Susannah Cole figures she is like most women when it comes to exercise.
“I don’t like it either,” she said. “But I get excited when I open a new pair of shoes.”
Cole hopes her new store, Jack and Jane Sport at 2900 Devine St. – which doesn’t sell shoes but does sell fashionable exercise clothing for women and men – connects with exercisers and sports lovers of all skill levels. But Cole’s target market is women 25 and older who want to look good while they exercise.
Her philosophy? If they look good, women will feel good about exercising. And that will keep them coming back to it, especially to group exercise settings.
Cole was once an exercise beginner, too. She always recognized exercise was important, she said. But a few years ago – in her mid-30s, amid a major health scare – she truly discovered its benefits, she said.
“It really changed my life for the better,” said Cole, a former lawyer whose exercise of choice is weight lifting. Her business partner, George Simpson, is the real runner of the two, she said.
While Cole was discovering the benefits of exercise, she said she felt intimidated when she went to shop for gear at some of the more sport-specific stores around town.
A couple of years ago, she decided to open an all-purpose store for exercise clothes. She first tested her retail abilities online, selling mostly supplements and exercise equipment. Finally, this year, she began looking for a space to open a retail store before the holidays. She said she settled on Devine Street because it is an active, health-minded community with people frequently running or walking their dogs past her store.
Cole’s new store has about 1,200 square feet of space, enough for a showroom, two dressing rooms, a sitting area with coffee and tea, and a small office.
It carries brands including ALO, lucy and Zobha – all of which make fashionable exercise clothes that also can be worn on errands or for lounging. The store also carries accessories, such as Sweaty Bands, patterned sweat bands that don’t slip, according to store manager Melissa Parks, and Feetures! socks.
Cole said opening a small business in today’s economy is terrifying. But she thinks consumers are more in the mood to spend this year – as the economy shows small improvements – than they have been in recent years.
She is counting on holiday sales to get her store off on the right foot. And she expects another boost in January – once those New Year’s resolutions start to kick in and “people are undoing the holidays.”