Retail in Lombard

The below is an information series that will cover the “how’s and why’s” of retail businesses in Lombard, and the Village’s role in business attraction and retention. We'll focus on the economic development efforts of the Village and factors that a business may consider before locating in Lombard.

The Village’s role in shaping development is to ensure that proposed businesses fit within specified zoning districts, meet building and zoning requirements, have adequate accommodations for parking and transportation, and meet other requirements that will make them a good neighbor and part of the community.  

Getting Started – Available Resources


A new business may find it helpful to have a business plan which can help guide them in certain decisions.  Businesses without a business plan can meet with the College of DuPage Small Business Development Center for assistance.  The Helen Plum Memorial Library is another resource where you can conduct research and view business and customer databases. Businesses may want to engage the services of an attorney, real estate agent/broker, and/or an accountant to help throughout the process.  An architect may be required for an interior build-out and if site improvements will be done (grading, parking lot improvements, new construction) an engineer may be required.

  1. Site Location Factors
  2. What Does The Village Do?
  3. Business Retention

Demographics provide an understanding of the potential customer, for example, do they have income to support the price point of the goods sold, or does the area have a sufficiently trained workforce to hire employees from.  When a business is considering locating in a community, they should conduct extensive research on the market area before making a final decision. They can obtain demographic information on household income, daytime population and consumer spending patterns. Depending on the business and target market, the business may look for a minimum income levels or specific age groups. The goal is to understand where their potential customers live, work and shop before making a location decision.

For example, an established retail store may know that their customer’s median income is $75,000 a year, they are highly educated, and that they attract most customers from roads that have over 40,000 average daily trips per day.  If a particular location does not meet these criteria, the site will not be evaluated for further consideration.

Businesses want to offer a product in an area where there is demand by the consumer at a certain price that the consumer is willing to spend for the product.  Some of the questions considered may be:

  • How far away is the nearest competitor?
  • In the trade area, is there consumer demand or are there already too many similar products offered?
  • Will locating a store in this area hurt existing store sales?

Factors relating to accessibility, visibility, and traffic include the ability of delivery trucks to access the location, the ease in which customers can travel to the business, and other accommodations related to conducting business.  Large corporate businesses may be bound to internal regulations as well, such as a minimum distance between existing stores.  Some businesses may desire to be close to their competitors, and other may not. 

Retailers want to be located where there are many shoppers, but only if that shopper meets the definition of their target market –which may differ among different businesses.  Generally, businesses examine:

  • How many people walk or drive past the location?
  • Is the area served by public transportation?
  • Can customers and delivery trucks easily get in and out of the parking lot?
  • Is there adequate parking?

When considering visibility, businesses look at the location from the customer's view point.  Can the store be seen from the flow of traffic? Will their sign be easily seen? In many cases, greater visibility reduces the need for advertising.

There are several factors a business weighs before deciding whether to locate in a community or market area.  Many factors are beyond the Village’s control, but the Village can maintain a good understanding of market demands for retailers and promote locations that best fit their criteria. The Village does not promote one Lombard site over another. 

The Village has regulations to ensure a cohesive environment in many neighborhoods and to help maintain existing improvements.  Before a business signs a lease or purchases property, it is important to understand the Village Code, policies and procedures related to the location. Businesses should contact the local municipality and Community Development staff to determine if their business is permitted in a particular location (the zoning district) and ask about signage, landscaping, and parking regulations.  Those regulations, and others, can be found online in the Village Code. 

A business may locate in an area that is permitted by right in the Zoning Ordinance, even if the neighborhood has existing competitors, or the business is considered less desirable. The Village regulates location thru the Zoning Ordinance.  Some uses require zoning entitlements which requires the business to go before the Plan Commission and Village Board for final approval.

Businesses also may inquire about local requirements that may affect business operations such as utility requirements, infrastructure requirements and availability, future road improvements and surrounding uses.  

Lombard's Community Development Department can assist with zoning, signage, private engineering, and building codes.  The Village regularly meets with developers and businesses before a permit is applied for to discuss specific regulations.  These meetings can help the building permit process go smoother.  Businesses that serve, make, or distribute food or beverage products will also want to engage the DuPage County Health Department to learn about their regulations. 

Businesses that rent existing commercial space will need to evaluate expenses beyond paying for utilities and inventory costs. Besides base rent, they should consider other financial considerations including:

  • Who pays for lawn care, building maintenance, utilities and security?
  • Who pays for the upkeep and repair of the heating/air units?
  • If the location is remote, how much additional marketing is required for customers to find the location?
  • Does a business need to make any repairs or remodeling to have the location fit their needs?
  • Will the business be responsible for property taxes or does the property owner take care of this?
  • What are the costs for applicable licenses with the State, County, or Village?
  • What building permits will be required and what are the costs?

Last, occasionally a decision will be based on emotion or other external factors.  The Village can’t control this aspect, but it is important to recognize.  A business owner may choose a storefront based on the distance from their home or because a location “feels right”.