Greater City Providence

Curves Closes on Hope (and closes, and closes)

Curves logoThe “Curves for Women” exercise storefront on Hope Street near Lippett Park is now for rent. I’m not sure how long that’s been the case, but it got me to thinking about the types of retail we all would like and not like to see in our neighborhoods.

First, about “Curves,” they initially seem to be a good fit for most areas. Fitness options are great for residents of neighborhoods, and the Curves chains, being modest in size and more affordable than the “big box” gyms like Golds, generally seem to be very “sidewalk retail” and urban friendly. All of the Curves outlets also tend to have vibrant and visible signage for their locations, which is good for building a streetscape.

On the downside, though, one of their hallmarks is privacy while working out, so they tend to have their windows completely shaded and covered, which takes away a bit from the streetscape and gives it a feel (at least from the sidewalk) of it being a “gated” business.

Also, in the last decade or so, I don’t think I’ve seen a single Curves outlet stay open at a location for more than a few years. They ALL seem to close at some point, and then reopen nearby, and then close again, and then open, and on and on. It’s seems like a franchise that’s in perpetual churn. Is such data available somewhere? What’s the durability of an average Curves business?

And what kind of retail do we want in our walkable urban neighborhoods? What’s viable outside of a mall? How many storefronts converted to ATM slots can we handle? What neighborhood services do we need? The openings and closings of Curves prompts the questions…

Bret Ancowitz

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