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Retail: Setting Up Shop

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Industry leaders share why retail shops make great profit centers. 

When you think of thriving profit centers inside gyms, retail probably isn’t top of mind. However, many gyms and health clubs are having great success with their retail stores. 

One of those is Midtown Athletic Club

“Our retail shops are a variety of apparel, shoes, products and equipment that enhance our members’ experience in the club,” said Bethany Scheiner, the retail manager at Midtown’s flagship Chicago location. “We make sure everything we offer enhances each aspect of our club — from tennis to fitness to luxury lifestyle, and even workout recovery. This can include but is not limited to fitness apparel, ready-to-wear fashion, tennis racquets, paddles, court shoes, athletic shoes, tennis accessories and workout recovery gear.”

According to Scheiner, Midtown has found success with their retail shop — The Shop — by listening to members. Midtown curates the latest equipment, products and fashion trends to ensure The Shop is providing what the members are looking for, all in one convenient location. 

“The Shop is an amenity that is exclusive to members only,” explained Scheiner. “It allows them to stop in and find everything from renting a demo racquet if they are in the market for a new racquet, to purchasing an outfit to go out on the town in after their workout, or even finding that last-minute gift. We think retail is a key part of how we enhance our members’ lives.”

Another facility trying to improve members’ lives through a retail shop is Rochester Athletic Club in Rochester, Minnesota. The Thrive Boutique and Sports Shop (Thrive) offers a unique mix of fashion and fitness clothing as well as many different fitness accessories like Theraguns to keep customers looking and feeling great. 

“We want them feeling great both inside and outside of the gym,” said Brittany Yaworski, the retail director. “Whether our members are looking for a special occasion outfit, something trendy for date night, or just need new shoes, socks or a racquet to get through a workout, we have them covered.”

Over the years, Rochester Athletic Club has seen its shop do incredibly well. Yaworski said they have found different ways to connect with members and the community to provide for their ever-changing needs and wants. Thrive saw 43% net growth in a three-year span pre-pandemic, becoming a reliable profit center for the club. 

Yaworski said having fresh and new merchandise to constantly entice people to stop in and look has led to their success. “We display mannequins in our front windows as members enter the club — as well as throughout the club experience — that we change three times a week to showcase the newest merchandise in our store,” she explained. “This keeps our customers interested in shopping or at least curious about what else we have to offer.”

Behind the scenes, Thrive employees track daily and monthly sales. By tracking daily, Yaworski said they can plan sales and events to help them reach their goals. Additionally, they do physical inventory two times a year to catch any discrepancies. 

While having a retail store does take extra work for your employees, it provides members with convenience and keeps them spending money inside your four walls. “By keeping the space and products offered relevant to the demographics, amenities and membership volume, it gives a unique draw to prospective and current members,” said Scheiner. “At The Shop, members know they get a curated selection of fashion, fitness and tennis products with the ability to physically see and try on products in a location they visit every week.” 

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Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com

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