The market appears ripe for pool and spa retailers.
Pool stores — we’re talking about the brick-and-mortar type — are opening in rapid succession throughout the nation.
Take Leslie’s, for example. The Phoenix-based chain cut the ribbon on 22 stores last month and is preparing to open at least 20 more this year, bringing its total to more than 850 locations.
Also, Namco, an aboveground dealer with headquarters in Manchester, Conn., recently reopened 12 stores after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. That makes 19 stores the company operates in New England.
The trend isn’t limited to chains. Pool & Spa News received reports of stores opening all over the county, including New York, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada.
Performance Pool & Spa in Woodbury, Minn., recently debuted its sixth location, this one in an upscale shopping center. The temporary location in Minnetonka’s Ridgedale Center will give the firm an opportunity to reach a new market without committing to a long-term lease. The lease is good until mid-summer, at which point the roaming clearance center will find another vacancy to fill.
The outlet store provides ample space to display discounted hot tubs and is doing brisk business, after starting with 22 spas several weeks ago, said Brian Evers, retail manager.
“The thought was that it would take two or three months to clearance those out, but we’re already down to seven,” Evers said.
With the Twin Cities housing market on the rebound, Performance Pool & Spa is striking while the iron is hot. Within days of opening a shop in the mall, the company also acquired a pool store in St. Cloud, an hour northwest of its primary market.
“The home market is looking pretty darn good, so the pool market is really nice. Leads are way up. It’s been a nice year already,” Evers said.
Just as some shopkeepers are opening their second or third locations, some are becoming first-time store owners. After 1½ years servicing pools, Rick McKnight believed the time was right to make the leap into retail. The America’s Swimming Pool Co. franchisee opened a tidy little shop in a strip mall in Longview, Texas.
Coincidentally, Leslie’s moved in just down the road within days of his opening.
“They had a store in Longview four or five years ago,” McKnight said. “We were pretty certain they’d come back eventually.”