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Gym with Roped Climbs in small markets? Viable?


Original Post
Eric LaRoche · · Keene, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 25

Not sure this is the best locations for this but what the heck.

I live in a gym dead zone. The closest climbing gym to me is over an hour in any direction. I also live in a small population zone. If here was a gym in town it would be the closest gym to maybe 70,000-100,000 people total(35,000 in a 15 minute drive, ~50,000 in a 20 minute drive the 70,000 inside 35min and the rest at about 45minutes though if they drove 50 minutes in the other direction they'd be at a big city gym). So my question is, are there any gyms of decent size surviving (thriving) in small markets like this? There are probably small bouldering gyms doing alright, maybe in co-op models but I already have that in my attic.

Not that I want to start a gym, but I'm curious if I'm going to be confined to my attic to train for the rest of my life.

Steve Pulver · · Williston, ND · Joined Dec 2003 · Points: 455

Must be nice, I'm in NW North Dakota and have to drive 6 hours to get to a gym or outdoor climbing.

It sure seems like it would be feasible if there was a college nearby without a climbing wall, that would give you a customer base.

Eric LaRoche · · Keene, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 25
Steve Pulver wrote:Must be nice, I'm in NW North Dakota and have to drive 6 hours to get to a gym or outdoor climbing. It sure seems like it would be feasible if there was a college nearby without a climbing wall, that would give you a customer base.
There is about a 4,500 college student population in town and probably another 4k in the 30 minute zone.
Eric Carlos · · Chattanooga, TN · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 40

Grand Junction has about twice that many and is doing fine. Durango has much smaller market and is doing fine.

Eric LaRoche · · Keene, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 25
Eric Carlos wrote:Grand Junction has about twice that many and is doing fine. Durango has much smaller market and is doing fine.
Good to know. The entire county the Durango is in is only 54,000. Maybe there's hope still.
Erik Swanson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 0

Napa, CA has a population of 70,000. The local gym, Rockzilla, has been in business for quite a while and does alright. it helps to have few employees, many volunteers, and to buy holds off of ebay and craigslist with patience instead of from the manufacturers themselves.

M. Morley · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Jan 2002 · Points: 6,585

Both Pacific Edge in Santa Cruz and Rocknasium in Davis seem to do pretty well in what I would consider fairly small cities. Having a university in town definitely helps the chance of success.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,240

With that population there's absolutely opportunity for a roped gym, and a nicely profitable one as well. How many fitness clubs are there in your area? Same business model but a climbing gym has an even better opportunity to fill a niche. If you want to know more PM me, been working in gyms for 15 years.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Having real rock and seasonal weather helps. Living in NH, you've got to have plenty of climbers, but they need somewhere to train in the winter.

Eric LaRoche · · Keene, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 25

Concord, Manchester and Nashua have gyms then there another in Hadley, MA. I live in Keene which is the dead spot. And there's very little real rock in the area so even in summer there would be plenty of use especially this summer being 90* plus day after day. Current major gyms are YMCA and a Plant Fitness (both new facilities in the last 5 year) and a few small ones but those don't tend to last. While it'd be sweet to open one i don't have know how or capital. Hopefully one day someone will decide it's worth it.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,240

All you need is someone, anyone, with capital.

Chris Rice · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 50

Remember you are starting a "business" - not just a place to practice something you love. A solid business plan should be your first step.

Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,767
Tradoholic wrote:All you need is someone, anyone, with capital.
The million dollar answer...
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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