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There are many revenue opportunities for health clubs, and chief among them is retail. Whether you’re selling popular brands or showing off your own branded gear, operating a well-stocked and visible apparel shop is a viable source of additional revenue, and even boosts your club’s culture.

Midtown Athletic Clubs runs its own apparel shops — where members can find their newest exercise outfits.

According to Brad Houx, the club’s vice president of operations, there are three principles that will help any club run a successful retail and apparel shop.

His first piece of advice? Don’t diminish the value of your own product to try and sell more. “Don’t try to compete on price,” said Houx. “Major retailers are able to buy brands like Nike and Adidas at much lower prices and maintain high margins. Instead, look to carry cool, trendy boutique brands that will make your retail location a destination.”

Next, don’t bite off more than you can chew — analyze your monthly sales and base buying decisions on that data. “Don’t overbuy,” said Houx. “Too often, retail shops are saddled with inventory they can’t move, so they end up discounting apparel and lowering margins.”

Especially in the early stages of your retail and apparel shop, having a reliable and constantly updated inventory management system is essential for maximizing your buying decisions, according to Houx. “A perpetual inventory system is a ‘must have’ for any retail business to manage this part of their business in real time,” he said.

And finally, just as you want to offer trending classes, don’t let your apparel choices get stale. “Rotate the product often,” said Houx. “Make sure you are giving frequent users something new to look at each time they walk into the shop.”

It’s important to keep your apparel shop visible in the gym — top-of-mind awareness is essential. But that doesn’t mean you’re limited to a single space.

Temporary setups to sell apparel can help strengthen customers’ top-of-mind awareness of your apparel shop. “Schedule ‘pop-up shops’ all around your club and during special events,” said Houx.

Pop-up shops tend to be most effective when they are tailored to specific populations in your club, according to Houx. “For example, if you are hosting a yoga event, the set up should include a pop-up shop with yoga wear, mats, mala beads and other yoga-related products,” he said.

A key to success in fitness retail is keeping popular brands constantly in stock. Houx and the Midtown staff make an effort to stay on top of apparel trends and ensure their products meet the demand.

In recent years, preferred styles and products have been constantly changing. “Boutique vendors, lifestyle wear and athleisure are very popular among members,” said Houx. “And sales for myofascial release tools, such as the Hyperice Hypervolt and Vyper, continue to increase.”

And if you’re looking for new brands to add, there are several best-sellers on the market you can add to your inventory.

“For women’s apparel, Spiritual Gangster and Alo are our best-sellers,” shared Houx. “For men, TravisMathew and Rhone are the most popular. In footwear, we can’t stock On running shoes fast enough, and for tennis racquets, the new Wilson Clash has been a top seller.”

Once your supply meets the demand, you’ll drive additional revenue, and strengthen your club’s brand. 

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine. He can be reached at bobby@peakemedia.com.

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