Fitness retailer Fit3, which had billed itself as “America's largest fitness, health and wellness superstore,” has closed its single store in the Washington, D.C., area after only eight months in business, and four months after it signaled intentions to open a second store.
The 20,000-square-foot store (photo, right) in Vienna, Va., was to shut its doors July 23, 2011, according to a sales clerk reached by SNEWS, after liquidating its inventory.
Fit3 CEO Hal Smith declined comment when reached by SNEWS on his cell phone, deferring comments to store consultant Gordy Gronkowski, who could not be reached as of July 22. Fit3’s director Jack Steckel also could not be reached for comment.
Suppliers to the store (www.myfit3.com) told SNEWS they are still owed payments by Fit3, and communication had been sparse throughout the past few months. On July 1, they received an email from Fit3 indicating that a store closing was likely and requesting invoice information and promise of future contact on payments.
Suppliers to Fit3, according to the company, included Life Fitness, Horizon, BH Fitness, Gaiam, Everlast, Nike, Brooks, Asics, TwinLab, Zobha and Prana.
“We hadn’t been paid for anything this year,” said Alan Gore, co-owner of fitness equipment brand BodyCraft. Gore said he has yet to receive payment. “I thought it was strange, because we kept getting put off, even though they announced plans for a second store.”
On March 28, Fit3 announced that it had signed a letter of intent to open a second store in the Washington, D.C., area by fall 2011, "based on the success” of its first store.
“The tremendous customer response to our first DC location has caused us to move our expansion plans ahead faster than we had anticipated, and this second location is only the first of an additional five locations that we believe Fit3 can open in the greater Washington market,” CEO Hal Smith in the statement.
Fit3 opened its first store Nov. 11, 2010. It was a superstore with about 5,000 square feet dedicated to fitness equipment – including treadmills, vibration equipment, stationary bikes and weights – plus sections for running, yoga, martial arts, boxing, clothing, footwear, vitamins and nutrition. A specialist salesperson was assigned to each area to provide expertise to customers.
The retail venture was the brainchild of retailer Jack Steckel who was co-founding partner of Golf Town with Stephen Bebis, as well as a member of the founding team of Hockey Life, based in Canada. The CEO is former Bass Pro President, Hal Smith, who has partnered with Steckel in the venture for which Gronkowski was hired as a fitness expert and consultant. At the grand opening party Nov. 11, 2010, suppliers attending raved to SNEWS about how well planned, nicely laid out and gorgeous the store was.
Before closing its doors July 23, the company advertised a sale (photo, above left) with products 50- to 70-percent off and "nothing held back."
-- David Clucas