Part fitness boutique, part Museum of Ice Cream, web-born fitness brand Bala just opened an experiential store in NYC’s SoHo neighborhood.
Known for its appearance on Shark Tank and bolstered by its millennial pink Instagram presence, Bala has made a name for itself with pastel-colored jump ropes, Pilates rings, and its signature wrist and ankle weights, called Bangles.
Putting a luxe spin on fitness equipment, Bala’s product design led to a 10x increase in sales through 2021. As co-founder Max Kislevitz noted:
“It’s really a sculptural object that looks attractive even if it’s leaned up against the corner of your living room when not in use.”
Come together. Beyond shopping, the pop-up offers regularly scheduled “Balacize” group fitness classes that utilize its gear. Altogether, every aspect of the new shop points back toward Bala’s goal to make exercise more like play.
And lately, from try-before-you-buy to community-based brand building, retailers have also been making a show of their brick-and-mortar operations:
- Last August, Nike launched a 24,000-square-foot Nike Rise store in Seoul, a high-tech, highly personalized retail experience.
- Recovery tech company Therabody is scaling up its experiential wellness concept, Restore.
- Alo operates brick-and-mortars with yoga spaces, plant-based restaurants, and podcast rooms.
- Gymshark CEO Ben Francis says the goal of its forthcoming Regent Street London flagship is community, not to sell clothes.
Takeaway: Starved for in-person, hands-on experiences, brands are wooing customers with sensory experiences and multi-functional third spaces. In Bala’s case (a brand whose selling point is aesthetics), the bigger the spectacle, the better.