Stand Alone MMA Stores Increasing, But What Does The Future Hold?

February 2, 2009

Retail is taking a hit much like other businesses in the economy these days but a trend that is emerging in relation to MMA is the increasing number of stand alone MMA apparel/training gear stores. Up to this point in time, product in the apparel/training gear market has been distributed through one of two ways for the most part: either through online entities like a or as an offshoot of pre-existing MMA entities like gyms. That is not to say that these stand alone stores haven’t existed until now but their numbers have started to flourish as the sport has exploded in popularity.

Online has been a popular venue because the niche status of MMA for much of it’s span has not allowed for the large numbers of customers within any given geographic location to support a brick and mortar operation. Online allowed for a wider net to be cast in offering MMA related goods, giving the MMA gear/apparel the ability to reach a critical mass and shift from viability to profitability to sustainability.

An entity like a gym being a vehicle for distribution has been ideal because it presented a dedicated audience that had a pre-existing disposition to the product. It also allowed the retail portion to serve as secondary source of revenue, not having to pay all the freight for the success or failure of apparel/gear venture.

The new angle is the spread of the stand alone brick and mortar store that provides access to gear and apparel. Stores of this type are popping up with increasing prevalence. Stores recently opened up in Yuma and Mesa, Arizona as well as places like Greensboro, NC.

It is still up in the air as to the viability and long term chances of success for these stand alone MMA stores. Has MMA grown in popularity to the degree that a stand alone store would be able to generate the foot traffic needed to make them a success? You’d like to think so, but without some entity attached to the stores as a driver of sales (like a gym) these stores will face an uphill battle to survive.

They may also see increased competition in the form of the UFC branded gyms that were recently announced by Zuffa and their partners. As these branded gyms spread out over the country, they will serve as another distribution channel for the UFC to push product through. The UFC can sell their own line of UFC branded apparel/product as well as that of those it holds business interests in like Tapout, Cage Fighter, Skeletal Metal, Xyience, etc. They would also have an audience for such things as their UFC branded gloves, and opportunities to sell things like gis, rash guards, heavy bags, shin guards, etc. Having such a location serve as a one stop shopping location for such items may mark the death knell to the viability of these stand alone entities.

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