Ed Conklin, owner
What are some of the most popular items in your store?
I’m not just a fitness store, I’m also a sporting goods store, but on the fitness side, anything in the cardio world – whether it be treadmills, ellipticals and recumbent bikes – are our more popular items. Also popular are items on the accessory side of things: kettle bells, resistance bands, medicine balls and core training items. I just think the times have changed a little bit and the day of selling $2,000 home gyms is not like it used to be. We still do sell them but people are finding more economical ways to get their workout.
Of all the new technology and equipment coming out, what are your favorite things and why?
Elliptical trainers, simply because of the low-impact nature of them. Also the Garmin and heart-rate GPS-tracking type devices that can help people keep track of workout data and help them reach their goals in more effective ways.
What makes your shop different from other specialty fitness retailers?
Again, I don’t really classify myself as a specialty fitness retailer, but the unique thing we do is the buying and selling of new and used equipment. In today’s environment, people are conscious of what they spend. I just had a lady in 30 minutes ago who found herself a Water Rower, which normally goes for 1,000 bucks new, a gently used Water Rower that she picked up for 500 bucks. There is so much gently used equipment out there because people buy things with good intentions, but unfortunately don’t always carry through with things. I can sell quality pieces of used equipment for fraction of the price they go for new.
What’s your philosophy on customer service?
I’m in a pretty competitive environment here. Directly across the street I have two big box sporting goods, Dicks Sporting Goods and Academy, and what sets me apart from them is the used equipment. I think a lot of people these days, some not all, like to try to support the local small businesses that are independently owned and operated. I definitely get some play from the folks that look for that.
Plus, the personal one-on-one attention I offer you don’t get at big box retailer. They have everything under the sun under one roof, but you better know what you’re looking for when you get there. Also, I don’t outsource anything I do from delivery and installation to service. As the owner, I do delivery and I do service calls. What I have found in my experience with other companies I’ve worked for in this industry is when you outsource services, they don’t provide the type of service you would because their reputation is not at stake.
What do you think specialty fitness retailers need to do or change in order to survive in the future? Diversify. Again, I think what is really helped me is identifying slower moving product and really diversify with accessories. Fitness is 60 percent of what I do here, but I also have baseball or softball things, hockey, tennis and lacrosse. Sure, I do have seasons, but for the most part I don’t see spikes and valleys in my business. For the most part my volume remains pretty constant over a 12-month period [with] so many different categories to fall back on. The key is diversifying your product.
--Compiled by Ana Trujillo