A learn-as-they-go approach seems to be working for the owners of Supplement World, who last month opened their fourth location in less than four years.
Dustin West and Jeff McAnarney came up with the idea for their business while working together in membership sales at a health club. Figuring their connections in the fitness industry would help attract customers, they opened a store north of Kellogg in Andover in May 2013.
Eleven months later, they opened their second location, on Ridge Road near Central in west Wichita.
“It was a big hit for us,” West said. “It immediately outperformed the Andover store. I think that’s mainly because of the location.”
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But West says they were “still trying to figure things out as far as products, employees, management – things like that.”
Eventually, he said, “We kind of realized we had a business model we could possibly scale up and eventually move into a different market.”
The partners opened a third outlet in Oklahoma City in April of this year. In addition to being close enough to commute to by car a couple of times a month, West said, “The competition in our industry in that area was pretty slim, other than just the national franchises. Oklahoma City felt like a great market for us to go into.”
The Supplement World store is located in south OKC.
“We’re definitely looking to expand some more there,” West said. “We have a ton of room to work with there.”
They weren’t done in Wichita either. West and McAnarney figured another store could succeed on Wichita’s east side, although they didn’t want to take away sales from their Andover store. Their newest store, at Central and Woodlawn, opened Nov. 16.
West said the supplement business “has grown tremendously in the last five or 10 years” but that there’s also “a ton of competition,” especially online. Supplement World also sells through its website, although some products are only available in stores.
The company sponsors numerous athletes, weightlifters and bodybuilders with local connections, including MMA fighter David “Caveman” Rickels and Ms. Kansas United States Meeghan Dunleavy.
“It’s tough to really separate yourself with products alone in this industry,” West said. “What we try to capitalize on is customer service, the customer experience, going above and beyond.
“If they need help with dieting or workout guidance, we can help them as well. We are really interested in finding out the customers’ goals, whatever that might be.”
West said the stores’ biggest sellers are products designed to help people either gain muscle or lose weight.
“That can be a 16-year-old kid who wants to play college sports and needs to develop his fitness, or it can be a 60-year-old lady who is 50 pounds overweight,” West said. “Our market is a very wide range.”
West said he oversees operations of the company while McAnarney focuses on finances. West credits two employees – Jordan Shaw, who’s in charge of inventory, and Alex Sims, director of sales – with helping the company succeed in Oklahoma City.
He said figuring out what products to offer is one of the biggest challenges, and that feedback from customers “is the biggest determining factor in what we bring in and what we weed out.”
Most Supplement World stores boast a sales area of about 1,350 square feet, although the newest location is larger. The company has 13 employees.
West said the plan is for more stores.
“We’re really just trying to solidify our brand, operations and our business model in general,” he said. “We definitely want to expand as much as we can from here and hopefully become a national brand.”