Starting a Retail Business
The Village of Wilmette is committed to attracting new businesses while also fostering the success of our existing businesses. Below please find information to ensure that the processes involved in expanding or opening your business is completed in an efficient and timely manner.
Location! Location! Location!
The location you choose must be zoned for the type of business you wish to operate. Two issues to consider:
- What type of business you will be conducting?
- What parking is available?
Therefore, some things to consider and contact the Village regarding before entering into any contracts are:
Determining your type of business. Most non-restaurant businesses fall into one of the following categories:
- Personal Service (salons, clinics, dry cleaners, etc.)
Retail businesses are permitted in all of Wilmette’s commercial business districts. Personal Service businesses are permitted in all commercial business districts, but are limited to a percentage of the district in the Village Center. Offices are limited to a percentage in certain districts. Please contact the Business Development Planner for help determining whether or not your business is permitted.
Are there any parking spaces solely designated for the use of your business?
Retail and Personal Service businesses are required to have 1 parking space per 200 square feet. Offices are required to have 1 parking space per 300 square feet. If the previous business had the same or a greater parking requirement your business will not need to satisfy any additional parking requirements.
Businesses located in the Village Center are not required to provide as much parking. Restaurants located in a building constructed before 1990 in either the Village Center or Linden Square districts do not have to provide any parking. Because many cases are unique, you are encouraged to contact the Business Development Planner regarding the parking requirements.
Building Permits & Build Out
Information regarding building permits for any construction done to your business can be found here
A business license
will allow you to conduct business in the Village of Wilmette. Applications can be submitted to the Business Development Planner for review. Certain specialty licenses such as a food handler’s license are included on the business license application. If applying for a food handler license please provide proof of your State Food Service Sanitation Certificate along with the application. Before a license can be issued the Business Development Planner will verify your business is permitted for your proposed location.
All permanent signs located on the exterior of the building or within a foot of the window require a permit. Businesses adjacent to the street are allowed one large sign to capture the attention of a driver and one small sign to capture the attention of a pedestrian. If a business is located on a corner two larger signs and two smaller signs, one oriented to each street, are permitted.
Creativity is highly encouraged (and one huge component of drawing customers). The process for obtaining your permit includes approval by the Appearance Review Commission. If your sign conforms to the Sign Ordinance, the Commission reviews the sign at their next meeting (they meet twice a month). If the sign requires a variation (a special exception from the Sign Ordinance) the approval would take, approximately 6 weeks. This is due to public notice, a State of Illinois requirement. In the meantime, temporary signage can be installed. If signage is planned ahead, it can definitely be installed by the time your business opens. Please contact the Business Development Planner with your signage ideas as early as possible.