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A kiosk is a booth-like area that is open on one or more sides. Merchants sell a variety of items from a kiosk, with newspapers, food and gift items as some of the most common wares. A kiosk business is usually located inside a mall or outdoor shopping area, but can be found just about anywhere that people regularly walk by.
The term "kiosk" comes from the Turkish word for "pavilion." The original Turkish pavilions were structures consisting of a roof with pillars for support, much like a Western gazebo. The term was borrowed by the French and Belgians to refer to newspaper stands. It was adopted by the British in the mid-1800s, when it appeared in reference to newspaper stands.
A modern kiosk business is sometimes put in place to provide an add-on service for a larger business. Machines like automatic teller machines (ATM) and ticket booths are often referred to as kiosks. These machines are connected to a large scale business, and are intended to provide a convenience for their customers.
A shopping mall or outdoor center is the most common place to find merchant-manned kiosk businesses. Sometimes these small booths look like carts, reminiscent of peddlers from centuries past. The merchant pays a rental fee to the owner of the shopping center for the use of the kiosk.
Customers walk by the kiosk and can easily view the items for sale. The sales associate may greet customers as they walk by and try to draw their attention. Sometimes, demonstrations of the product are held on the spot. Consumers then purchase items directly from the kiosk.
For someone beginning a business, a kiosk business is an excellent place to get started. The start-up costs are significantly less than a traditional retail outlet, with the range generally between $2,000 and $25,000 US Dollars, depending largely on the product being sold. Rental fees for the small booths are significantly less than the fees for an entire storefront. They provide the face-to-face interaction that most sales associates in a storefront are not afforded. Portability is another major advantage since the process to change locations is much easier and quicker than dismantling an entire storefront.
There are literally hundreds of franchise opportunities available for someone interested in starting a kiosk business. Products associated with bath and spa, beauty, pets, home decor, food, health, education, and electronics accessories are some common choices, while novelties like screen printed and personalized items are particularly popular during the holidays.