It’s a done deal: The Gym Store owns Busy Body assets, re-opens SoCal stores; NorCal separate operation

The last vestiges of the former Busy Body Home Fitness company as it was run by Fitness Holdings International have been sold to The Gym Store LLC. The Gym Store is a company fueled by a group of private investors lead by Jeff Partrick, majority investor and the CEO of Hoist Fitness. “The transaction was consummated,” Partrick told SNEWS®. “It’s a done deal.”
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The last vestiges of the former Busy Body Home Fitness company as it was run by Fitness Holdings International have been sold to The Gym Store LLC.

The Gym Store is a company fueled by a group of private investors lead by Jeff Partrick, majority investor and the CEO of Hoist Fitness.

“The transaction was consummated,” Partrick told SNEWS®. “It’s a done deal.”

Southern California: The Gym Store LLC

In a court auction on Aug. 11, 2009, Partrick placed the highest bid of $550,000 for the remaining assets of the Busy Body stores owned by FHI, beating out a group led by Brandon Sugimoto, who was director of financial analysis for FHI. Sugimoto bid independently, but SNEWS sources said Sugimoto sat in the court hearing with former FHI President/COO Kenton Van Harten and former Busy Body retail manager Blair Gannam. Sugimoto’s final bid was $545,000, and a final bid by third bidder using the name Green Giraffe was $515,000. Click here to read an Aug. 12, 2009, SNEWS story about the auction and sale. 

Sugimoto had entered an opening bid proposal of $200,000 with the court on July 29, 2009, in the ongoing bankruptcy reorganization case filed by FHI on Oct. 20, 2008. Click here to see a July 31, 2009, SNEWS story, “FHI employee is proposed buyer for Busy Body assets: $200,000 offer, with bidding open.” He did not return a call from SNEWS seeking comment.

The agreement closing the deal was executed quickly, with all parties signing on Aug. 14 or three days after the auction, Partrick said. The 13 remaining Southern California stores were closed on Friday, and the seven that will remain open swung their doors open again on Aug. 18, he said.

Those seven Southern California stores, which will retain the Busy Body name, include Westlake Village, West Hollywood, Encinitas, Pasadena, West Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks and Laguna Niguel. Ironically, they do not include the Balboa store in San Diego, which had been a Fitness Warehouse store, which was acquired by FHI from owners Partrick and his co-owners at Hoist. The new retail group immediately becomes eight stores with the addition of Dave Silva’s OC Gym Equipment in Newport Beach, Calif., which the former Busy Body manager opened in November 2008. Silva is the new company’s director of retail operations and his store will be incorporated into The Gym Store’s business. Closed were Busy Body’s Newport Beach location, as well as Balboa Park, Huntington Beach, Torrance and Santa Barbara.

Northern California: Bill Byrne and Scott Egbert

In addition to the Southern California stores, there were eight remaining in Northern California and one in Alaska. Assets from seven of the Northern California stores were acquired from Partrick by retail operator Scott Egbert and Bill Byrne, the current commercial division managing partner in the Seattle, Wash., area.

The Anchorage store will immediately fall under the auspices of Egbert’s Precor Home Fitness business based in the Seattle area and will change names to Precor Home Fitness. The seven Northern California stores will be run by Byrne as the majority managing partner, Egbert told SNEWS. A name change is also expected after a transition, with the exact name still to be determined, he said.

All the Northern California stores are closed this week, Egbert said. The company will re-start its operation this weekend with just two of the seven stores -- San Mateo on the peninsula south of San Francisco and Walnut Creek in the Bay Area east of San Francisco. Both will for now serve the entire region. Stores that will be closed include Dublin, Oakland, San Jose, San Rafael and Rohnert Park, but Egbert said there is a future for more in the area.

“We want to be smart,” he said. “With the economy what it is, nobody knows what will happen in the selling season this year. We want to be conservative.

“There are plenty of opportunities to add stores,” he said. “We’ll take the time to evaluate this. We can see this being five or six stores, but there’s no reason to rush into it.”

Partrick said he is discussing a sale of the assets of the eighth store in Roseville to another business.

In other business…

A hearing on the Busy Body bankruptcy case is now set for Sept. 2, 2009. Also ongoing is a case filed by the unsecured creditors that charges FHI with breach of duties and fraud. Click here to see an Aug. 5, 2009, SNEWS update on that suit, “FHI creditors express concerns over proposed sale to insider; FHI’s bank moves to dismiss creditors countersuit.” 

As the FHI retail business came to an end from its height of 114 Busy Body and Omni stores in the Eastern and Western United States, both Egbert and Partrick had nothing but kind words about the employees.

“Whatever situation the company was in,” Partrick added, “was not a matter of not having good people.”

--Therese Iknoian

SNEWS® View: We expect there will be a lot of changes, growth, hiring and building relationships in the coming months, although much of the growth will depend on how and when the economy turns around. Meanwhile, stay tuned for a story about all the retail specialty businesses bought by FHI during its reign and are also now gone. If you used to be involved with any of those businesses or have any stories or reminiscences to share, please email snewsbox@snewsnet.com. Or take a moment to share your comments with the industry on the second demise of the national chain called Busy Body by clicking on the Chat, below. Want to see stories about the first demise in 2001? Click here to read one Oct. 29, 2001, SNEWS story, “Busy Body no more.” Seems like deja vu -- eight years later.

--SNEWS® Editors

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