Trade Secrets of the Pro Shop

pro shop

When you get off a ride at Disney, you’ll find yourself sent straight through a gift shop.

Ted Dreaver, the owner of CrossFit Iron Legion in Ocala, Florida, said he stole this trade secret and implemented it in the Box. “The way our pro shop is built, you’ve got no way to come in to the gym other than to come through the pro shop,” he shared. “You’re signing in at the pro shop; you’re spending time there.”

Iron Legion’s shop sells everything a member could need. Partnering with Kinetik Collective, the company brought a wall display into the gym. Apparel, weight belts, wrist wraps and more are sold in Iron Legion’s space at no cost to Dreaver. Kinetik sells the products with a separate iPad system and Dreaver gets a small percentage of the profit. 

Aimee Lyons, the owner of CrossFit King of Prussia (KOP) in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, has done something similar and partnered with United Mettle. The company holds the inventory and takes care of the slate wall in the gym, keeping it stocked. It enables Lyons to sell a variety of products — jump ropes, tape, grips, King Kong bags, apparel, Kill Cliff, etc. – without having a ton of inventory on the backend taking up space and money.

Lyons likened having a well-stocked pro shop to the showers and locker rooms at KOP. “I don’t know how much they’re really used, I don’t feel like they’re used that much, but just that perception of having that there I think draws people and makes people feel like, ‘Hey, they have this here, they have this available if I need it,’” said Lyons.

On top of a wall run by an outside company, Dreaver also has The Brick and Iron Cafe. Fresh meals, smoothies and more are offered. But a bigger benefit of having the cafe is the fact it has brought the gym to a point of staffing the pro shop every hour the gym is open. “We’ve seen our profits go a lot higher,” said Dreaver.

Honor/courtesy systems have been a big thing in the industry, but Dreaver cautioned against it. “You think everybody is honest, but they’re not,” he shared. “You see a ton of product erosion, and if you’re that guy who’s buying that stuff with low profit margins and you’re doing this courtesy type thing, one or two products missing makes a huge hit.”

To that fact, Dreaver has steered away from investing in products with super low margins – which are often those sensationalized within the CrossFit industry. Instead, he’s asked his members what supplements they buy at places like GNC. Then he’ll reach out to the company and find out their wholesale options, as well as if he can get ahold of the product with a decent profit margin. “You want to give your members what’s healthy; you want to give them a great option for a great bargain,” he said. “If you don’t give it to them, they’re going to go get it from somewhere.”

During the process of bringing in supplements and products to sell, Dreaver mentioned demos are a must. It can generate interest in your membership and companies are often willing to do it. Plus, they know their product and can do a great job educating your members. In fact, Dreaver said they once sold 45 bags of protein in a single night from one of these demos. “You can see a really good result if you have somebody there who knows what they’re doing and knows how to talk and has a good product,” he said. 

Asking members what they want — whether it be water bottles, hats, etc. — is a great step. Lyons said pre-ordering can help avoid excess inventory in these special orders and when buying apparel. “Really listening to your members and what they want,” she said. “There are certain things as an Affiliate owner you’re like, ‘Who’s going to wear that or what in the world?’ And then you buy it and everyone is like, ‘This is the best thing ever.’” 

Ultimately, it’s letting people know what you have and when you have it. Advertising and believing in your products is essential. That moves inventory and benefits your members; and if that’s happening, your pro shop can become another revenue stream. “You can’t talk about your products enough,” said Dreaver. “You should be just as passionate about your products as you are about your training. Everything you’re doing for your CrossFit programming you need to be just as passionate. You need to be understandable and knowledgable about your nutrition and supplements you have in your shop and your apparel, too.”   

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.