Precor moves Houston distributorship to Busy Body, HEST's future still unknown

Busy Body in Houston is now fully outfitted with and selling the complete Precor line of equipment, owner Stan Terry Jr. has confirmed. HEST Fitness ownership has not returned numerous calls and emails by SNEWS to confirm whether this indicates its stores will continue to be Precor dealers in its various remaining Texas markets, although Precor normally operates exclusively with its customers in their markets.
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Busy Body in Houston is now fully outfitted with and selling the complete Precor line of equipment, owner Stan Terry Jr. has confirmed.

With all the products "on the same team," Terry told SNEWS® his company has realigned its brand strategy to make the arrangement successful: His six Busy Body stores (www.busybodyhouston.com) will sell Precor with Landice, LeMond, Octane, Vision and Hoist, he explained, while his seven Fitness Unlimited stores (www.fitnessunlimited.net), also in the Houston area, will sell Life Fitness with True, Octane, LeMond indoor cycles, Vision and TuffStuff.

"As you can see, we are providing an identity to each brand of stores by giving them their own exclusive 'major' line," Terry wrote in an email. "Our advertising efforts will be to emphasize Life Fitness and Precor as the two best products in the industry.

"The rest of the vendors will benefit by being the 'other' option on the floor or by being a 'better' option on the floor," he further explained.

He said each manufacturer's reps will be responsible for training sales staff to better sell the products and, in turn, each salesperson will need to sell the products represented by his or her store.

HEST Fitness ownership has not returned numerous calls and emails by SNEWS to confirm whether this indicates its stores will continue to be Precor dealers in its various remaining Texas markets, although Precor normally operates exclusively with its customers in their markets. As of June 22, Precor.com in the Houston area lists both Busy Body and the two remaining Hest stores. HEST's website (www.hestfitness.com) also continues to list and show Precor product as does its sister retailer opened last year Texas Home Fitness and, in the Northeast, Precor Home Fitness, all operated by The Fitness Group (www.thefitnessgroup.com).

With Precor now with another Houston retailer after being a long-time HEST supplier, its future in the remaining HEST and Texas Home stores and in the state of Texas remains in question, as does the next step for The Fitness Group's operation of its stores.

HEST's warehouse in Houston has been shut, and it is now down to two stores each in Houston and Dallas (Click here to read a May 6, 2009, SNEWS story, "What's going on at The Fitness Group? Sudden store closures leave industry wary, wondering."). Without a warehouse, it is unclear how it will properly supply the remaining stores. Its stores in other Texas cities -- most of which are original HEST stores when the retail company was owned by Albert and Paula Kessler -- remain strongly settled in those markets, SNEWS has been told. Those cities include Austin, Corpus Christi, McAllen and San Antonio.



In the Dallas market, Precor.com lists one HEST store and one Texas Home store. In the Northeastern market of Precor Home Fitness, Precor.com does not list the two stores in Massachusetts under one of their zip codes, but does list them both, along with two other retailers, under another, although the corporate site also adds a note to call Precor at its 800 number for the Newton, Mass., area also. In New Jersey, although Precor.com lists the Precor Home Fitness store, it has a Precor 877 toll-free number and several additional listings to call the corporate office.

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Meanwhile, the Precor Home Fitness stores remain open although SNEWS sources reported that a large percentage of the floor space in at least one of the Massachusetts stores was occupied as late as May by swing sets and playground equipment from Creative Playthings (see photo to right), which lists the stores on its website under its retailer locator. The Creative Playthings website lists one Precor Home store in its dealer locator, as well as several of the HEST stores in Texas.

--Therese Iknoian

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