SNEWS Qs, Retailer Edition: James Sistare, Earl’s Cyclery and Fitness

James Sistare of Earl’s Cyclery and Fitness in South Burlington, Vt., is the focus of this week’s retailer SNEWS Qs.

James Sistare

Earl’s Cyclery and Fitness


What are some of the most popular items in your store on the fitness side?

By far it is Vision Fitness’ suspension elliptical. It’s a really popular, comfortable machine that has all the options you’d expect from a $2,300 elliptical.

Of all the new technology and equipment coming out, what are your favorite things and why?

I’d say the spin bikes because it’s interesting how they’re getting into measuring power output. A lot of our commercial high-end [bicycle] racers are liking this feature and it’s useful to them. They can utilize and see that power as they train. Having that power measurement is much more important than other things like heart rate. CycleOps brand has the most accurate power output measurement that we’ve seen.

What makes your shop different from other specialty fitness retailers?

We’re very service-oriented. For any product we sell, we set it up and have free delivery within Chittenden county. We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers. A lot of big box stores are selling people products in a box that they drop off, or they charge $200 for delivery. We do everything we can to make our customers' experience pleasant.

What’s your philosophy on customer service?

Just to make things as easy as possible for the customers, giving them a fair shake at trying out the equipment. A lot of times people will test the equipment for five minutes before buying it, but we encourage them to come out in workout clothes and spend 30 to 45 minutes to find out if the machine is going to work for you.

What do you think specialty fitness retailers need to do or change in order to survive in the future?

I think becoming aware of the conscious needs of customers is the most important part. So many times cheaper products that are part of a fad, that make for a fad type of purchase, but retailers need to stay focused on trends. Our industry is cyclical. Sometimes treadmills are hot and other times its ellipticals. If you miss a couple of months in the fitness industry, you might miss out on business. But just stay focused on the trends.

--Compiled by Ana Trujillo