Congratulations - you own a gym! And you've likely got quite a few members contributing to your bottom line through memberships, group exercise classes, and personal training. But you want to do everything you can to stay in the black and now you're thinking about the next big step - retail.

But does retail actually contribute to your bottom line in a meaningful way? "It does," said Tina Pelle, corporate administrator for Metro Fitness in Central Ohio. "But really, it's a convenience factor."

Pelle said that while retail can help bolster your bottom line, the real impact is to your members, by providing them a service when they've forgotten something. (Learn more about Metro Fitness' approach to retailing.)

"If they're coming in for a lunch workout and going back to the office and didn't want to go get something to eat, they can grab a drink or a bar and there you go, it's lunch," she said. 

Retail can help you grow membership by making your gym a comfortable, convenient place that has all the amenities of home, which in turn, can impact your financials. 

It's clear to see that retailing can boost your club's bottom line in a meaningful way. But, you may have a lot more questions than answers on how to get started and make money selling power bars, earbuds and more. ELIVATE developed this paper chock-full of tips and techniques to help you: 

Cover all your financial bases before jumping into retail 
Get started in retailing 
Select the perfect products that sell and 
Drive sales with special events

Cover All Your Financial Bases Before Jumping Into Retail
Retailing in your gym should be a rewarding experience for you and your clientele. As mentioned above, it's a convenience for members, and it's a boom for your bottom line. But, before you go jumping into the deep end, there are a few important financial aspects you should cross off your to-do list:

1. Make sure you've got all the proper paperwork filed. Have your checklist handy? You can't order goods from a distributor for resale without an EIN also known as a tax ID, issued by the IRS. You may also need a business license and a resale certificate - the latter of which allows you to buy tax-exempt items from manufacturers and distributors. Lastly, health or zoning permits vary across the country so you may want to call your state or local government agencies just to be sure. See, that's not so bad!

2. Where are you putting all that stuff? You'll need to have a good idea where you plan to store your inventory and how safe it will be. If you have space on-site, great! But if not, ELIVATE can help with inventory control. Contact an ELIVATE sales representative at 800.537.5512 or send us an email to learn more.

3. Taxes are inevitable. How your business is structured, whether it's an LLC, etc., will determine how you file your taxes. But inside your store, do you know how much sales tax to charge? How to collect it and how to pay it back to the government? Talk with your tax advisor and make sure you're set up for success.

4. Have set polices. What will you do when a customer tries to return or exchange a product? Establish your policies before putting any merchandise on the floor.

5. Watch out for sticky fingers. Shoplifting of retail goods is a concern for any business owner. So how do you prevent it? There are a couple things you can do: Don't keep items near the door and lock up expensive items, such as heart rate monitors and activity trackers, in display cases.

6. Hardware and software. It's important for you to track retail money that's coming and going. There are several POS (Point of Sale) systems available to you. You can learn more about choosing a good POS system here: You can also look at simple methods like setting up an Apple Retail Store on your iPad.

7. Display it. So you get everything you need, including inventory, and you're ready to go. Now, where to put it? You'll want to make sure you have attractive racks, shelves, and packaging for the optimal in-store experience.

8. Make a profit. When ordering products, keep price in mind. Order products that are in a comfortable price point for your clients, while making a little profit for yourself, too. This will help you keep a healthy bottom line.

Get Started in Retailing
Once you cross off your to-do list the important financial aspects listed above, you’ll be eager to jump in and get started retailing. Here are the top 10 tips to help you make your fitness center a retail-friendly space.

1. Get them coming or going. The lobby is a great place to display your retail items. From smoothie stations to logoed T-shirts, your best bet is to set up shop near the entrance to your facility.

2. Don't forget the cash register... and the rest of your gym! Your busy 9-to-5er just walked in frustrated because they forgot to pack headphones. No worries - you've stocked the sign-in area with plenty of them! A yoga attendee doesn't have a mat? You're covered because you have some for sale in each class. Get creative about where you sell; and make it convenient and relevant for your members. 

3. Consider vending. A health and wellness vending machine offers you a shot at a high mark-up that will have a direct impact on your bottom line. Not to mention, a vending machine stocked with water, protein packs such as Fuel for Fire and protein bars, is a huge convenience for your clientele. 

4. Don't just sell clothes. T-shirts and workout pants are always a given for your retail line. But if you really want to impress your clients, try offering clothing that's designed to improve their functionality during a workout, like Intelliskin. Don't have display space? There's no better way to show off the product than actually wearing it yourself. 

5. Think about your classes. If you're a studio heavy on yoga and Pilates, having mats available is a key retail item. Another surefire sell? Weight lifting gloves. Bonus: No extra promotional space required. 

6. Always be selling. Your clients want results, and they're looking to you to help them find the best products to help them reach their goals. Supplements and vitamins are a retail item no gym or trainer can go without. 

7. Help them know their health. Your clients are paying for their good health - now help them understand what that means! A heart rate monitor or pedometer is an excellent retail item to get your members to the next level. 

8. Promote, promote, promote. A poster in the locker room tempting them to try a tasty post-workout protein bar or protein shake from the lobby is a great way to promote your retail products. So is promoting weight lifting gloves in the free weight area and earbuds by the treadmills. 

9. Understand the costs. Make sure you run a cost analysis on the retail items you're selling. Double check the price points of your retail items are earning you a profit. If not, time to consider upping your price. 

10. Get to know the products. It is easy to sell products you understand and believe in! Take the time to learn about the products you are selling and train your staff so they, too, are familiar with the products being sold.

Select the Perfect Products that Sell Now that you have some tips to start your retail-friendly space, it's time to choose the perfect products to add to your retail line. But with so many options, the selection can be time consuming and sometimes impossible. So, we've broken through the clutter by handpicking and testing the top retail products to make selecting a little easier. 

Top Retail Products:
Intelliskin Posture Correction Clothing
Fuel for Fire
Polar Loop & Heart Rate Monitors
Lifting Gloves, Belts & Straps
Yoga & Exercise Mats
The Stick
Vitamins & Supplements like Klean Athlete
Foam Rollers

Drive Sales with Special Events
You have all the financial bases covered; you know the top products to retail and where to display them and much more! Now, let's take a look at some ideas to drive retail sales at your gym. 

Driving sales at your gym sometimes takes a little more interaction and thoughtfulness than just having power bars at the register or water in the vending machine. Driving sales takes true interaction with the customer and giving them a quality member experience. 

"It's important for us to know everybody's name," said Jill Doge, Group Fitness Director for seven Metro Fitness locations in Central Ohio. "We're a small town gym. It's more of a family feeling." That family feeling helps drive sales through group, creative programming. "If someone isn't there that night, everyone is calling to make sure they're OK," said Doge.

At Metro Fitness, specialized groups bring in more memberships by meeting specific needs of various fitness populations. Another way to do something similar is by bringing like-minded weight loss groups together with supplement meetings. 

One facility held nutritional group education meetings within the location, offering both the gym as a membership facility, and selling the nutritional supplements. The activity was a hit, providing both product and an educational opportunity in one shot. Other event opportunities for moving retail include: 

1. FIT Happy Hours. What better way to move retail than to have a happy hour at your smoothie bar? Make it a social event with a Foursquare check-in discount on supplements and auctioning off a trainer for a free session. Instantly amp up your efforts by partnering with a local office, group or media organization by adding a pre-happy hour workout beforehand. 

2. Monthly Membership Challenges. The key to pushing retail in a membership challenge month is to organize the challenge around a product you want to sell. If you want to sell yoga mats, have a "Master this Yoga Move" challenge. If it's a pedometer you want to sell, have a "How Many Steps Can You Walk in a Month" challenge. 

3. Tweet it! Your clients and members are your biggest fans and advocates. Create a hashtag for your members to use while they're working out. Ask them to shoot a selfie of themselves in their favorite gear and post with the hashtag. You can enter everyone into a monthly drawing and give away a prize.

While this paper has provided a lot of tips and techniques to make retailing a successful revenue strategy for your fitness center, you may want additional information. ELIVATE can help whether you need further advice on choosing the best merchandise to retail or storing, displaying or pricing your inventory, call us today at 800.537.5512 or send us an email. 

About ELIVATE ELIVATE is a private, family-owned American supplier of fitness, health and wellness products and product knowledge. We understand that healthy living is more than a lifestyle choice. It's a commitment. We're committed to offering fitness professionals the biggest selection, hottest brands, the newest products, the fastest shipping, and the most helpful and knowledgeable customer service, all at the most competitive prices, so that you can offer more to your clients, rather than simply more of the same.