Some people might say the fitness industry is still suffering a little bit after the downturn in the economy, but the head honchos at Spartan Fitness based in Canada don’t agree.
In fact, business is so good for the company that within these past months it has been in the works to open four new stores to serve Canada’s Toronto area. Two of them are open, the third opens this coming weekend and the fourth will open in December with plans for a grand opening celebration after the New Year.
“We’re not particularly nervous,” said Dave Neziol, area manager for Spartan Fitness’ Greater Toronto area, about such a big expansion in a short period of time. “We have great people and great products it’s just a matter of getting people in the door.”
Plus, Neziol said, the company is opening the new stores right in the industry’s busy season, rather than during the slower months. It was always the plan to open a few new stores, Neziol said, but the plan was sped up when a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” came up to fill the gap left by the closing of Fitness Source locations after big-box retailer Canadian Tire purchased Forzani and had no interest in the specialty side of the business.
“As soon as it was made public that Canadian Tire would be closing Fitness Source, Chris Cluett (chief operating officer) thought it was a great idea to expand into the Toronto area,” Neziol said, adding that it will be a new market for the company.
Neziol acknowledged opening four stores was a big undertaking but he said the company didn’t want to lose the momentum that was already there from Fitness Source.
“Three stores we moved into had been fitness stores for a long time,” Neziol said. “They’d been marketing those stores at fitness stores so people know already to go there for fitness equipment.”
Plus, he said, they had to move fast if they wanted to forge new partnerships with manufacturers such as Life Fitness, Vision Fitness and Hoist.
Neziol said the company has hired a total of 12 people, including the former managers of the Fitness Source stores, and some members of the former Fitness Source staff.
“We’ve really got some exceptional people on board,” Neziol said, adding that the company plans to hire a few more part-timers soon to add to the staff at the newly remodeled stores.
The company will continue all the initiatives it had already established at its existing five locations, including light commercial and vertical sales, which is especially good for business since home retail tends to be seasonal, Neziol said. Plus the company will continue to sell its outdoor fitness unit called Outdoor Fit Helios. Company Owner John Lewis designed the unit and Spartan sells it both directly to consumers and also to dealers.
Neziol has confidence business will be good in the four new locations, which are in Oakville, Mississauga and Newmarket, Ontario. The fourth location, in Vaughn, Ontario, is the one that will open Dec. 1.
“Really Chris Cluett and John Lewis, who is the owner, they’re the ones who really spearheaded this,” Neziol said. “They do believe that the industry is in good shape and everything runs on a cycle and we’re starting to see business pick up again excited about the new opportunity.”