Bye bye big box; hello rock climbers

Responding to growing participation in rock climbing, Earth Treks Climbing is buying vacant big box stores and converting them into indoor climbing centers as reported by the Denver Post.

We can expect to see more such vacant spaces in the future. Consumers are spending more on experiences, health care and with e-tailers, according to The Economist. The article says 4,000 stores closed in 2016 and studies predict that number will double in 2017.

“Repurposing big box stores, which are fading at a breakneck pace, is a mounting challenge for the retail industry,” the Denver Post article said.

Earth Treks began building rock gyms in Virginia and Maryland. The Englewood, CO facility inhabits the world headquarters of the failed Sports Authority chain. The gyms also offer fitness equipment and programs, retail and social gathering places.

The interest in climbing is consistent with our earlier blog post about changing tastes in outdoor activity. A retail analyst said climbing sales grew from $52.9 million in 2014 to $175.5 million in 2016.