Ilan Katz shuts Miami store after three months

Three months after opening a small specialty fitness shop in North Miami, former Fitness Headquarters vice president, Ilan Katz, has said he will shutter the store, move back to Texas, and go back to his former position at Fitness HQ.
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Three months after opening a small specialty fitness shop in North Miami, former Fitness Headquarters vice president, Ilan Katz, has said he will shutter the store, move back to Texas, and go back to his former position at Fitness HQ.

He left Fitness HQ last fall to fulfill a dream of owning his own retail operation, which became Exercise Solutions in North Miami (see SNEWS story, Feb. 2, 2004).

"I had an itch, and it was something I had to do," he told SNEWS® about his decision. "It was something I had to try. I did it, and it didn't work out the way I wanted it to work out.

"Success is a relative term," he said about his decision. "I could have stayed here and had a small success. But I didn't open my own company just to say I opened my own company and to say I have total employees of Â… three.

"I am closing the store because I felt as if I was going to always have a marginal company," he continued. "It would continue to exist in its mom-and-pop fashion."

He said that Florida is a tough market, and one he admitted he didn't know well enough. His wife's family spends part of the year there and, with a toddler that turns two this week, they thought it would also allow them to see her family more. Now, a second child is on the way, due in October, and being responsible for a family of four made him think over the move as well as where he felt most comfortable raising them.

About whispers and emails that began to circulate a couple of weeks ago about his entry into the Florida market and rumored quick exit, Katz said he did what he needed to do and is now also doing what he needs to do.

In typical Katz fashion, he won't waste any time. He will finish shutting down the store, pack up his family and hop a plane on May 7 to head back to Dallas where he said he's ready to jump back in and where he feels he can do his suppliers even more good as a part of a larger operation. At the short-lived Exercise Solutions, he carried Landice, SportsArt America, Body-Solid, Life Span, LeMond Fitness and Spri.

"I feel no shame. I feel no regret. I feel no remorse," he said. "You take a licking and you keep on ticking."

SNEWS® View: It's a pity, really since Katz had some wonderful ideas about what he wanted to do with the store and its service. Already his website was refreshing with cooler tones, softer lines and a lot of images of women, since he recognized they had a lot of influence on purchases. (If you get a chance before it comes down, go to www.exercisesolutions.net.) But with Busy Body/Gyms to Go, Gym Source and Precision Fitness pretty dominant and smaller players picking up the pieces in other areas, there weren't likely a lot of the brand names left that can help drive customers to a store. What that means is that indeed smaller players may soon not be able to make it if the largest companies, such as Life Fitness and Nautilus, have the impact they do on customer choices only because the companies' websites help get them to a store, whether they buy that brand or not. Either way, Katz will take his energy back to Fitness HQ as it gets ready to open its 10th store.

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