America's Fitness Warehouse retailer shuts doors after 21 years

After 20-plus years in the fitness business, Ron Kret made a decision this summer he realized he couldn't avoid for the store he owned, America's Fitness Warehouse. As of Sept. 30, he shut the doors on his last storefront in the Columbus, Ohio, area. A for-lease sign now hangs in the window revealing nothing but empty space.
Author:
Publish date:

After 20-plus years in the fitness business, Ron Kret made a decision this summer he realized he couldn't avoid for the store he owned, America's Fitness Warehouse. As of Sept. 30, he shut the doors on his last storefront in the Columbus, Ohio, area. A for-lease sign now hangs in the window revealing nothing but empty space.

Calling it a "painful topic" after 25 years in the business, he told SNEWS® the debt had become unmanageable. The decline from having once grown to four stores by the late '90s was partly fueled from slowly losing brand after brand due to consolidation on either the manufacturer or retail side.

"It seemed like every year or two, we'd be fighting over a brand," he said, noting his loss of Parabody when it was bought by Life Fitness, Cybex when it was purchased by Trotter, and Octane when G & G Fitness bought his competitor The Fitness Store.

"Nobody likes losing," he told SNEWS®. "It happens. I've never considered the possibility over my career, but there just comes a time when you lose the resources to operate,… and we just lost the resources."

As of June 30, he and his partner and wife, Sarah, were down to the one store and no employees, selling mostly Bodycraft, Body-Solid, Yukon and a little Horizon. His website, www.americasfitness.net, was still live as of Oct. 18. On it, under "locations," the site stated the retailer was "online only." That, Kret said, was false and was not what he had asked to be posted.

What it is supposed to say -- and what he said he was having it changed to -- is: "Our showrooms are now closed. We appreciate your support over the last 20-plus years. If you have any questions, please contact us."

Kret said he wants to make sure he's there for a while if customers have questions or other product needs.

Meanwhile, he said he still has confidence in the industry and believes stores that cater to higher-end customers have a better chance of surviving.

"We really enjoyed being in the business," he said, noting that he is looking for other opportunities to work for a fitness company, perhaps in sales. At 59, he said, he's not ready to retire. Ron can be reached at ronkret@aol.com.

SNEWS® View: A tough retail market indeed, with consolidation again on both sides being partly to blame for the demise of another specialty retailer in an area where three others still exist. We never like to see a retailer forced to close its doors, but it's especially tough when the door-closing happens to somebody who has been around so long. We wish the best to the Krets.

Related

Imperial Schrade shuts doors after 100 years

The investors behind Imperial Schrade surprised even the company's executive management by shutting its doors on Friday, July 30. Just like that, 250 workers in the town of Ellenville, N.Y., were out of work. This came on the heels of a layoff of 120 individuals in December 2003. ...read more

Nau shuts doors after only 14 months

Nau Inc. is shutting its doors forever. Despite having raised $35 million in financing in previous rounds of funding, Nau was unsuccessful in its attempt to secure additionally needed funding in a series D round. As a result, Nau's board of directors voted to shut down. And, the ...read more

JamesBondStoreFrontOct611_Crop.jpg

James Bond Fitness in Austin, Texas, shuts doors

James Bond Fitness in Austin, Texas has closed its doors for business as of late September. James Bond opened his family-operated store in late April 2010. He did not return calls or emails from SNEWS requesting comment regarding why and when exactly he shut his doors. A notice ...read more

Marin Outdoors shutting down after 55 years

On Tuesday, Oct. 7, Marin Outdoors shuttered the company's Napa and Santa Rosa, Calif., locations, and turned the San Rafael store into liquidation central. After 55 years of serving North Bay customers, Marin Outdoors is going out of business. Founded in 1946 as a surplus store, ...read more

Fitness_sum09_cover.jpg

25 Years of Fitness profiles -- Retailers

A silver anniversary is nothing to gloss over, and the fitness industry has plenty to celebrate -- yes, even in times of adversity and economic hardship. Take a moment to realize it is indeed very youthful as far as industries go, and then just look at all it has accomplished in ...read more

OutdoorOutlet-Logo08.jpg

Outdoor Outlet closing doors after 25 years

Outdoor Outlet, which opened its doors in St. George, Utah, in 1983, is shutting its doors for good at the end of business on Christmas Eve. It is yet another store for whom the bottom just fell out as all the bad economic news began making headlines in 2008. Owner Doug Syphus ...read more

Footwear Plus shuts doors after 15 years

After 15 years in business, parent-company Earnshaw, a New York-based, family-owned firm, abruptly informed employees that Footwear Plus, as well as children's magazines Earnshaw's and Small World, were ending publication. Greg Dutter, Footwear Plus associate publisher and ...read more

Hard Corps Closing Doors After 16 Years

Hard Corps Sports, a Boulder, Col.-based technical skiwear company that has a strong dealer base of almost 150 retailers in North America, as well as numerous accounts in Europe and other parts of the globe, is closing its doors. Not because the company is in danger of going ...read more