Shopping Centers Today International

APR 2016

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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named. Many of its users, including Ea- ton's sons, have gone on to compete in the X Games championships (known as the Olympics of extreme sports). "Slowly, the skateboarding park took over more and more of the complex," said Paul Preston, a company co-owner and its franchise director. But as the company looked at expansion oppor- tunities, it became clear that the future of large-scale gym complexes relies on their potential for diversification of ac- tion sports offerings. "Skateboarding is still popular, but kids are looking for a variety of athletic options," said Preston. "There's a real growth in the extreme- sports culture right now. Kids want to jump into air bags and run through ob- stacle courses and climb up walls." Meanwhile, parents want safe, super- vised venues where their children may socialize and run off steam. Thus it was that Kids That Rip became Kids That Rip Family Action Sports Center — of- fering both an open gym and classes in particular sports. The first of these opened in the Phoenix suburb of Chan- dler last November in a former grocery store. All the Kids That Rip Family Action Sports Centers require at least 40,000 square feet of space, Preston says. The company chose Chandler for the demographics: The city, which is part of Maricopa County, boasts a high percentage of affluent, well-educated people (the median family income is $81,720 per year, according to the 2010 census) and a large number of children. The center was a hit from the moment it opened, according to Preston. "We're already meeting our revenue goals," he said. "There are 300 to 500 people rou- tinely there every evening." Management says it plans to open as many as four action centers this year, and an additional 10 or so next year. At press time Preston was final- izing franchise agreements in Southern California and Dallas, and he was even working with a representative in China. "Slow and methodical" is the way Pres- ton describes the company's expansion. "We are looking for franchise owners with prior business experience who are dedicated to great customer service and are really excellent at day-to-day opera- tions," he said. This formula has worked for Preston in the past. As one of the co-owners of Aqua-Tots, a swim school for young children that was started in the Phoenix area (it was profiled in the September 2014 issue of SCT), Preston oversaw the openings of 54 national and international venues over the past eight years, in such U.S. cities as Omaha, Neb., and Charlotte, N.C., and abroad in Kuwait City and Istanbul. Preston credits Aqua-Tots' success to a strong moral foundation. The centers are op- erated according to several core values that management says are woven into every interaction, and Kids That Rip has adopted some of those same rules. "We choose relationships over profit; we praise in public, correct in private; we ex- tend grace to those who are teachable," said Preston. "If we run our business like that, we're going to be OK." There are several million action- sports participants in the U.S. during any given year, and three out of five teens say they watch extreme competi- tions regularly, according to the San Diego–based Active Marketing Group. Surely, none of that will hurt at all as the business seeks to keep growing. S C T r e T a i l i n g T o d a y 36 S C T / A p r i l 2 0 1 6

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