Creative Playthings plans to continue fitness retail on own -- in the fall

Creative Playthings may be out of the fitness equipment business now -- but that won’t last long, the company CEO told SNEWS. What are his plans?
Author:
Updated:
Original:

After the ballyhooed partnership between swing-set specialist Creative Playthings and Mike Connolly’s The Fitness Store collapsed months into the 2009 launch, the Creative Playthings CEO has told SNEWS he will still push ahead with fitness retail later in the year on his own.

“We have been struggling for that counter-seasonal opportunity,” CEO Don Hoffman said, “and fitness just feels right.”

The short-lived alliance between Hoffman’s high-end wooden swing-set company (www.creativeplaythings.com) and Connolly’s newly founded Creative Fitness retail business was promoted in late December 2009 even as it was shutting down. (Click here to see a Dec. 30, 2009, press release, “New Family Focused Fitness Partnership Brings Home Fun and Fitness for Every Age.”)

In September 2009, when both Hoffman and Connolly discussed the venture with SNEWS, both were exuberant about the counter-seasonal products, how they would complement each other and how the products would share retail space in Creative Playthings stores. The swing sets would also share retail space in Connolly’s five now-defunct Precor Home Fitness stores, which he had said would eventually change their names to The Fitness Store. (Click here to see a Sept. 14, 2009, SNEWS story, “Mike Connolly's The Fitness Store joins with Creative Playthings in new take on East Coast retail.”) For that story, Connolly said it was the “perfect opportunity to go from childhood fitness to adult fitness,” and Hoffman called it a “tremendous synergy.”

The model of side-by-side fitness and swings was to launch in 18 Creative Playthings stores in seven eastern states.

Hoffman told SNEWS the relationship with Connolly’s company changed when certain matters weren’t progressing as he had expected. He declined additional comment. At that time, the decision was made not to move forward, he said. In addition, Hoffman said Connolly took back all of the remaining fitness equipment inventory -- remaining floor models from 18 stores. (Click here to see a Jan. 18, 2010, story, “Questions, few answers, in shuttering of The Fitness Group’s retail holdings nationwide.”)

Connolly did not return several phone calls for this story inquiring about the inventory or his retail plans. In March, however, he did tell SNEWS that he couldn’t comment about the status of the Creative Playthings partnership. Until early March, the store locator at The Fitness Store’s previous website (www.thefitnessstore.us) had listed all of the Creative Playthings stores. Now that website is shut down, but the new website (www.thefitnessstoreusa.com) is live and contains a note that the store list was being revised.

Meanwhile, several other specialty fitness retailers, including Joe Gulino’s new Xtreme Fitness Equipment (www.xtremefitnessequip.com) in Newton, Mass., are carrying the swing sets.

As Hoffman prepares for his entry into fitness, he said his stores in general are seeing a little economic light; April has started well and is one the company’s higher-revenue months for its high season that runs about March to July. That’s why he is still bullish on fitness, he said, since the fitness selling season is directly the opposite or about December to February.

Hoffman said he is talking to fitness suppliers now but is not locked into any one. He noted he would buy the inventory directly rather than working in another partnership, adding that he would likely look at putting fitness equipment into about 10 stores. He emphasized that he would not simply be “a swing set store with treadmills” but would truly service both avenues of merchandise.

“I’m optimistic,” he said, “about the options for the future.”

--Therese Iknoian

Related

TheFitnessStoreLogoAug2609.jpg

Mike Connolly's The Fitness Store joins with Creative Playthings in new take on East Coast retail

A new fitness retail venture called The Fitness Store has been quietly brewing in the East and is set to debut in October. Spearheaded by Mike Connolly -- who had led The Fitness Group's move into Precor Home Fitness stores in the mid-Atlantic along with the changes at HEST and ...read more

Moving-Shaking09sm.jpg

Fitness: Movin’ & Shakin’ – New FitBiz rankings chart to download; plus Fitco, Workout World, Creative Playthings, Fitness Master and more…

Got any news or tips about somebody, some product or some company doing some moving or shaking? Let us know so we can slip it into our occasional Movin' & Shakin' updates. Just email snewsbox@snewsnet.com. Fitbiz by SNEWS In the 2011 edition of FitBiz by SNEWS, American Home ...read more

TreadmillDocLogo.jpg

Treadmill Doctor launches specialty fitness extended service plan program

Sensing a missing link in customer service as well as in possible income for specialty retailers, Treadmill Doctor is launching an extended service plan program to be sold with equipment at retail. “Service plans in the fitness industry are huge business. They’re a great source ...read more

3GFitness.png

Retailer At Home Fitness launches own product line to help boost online sales

The way some see it, the Internet is a tool for retailers to use, not to shun. At least that’s the way At Home Fitness owners Bryan Dorksen and Greg Feeder said they feel about it. The pair has been quick to adopt online selling in conjunction with their five fitness retail ...read more

Nautilus shuns booth at HFB show, plans own event

Nautilus has declined to participate as an exhibitor at the Health & Fitness Business show in August, opting inside to run a pre-show dealer event while planning its own mini-show in 2006. That means it will be one of the only major retail suppliers not represented in some way ...read more

Did you hear?...New Eddie Bauer CEO plans a return to retailer's roots

Since taking the helm of Eddie Bauer Holdings on July 9, CEO Neil Fiske told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in a recent article that he has set his sights on returning the retailer to its roots of appealing to men to break free of the decade-long malaise that has driven away ...read more

ColHomeFitness.jpg

New retail venture Colorado Home Fitness in planning stages, to open doors June 1

Nearly five years after exiting the specialty retail business in Colorado, Chip Hunnings is poised to step back in with a new venture called Colorado Home Fitness. Hunnings, who confirmed to SNEWS® his lease as of April 1 of a former Busy Body Home Fitness site in Englewood, ...read more

Forzani plans dozens of Fitness Source franchises with new retail/training concept

Originally discussed with SNEWS® 20 months ago, Forzani is now set to go forward with a concept for its specialty fitness stores, Fitness Source, which will include larger formats, a retail and personal training element and, eventually, several dozen stores across Canada. Tom ...read more

REI continues to announce expansion plans

REI announced plans to open a store front in the open-air Derby Street Shoppes shopping mall off Route 3 in Hingham, Mass. The store is scheduled for a fall 2003 opening. This will be REI's fourth store in the Massachusetts area. The 22,500-square-foot new construction store ...read more