Chicago Home Fitness still in business with new owner -- The Great Escape

Amid swirling rumors and lots of speculation regarding the health and future of the Chicago Home Fitness stores, as well as the rest of Scott Egbert’s retail businesses, SNEWS dug deep into court documents, tapped insider sources, and sent eyes into the field to visit closed and open stores to find out the truth.
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As various Chicago Home Fitness stores began to close in mid-July, SNEWS® began receiving emails and calls wondering what was up not only with Scott Egbert’s Chicago company, but also with his other “home fitness” holdings around the country: We heard bankruptcy rumors, hearsay about the entire holdings around the country shutting down, manufacturer takeovers and more.

The companies are private, so obtaining financial information is impossible; however, from talking to insiders, sending scouts to store locations, as well as following the courts, here is what we can determine:

1.There is no bankruptcy protection that has been filed for either Chicago Home Fitness or any of Egbert’s other entities at this point.

2.The six North Star Home Fitness stores in Minnesota have been closed.

3.The two Northern Home Fitness stores in Wisconsin have been closed.

4.Utah Home Fitness’ one store remains open, and another is reopening soon.

5.The three Precor Home Fitness stores in California, the six in Washington and the one in Alaska remain open.

6.Nine American Home Fitness stores in Michigan and Ohio remain open.

Regarding Chicago Home Fitness, of the 22 stores Egbert operated in Illinois and Indiana, only 10 are still open for business. SNEWS confirmed that the assets of the corporation that owned Chicago Home Fitness were sold to The Great Escape retail operation (www.shopthegreatescape.com) owned by Mark Rush. As of mid-July, The Great Escape will continue to operate those 10 stores as stand-alone entities, using the Chicago Home Fitness brand name.

The Chicago Home Fitness store locations that remain open are: The Chicago store on Halstead; the Mundelein, Ill., store (though it moved across the street adjacent to The Great Escape location and we have been told the wall separating the two stores will likely be knocked down); the Orland Park, Ill., store; the Aurora, Ill., store; the Deerfield, Ill., store; the Geneva, Ill., store; the Schaumburg, Ill., store; the Wilmette, Ill., store; the Downers Grove, Ill., store; and the Merrillville, Ind., store.

Insiders tell us that the plan is for The Great Escape locations to create store-within-a-store concepts, fully stocked with brand name fitness equipment and staffed by experienced fitness experts.

“The Great Escape is retaining all our top sales talent. They have been with me for a long time and are the ones that made Chicago Home Fitness what it is, and Great Escape is lucky to have them,” Egbert told SNEWS.

With The Great Escape now as the new owner, Egbert said he expects good things for the area fitness sales and for the remaining 10 stores. He points out that Great Escape is a leading retailer of hot tubs, pools, patio furniture, playsets, grills, game tables and home theater seats, and as a result, far more eyeballs will see fitness product and have access to fitness experts year-round.

--Michael Hodgson

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