar Store? An Overview

Brick and mortar is an establishment that refers to a retail store. Let’s take a look at what a brick and mortar store is, the advantages and disadvantages of owning a brick and mortar establishment and the alternatives to this type of retail method.


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What is a brick and mortar store?

A brick and mortar store is a physical establishment where customers purchase products or services and interact face-to-face with employees. These stores are either rented or owned by business owners. Examples of brick and mortar stores include grocery stores and nail salons. This type of establishment is the traditional form of store and the primary way people have shopped for goods or services.

Related: Leasing Industrial Property: a Guide for Business Owners


Advantages of owning a brick and mortar store

There are several advantages to having a brick and mortar store, including that it:

  • Allows consumers to peruse and test products in-person
  • Provides instant gratification to shoppers
  • Lets customers ask employees questions about the goods or services
  • Enables companies to build relationships with customers through in-person contact
  • Offers greater opportunities for sales via in-store displays, enticing ambiance and persuasive sales tactics

Disadvantages of owning a brick and mortar store

Here are some of the drawbacks to running a brick and mortar store:

  • Physical stores have higher costs associated with running the store, such as the cost of employee salary, rent, utilities, heat, water and transaction fees.
  • Physical stores have space limits, so companies can offer only a certain amount of product at in-person locations.
  • Physical retail stores may have hours or locations that are inconvenient for some customers.
  • Brick and mortar locations require customers to travel to the location, which can be time-consuming and less attractive compared to shopping online.

Related: How to Grow Your Business


Alternatives to having a brick and mortar store

Some of the most popular alternatives to brick and mortar stores include:


E-commerce stores

E-commerce sites are easy to operate, relatively low-cost and a popular avenue for shoppers who appreciate the convenience of online buying. Ecommerce stores require little overhead costs compared to brick and mortar establishments and allow you to begin selling your products without the time and expense of setting up a physical store front.


Food trucks

If you want to operate a restaurant but don’t want the expenses that come with it, consider a food truck. This alternative is much more affordable and allows you to travel to high-traffic areas and events to reach new audiences.



Kiosks are a great way to have a physical presence in a high-traffic location without the upkeep and expenses of a brick and mortar store. Kiosks are cubicles or open-fronted structures that allow you to display your products or services and attract customers to learn more about them. You can operate a kiosk seasonally or year-round depending on your sales trends and preferences.


Farmers markets

Many cities hold regular farmers markets where local businesses showcase their products and services on a weekly or monthly basis. At a farmers market, you rent a small area and set up a table where you can display your most popular goods or services and interact directly with potential customers. This option is great for small businesses looking for more exposure and cost-effective ways to bring in sales.


Pop-up shops

A pop-up shop is an alternative that offers businesses the opportunity to operate in a brick-and-mortar store on a temporary basis. Pop-up shops allow business owners to rent out commercial or retail real estate for a short period of time and outfit and operate the location as a brick and mortar store. This provides an opportunity to increase awareness of your business without requiring the long-term commitments of traditional brick and mortar locations.


Mobile retail units

Mobile retail units are essentially food trucks for other types of businesses such as clothing companies or jewelry companies. This option is great for businesses that want to move to different areas to increase awareness of their company without the overhead expense of a pop-up shop or brick and mortar location. A great way to keep customers up-to-date on your whereabouts would be to use social media to advertise where your mobile retail unit will be next.


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