Dozens of suppliers and employees gathered at the new Fit3 store outside Washington, D.C., Nov. 11 to toast the grand opening of the more than 20,000-square-foot retailer dubbing itself the “largest fitness, health and wellness superstore in the U.S.”
“It’s great,” consultant Gordy Gronkowski, owner of G&G Fitness, told SNEWS® minutes before he was about to walk over to the evening party. “Just walking in the door there, it gives you the ‘wow’ feeling.”
With high ceilings in a sprawling former electronics warehouse space, Fit3 has created a stir since word first leaked out about its new approach to fitness and health retail based on the founders’ experience with interactive retail at Bass Pro Shops and Golf Town.
Gronkowski described nearly a mall-like interior with separate departments all staffed by their own specialists who would not cross-over to sell in other areas. For example, a yoga salesperson would not sell vitamins one minute, then yoga, then a treadmill.
“You get a professional in each area,” Gronkowski said.
The store includes a running track for trying out shoes, a vitamin store, a boxing ring and a yoga studio, for example, as well as about 5,000 square feet of dedicated fitness equipment space. Among fitness vendors, product is coming for example from Life Fitness, Horizon, BH Fitness, Gaiam and Everlast, while other suppliers include Nike, Brooks, Asics, TwinLab, Zobha and Prana.
“This store really looks absolutely gorgeous, like a retail store,” BH President Steve Wilkins told SNEWS minutes after walking in the doors for the first time. “It’s well-furnished.”
Although only officially opening its doors to the public Nov. 12 at 9 a.m., the morning after the party (click here to see its announcement on Facebook), founders are already looking for additional locations and funding to open more branches in the greater D.C. area, Gronkowski and a statement from Fit3 said.
The retail venture is the brainchild of retailer Jack Steckel who was co-founding partner of Golf Town with Stephen Bebis, as well as a member of the founding team of Hockey Life, based in Canada. The CEO is former Bass Pro President, Hal Smith, who has partnered with Steckel in the venture for which Gronkowski was hired as a fitness expert and consultant.
"FIT3 is more than a store," Steckel said in a statement. "It's a destination to explore, experiment and engage in a total fitness lifestyle. It's interactive and exciting and unlike any other retail experience out there."
“The ‘wow factor’ is that it looks so well-planned,” Wilkins said, assessing the interior with the sounds of a party and clinking glasses behind him. “It’s more than a fitness specialty store because it has everything. This looks more like a sporting goods store that’s fitness-focused.”