As Toys “R” Us begins to shutter its doors at more than 800 of its locations, gym franchises are among the companies sizing up the space that is being abandoned.
Tom Shumaker, co-founder of GS Fitness Holding, who is set to open 20 Blink Fitness locations in the Midwest with NBA star Draymond Green, said the exit of Toys “R” Us is creating space in strip centers across the country.
“We’re looking anywhere that we think could support a business economically, and some of them are going to be strip centers where retailers like Toys “R” Us are moving out as well as CVS and Walgreens, which are consolidating their footprint,” Shumaker told FOX Business.
Todd Magazine, Blink’s president, added that the decline of other big-box retailers such as Sears and JCPenney is creating opportunities as the fitness chain begins to expand over the next five years to more than 300 locations.
“We have a big footprint, we have about 15,000 square feet, so we fit very well with a lot of the boxes that are becoming available,” Magazine told FOX Business, adding that he has had discussions with a lot of the retailers who are looking to sell their locations.
“We like to be in what is called the daily needs strip center, where people are coming in frequently so they don’t have to travel very far,” Magazine said.
Ben Midgley, CEO of Crunch Franchise, said that while the company isn’t tracking any retailer in particular, it does look “closely at any store” with a footprint larger than 20,000 feet, about the size of a typical Toys “R” Us or Sears location.
“We are seeing significant opportunity in malls where traditional retailers have struggled,” Midgley said. “This year, we could see up to 10% of new Crunch franchise locations in malls around the country.”
In fact, Midgley believes that when a gym moves into a struggling mall or strip center, it tends to attract new businesses such as health and nutrition stores or athletic clothing shops.