The five best words in my Friday paper come from Anytime Fitness manager Genesis Freuan, who is moving her gym from the mall to downtown:
The new location is in the first floor of 321 S. Main St., at the corner of South Main Street and Fourth Avenue.
“It’s where everything is happening,” manager Genesis Fruean said of downtown. “It’s always nice to be centrally located, and that’s what we’ve been looking for for awhile” [emphasis mine; Katherine Grandstrand, “Anytime Fitness moving from Aberdeen Mall to Main Street,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.06.16].
Downtown—where everything is happening—darn right! Aberdeen has plenty of businesses sprawling out along the crowded East U.S. 12 corridor, which provides little if any safe and convenient access for pedestrians and bicyclists (and is kinda nuts for motorists). This central location will allow more gym users to leave the car at home and add nice outside warm-up and cool-down jogs (or rides, or rollerblades!) to their workouts.
Even the mall owners think this move is a win, because sweaters aren’t shoppers:
In the mall, Anytime Fitness is more of a destination for fitness buffs rather than a driver for commerce, said Beth Isaacson-Hoeft, who is in charge of leasing at Aberdeen Mall.
With Anytime Fitness leaving, the mall will have a chance to talk to retailers that require a little more space, she said. The spaces on either side of the gym are also available, and the possibility of combining them is an option [Grandstrand, 2016.06.16].
I dig what she’s saying. I work out outside, so when I’m browsing the mall, Anytime Fitness feels like just some blocked-off space, adding nothing to my mall experience. The gym doesn’t engage out-of-town shoppers and get them to drop more money in the mall’s and Aberdeen’s pocket. Replacing Anytime Fitness with more retail (a computer/tech shop? an international grocery? perhaps a nice men’s haberdashery?) will give more customers a reason to stop by.
Filling an empty spot downtown gives Anytime Fitness customers a more convenient destination while freeing up mall space for retail synergy. That’s a win-win situation.
Now, let’s get a sidewalk all the way to Target and Walmart and a pedestrian overpass at Lamont!