Gazelle Sports plans a store in downtown Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Gazelle Sports plans to open a store at 52 Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids in May.

The running and outdoor clothing retailer received a $ 67,000 retail grant from the Downtown Development Authority on Wednesday. In addition to the retail subsidy, Gazelle received “generous concessions” from the owner of the building and its property manager, Rockford Property Management, officials said.

“As a business that started in downtown Kalamazoo over 35 years ago, we believe in the power of local businesses that add to the vibrancy and experience of a large downtown community.” , Jennifer Brummitt, CEO of the company, said in a statement. “The vision of downtown Grand Rapids as a retail and wellness destination is a perfect fit for our organization, and we look forward to further committing to Grand Rapids by planting our roots on the Monroe Center. “

Gazelle has a five-year lease for the space, but can opt out after three years if the location proves unsuccessful.

In a note to DDA board members, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., the organization that manages DDA funding, said Gazelle “has long been identified as an ideal retailer” for downtown. city, but obstacles such as cost “kept them from making an investment.”

“To combat this, staff worked with the Gazelle team and proposed owner, Monroe Center, LLC, to identify the appropriate space and price to give them the best chance for success,” the memo reads.

Gazelle’s 3,600-square-foot downtown store is expected to employ a full-time manager and up to 12 additional full-time and part-time employees, according to a press release from the retailer. The building at 52 Monroe Center is occupied by Ali Nicole Bridal, who will move in late February.

Gazelle opened its first retail store in Kalamazoo in 1985 and today has stores in the suburbs of Grand Rapids and Holland, as well as Birmingham and Northville in southeast Michigan, according to its website. The downtown Grand Rapids location would be the retailer’s sixth brick and mortar store.

The new store is significantly smaller than Gazelle’s location at 3930 28th St. SE in Kentwood. But coming downtown also offers other opportunities such as organizing community races, group activities and more community engagement,

“We feel like being downtown opens us up to a new consumer, a new group of customers who maybe don’t come all the way to 28th Street to shop,” Brummitt said. She also noted that a downtown presence will help Gazelle partner with the community for events such as the Amway River Bank Run and the Lake Michigan Credit Union Bridge Run.

She said Gazelle made a “significant investment” in downtown Grand Rapids, but the $ 67,000 DDA grant was needed to help eliminate the risk from the business.

“It really made the proposition less risky for us to come downtown and give it a chance,” said Brummitt. Also speaking about the importance of the lease, she said: “They were open to a really favorable lease term, so we can give it a try.”

Richard App, a retail retention and attraction specialist in the city of Grand Rapids, said bringing a regional retailer like Gazelle downtown is a goal for the city.

“Having an anchor tenant like them in our downtown area, especially in the space between Monroe Center, between Ionia and Division, is going to help us get a real cluster of movable property in a space we didn’t have. in the past, ”said App, which noted that he and his colleagues had been in discussions with Gazelle about the new store for the past six to eight months.

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