I hear this from local small business owners frequently — they get a brilliant idea for a domain name, go to register it, and some cyber-squatter already has it. The obligatory rant about how cyber-squatters should be shot/thrown in jail/etc ensues.
The fact of the matter is nothing can be done about squatters right now, so we’re just going to have to be a little bit smarter about how we deal with selecting and registering our domain names.
There is no reason in the world that a brick-and-mortar business that does no advertising outside of its geographical area needs a generic domain name. Consider geographically specific domain names. If your store is in Lafayette, Indiana, you can find a ton of domains with your business type or busines name plus the word Lafayette (specific location). More generic business types might run into some squatters, but the asking price on those domains isn’t going to be 5 figures or more — I would be surprised if the BIN (Vocab word, kids: “Buy-It-Now”) price is over $1,000.
Not only are these domains more readily available, they are generally easier for consumers to remember, they create an automatic association with your community in the minds of the consumer, and they help the search engines direct users from your geographic region TO YOU.
While in a perfect world, no one would need to spend more than the registration fee to get the domain they need for the company website, the fact is, there will be situations where someone else already has the domain you need, but is willing to sell it. You should be prepared to invest in your business. Opting for a less than perfect domain in the name of principle is just dumb.