September 30, 2022

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Sports Really Satisfies

Gazelle Sports opening May 6 in downtown Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Gazelle Sports, a running, walking and outdoor apparel retailer, will open a store in downtown Grand Rapids store on Friday, May 6.

The new store, 55 Monroe Center St. NW, is located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, and will feature a selection of running shoes, socks, and other walking and running products and apparel, said CEO Jen Brummitt.

“We believe that the vision for downtown Grand Rapids is strong around making a really incredible place to shop, to live, to work, to run and walk, and we wanted to be a part of it,” she said, speaking at a ribbon cutting for the new store held with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and the Grand Rapids Chamber.

Gazelle opened its first retail store in Kalamazoo in 1985, and today has stores in Kentwood 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.

Brummitt said her company has been considering coming to downtown Grand Rapids for about 10 years. But the time wasn’t right until now, when the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority and property management firm Rockford Construction offered financial assistance to help make new location less financially risky.

The DDA, for example, provided the retailer with a $67,000 grant, and Rockford offered the space to Gazelle at a reduced rate. Rockford officials declined to say by how much it cut the retailer’s rental bill.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have them as part of the fabric of our downtown,” said Richard App, a small business retention and attraction specialist for the Grand Rapids Chamber.

App, who started in his role in January 2020, said Gazelle Sports is one of the companies he has long wanted to bring to downtown Grand Rapids.

The area, along Monroe Center St., has a number of bars and restaurants, but App and others have been working to attract more retailers to the area.

“This is the first small cluster of retail space that we have in our downtown,” App said. “We have more space to fill, but we’re getting to that spot.”

Gazelle’s ribbon cutting coincides with She Runs Grand Rapids, a half-marathon, 5k and 10k run taking place Sunday in Grand Rapids. Inside the retailer’s new downtown store, work is ongoing to get the location ready for its May 6 opening. Wall fixtures will be going up, and graphics of downtown Grand Rapids and the Amway River Bank Run will be going up on the walls too.

“We’re a company that started in 1985 in downtown Kalamazoo, and we know the power of retail in a downtown environment to bring energy and excitement,” Brummitt said. “We want to do that, and we want to be part of what’s next for downtown Grand Rapids.”

Gazelle has a three-year lease on its new space, with an option to opt out after three years if the location is unsuccessful.

The new location won’t have as many products and lifestyle apparel as the company’s significantly larger, big-box style location on 28th Street SE in Kentwood. Brummitt, however, said she’s confident the store will draw-in customers, particularly those who live and work downtown or nearby.

“I think there are more and more people walking, running, living, working in downtown Grand Rapids that maybe aren’t coming out to 28th Street,” she said.

“There is already a really vibrant running and walking community in downtown Grand Rapids. So, we just see there’s an opportunity to amplify what’s happening down here.”

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