Once the Busy Body Home Fitness chain dissolved nearly 10 months after its parent Fitness Holdings International declared bankruptcy, one large market left more barren than others was California.
With glimmers of hope on the economic horizon, the scramble for leases is heating up, and retail infill is happening.
In Northern California, the Fitness Outlet opened Sept. 5 in the former Busy Body location in Roseville, Calif., a growing suburb east of Sacramento. Co-owner Joey Abramson told SNEWS he signed the lease on the prime location Aug. 31. It was still stocked with a variety of leftover equipment, which he purchased from Jeff Partrick, Hoist CEO, who purchased all the Busy Body assets in a court auction Aug. 11, 2009. (Click here to see an Aug. 12, 2009, SNEWS story, "The Gym Store LLC highest bidder for FHI/Busy Body assets, plans 8-10 SoCal stores.")
"It's turnkey," Abramson told SNEWS. "You have a store. You can literally open the door today.
"It's a great store. You drive into the complex and drive right toward the store," he added. "This is exciting."
The addition takes Fitness Outlet (www.thefitnessoutlet.com) back to where it was in early 2008 with six stores -- four in the Seattle area and two in the Sacramento area.
BodyWorks Home Fitness (formerly OC BodyWorks)
Charles Hoffman, owner of BodyWorks Home Fitness (formerly named OC BodyWorks) in Yorba Linda, Calif., south of Los Angeles, will expand from two stores (a second is in Chino Hills) to four stores since acquiring the leases on the former Huntington Beach Busy Body store as well as the former Nellie's store in Corona. David Delgadillo's Nellie's declared bankruptcy in late June and shut down after 32 years in business. (Click here to see that July 8, 2009, SNEWS story, "Nellie's files Ch. 7 as the economy continues to wreak havoc.")
In addition, Greg Ruffer, former director of retail operations for LA Gym Equipment, a company that was acquired by Busy Body in August 2005, has come aboard to be the director of retail for BodyWorks Home Fitness (www.ocbodyworks.com).
"I'm really happy to be back in the retail game," he told SNEWS. "The product doesn't make the company, the people make the company."
He told SNEWS that the Corona store, where he will be based, and the Huntington Beach store would officially open Oct. 1.
So far, vendors include True, Inspire, TuffStuff, Vision, Landice, Vectra and Torque, he said.
In other Northern California areas, Scott Egbert had taken over leases of former Busy Body locations in Walnut Creek and San Mateo, purchasing those assets from Partrick. Click here to see an Aug. 19, 2009, SNEWS story, "It's a done deal: The Gym Store owns Busy Body assets, re-opens SoCal stores; NorCal separate operation."
SNEWS® View: It, of course, wasn't going to be long before smart retail operators took on some leases in areas left dry, just as manufacturers looking for distribution worked with them to lock up certain regions. The influx will continue, mark our words.