I had the pleasure of interviewing local business owner Dave Burbage of Main Street Fitness recently, discussing his background with starting the business as it celebrates it’s 20th anniversary. It’s always great to learn more about those in my community who have had a similar drive to go out on their own and especially those who happen to do so right in my backyard!
When did you start Main Street Fitness?
Main Street Fitness opened its doors in Historic Woodstown in the Fall of 1998. We are located in the building most people that are old enough, would remember as Ford’s Florists. A Woodstown landmark for decades. We are now proudly in our 20th year of business.
What inspired you to take your passion and start a business?
I played competitive soccer through college and lifted weights since high school. I got very serious with lifting while in college. Once out of college, I worked for two different fitness equipment companies. I quickly became the General Manager of the first, and followed suit with the second. A friend of mine that owned another local business asked if I had ever considered opening a gym in Woodstown. We got together and discussed it. Soon after, we formed a partnership. He bought the building, and we began the build out for the gym. A few short months later, I bought him out of the business. Not long after that, I would find myself in the position to buy the building as well.
What kind of problems and issues did you run into at first? What continues to be a challenge?
The building we are in was originally a florist. The demolition and cleanout were a monumental task. Fortunately, my former partner is very handy, and we did the majority of the build out ourselves. The primary hurdle with starting the business from scratch was the fact that fitness was a fairly new concept to many people in the area, due to a lack of facilities in the past. We had a pre-sale on memberships and hit the ground running though. Continuing challenges are the same here as with any business. Ever-growing competition, the attrition rate, and trying to be all things, to all people, while still keeping costs down. Lower overhead is what keeps memberships affordable, and the members happy. Trying to maintain the facility and the equipment, while keeping costs down, are definitely things that take great attention.
Obviously we talk about digital media and marketing around here. How has the web played a role in growing your business and what channels do you use to spread the word?
Woodstown is a very unique community. I know people use Groupon, Yelp, and other means of internet marketing in the area, but word of mouth still prevails. This is especially the case when it comes to a service that needs to be local, due to frequency of use. I know people that will drive hours for a specialty store or favorite restaurant, but when you use a fitness center several times a week, location is the most important thing, followed by word of mouth. Again, this particularly holds true in a small community. All of that being said, we are seeing increasing success with utilizing social media. And ironically, it is the very person interviewing me, Eric Hebert, that I am using for our internet consulting work. Eric has brought forth a great deal of suggestions and insight, that I had not thought of in the past. I fancy myself to be very internet savvy and really did not think there was a lot that I had not thought of. I was wrong.
What can we look forward in 2019 and beyond for the Main Street Fitness Brand?
Primary changes for the future of Main Street Fitness will first and foremost feature more internet presence. This is inexpensive and very easily (and QUICKLY) implemented. Beyond that, there will be some reinvestment into equipment and infrastructure here to keep members happy and interested. Lastly, members will have something to look forward to that they have grow quite accustomed to….. No price increases. Free personal training. Direct contact and communication with the owner. And as always, a family environment that is welcoming to all.