The way some see it, the Internet is a tool for retailers to use, not to shun. At least that’s the way At Home Fitness owners Bryan Dorksen and Greg Feeder said they feel about it.
The pair has been quick to adopt online selling in conjunction with their five fitness retail locations in Arizona (www.athomefitness.com), but got some heat from manufacturers in terms of their policies for online sales of equipment. To solve the problem, the At Home guys decided to create their own brand through a separate company they run with four other partners, giving rise to 3G Cardio. The line is in all five of their retail stores and can be found online at www.3GCardio.com.
The name comes from the original three partners – Feeder, Dorksen and Jeff Taksey. Dorksen said they were three generations of business partners hence the 3G.
“You want to pick a name that picks up a lot of search results online,” Dorksen said. “Something different, something that stands out.”
The writing on the wall
Two years ago, At Home Fitness had great success selling equipment online. But shortly after, many manufacturers started tightening their belts – requiring equipment be listed at full MSRP online and creating hurdles for At Home Fitness.
It became difficult for the At Home team to replicate that success selling other manufacturer’s products. They ventured into finding a undisclosed manufacturer to create their own house brand.
Plus, Dorksen said, an added benefit would be not losing business to department stores on the brands carried in both specialty retailers and stores like Sears. (Click here to see an Oct. 26, 2011 story about Sears creating fitness retail spaces.)
“We want to be in control what happens with our company,” Dorksen said. “Every time you turn around you’re competing against your own products.”
Six months ago, they introduced their line of vibration trainers under the 3G Cardio name into At Home’s five retail locations and online at both www.athomefitness.com and www.3Gcardio.com. The two trainers – AVT 5.0 (MSRP $3,599) and the AVT 6.0 (MSRP $4,499) – were the first in the line because of the popularity of vibration trainers at this point, Dorksen said.
“It was a no brainer,” he said. “My business partners and I were surprised by the finished quality and reception that we’re having from our customers in our stores.”
Dorksen declined to reveal specific financial details of the new venture, including the cost the six 3G Cardio paid to get the new line set up, but said, so far, they’ve seen a good return on their investment.
Plans for the future
Just because At Home Fitness has its own brand now doesn’t mean the company is going to stop carrying any other brands, Dorksen assured SNEWS.
“Absolutely, positively (the new line) will not replace anything,” Dorksen said. “We’ve instructed our guys to keep doing what they’re doing if one of our products is going to be the right choice, great. We don’t want to simply steer people to our brand because it’s our brand. We carry 36 different brands and we want to make our manufacturers are happy.”
And though 3G Cardio only has vibration trainers in the line-up, Dorksen and Feeder have already been hard at work rejecting samples that aren’t up to snuff for the treadmill line, which is up next. Eventually, the line will also include stationary bicycles and maybe ellipticals, depending on whether the At Home team can find the quality they’re looking for.
“There is no pressure for us to get things in to sell up a line just so we have something,” Dorksen said. “We’re going to be extremely selective and part on quality pricing, look, design, everything.”
The past two years navigating a rough economy haven’t been easy for At Home's owners or its staff, Dorksen said. The company has shifted around its store locations (click here to read a Dec. 16, 2011 SNEWS story on new fitness retail locations) to keep up with a fast-changing retail landscape in Arizona, along with debuting 3G Cardio. It’s been a long, learning experience and Dorksen said he’s still learning.
“I would estimate 500-700 hours of work just alone on my part learning how this works,” Dorksen said. There have been some mistakes and some successes, but Dorksen is extremely happy with the choice to start their own line.
Other retailers have expressed interest in carrying the 3G Cardio line, but Dorksen said the company will look at those requests on a case-by-case basis, not because they think the line is “too good” for people, rather because they want to partner with retailers who also see the Internet as a sales tool.