I was running a little late as I approached the new Sweatshop concept store, on Trump Street in the City of London, and as I jogged along beside the building towards the grand entrance, I glanced up to the glazed second floor and saw Nick Pearson, Managing Director, talking to a group of very fit looking people, all clutching a glass of champagne. “This’ll be a fine evening” I thought to myself. Little did I know how fine!
The ground floor of the three storey building is the Sweatshop retail space, but as I came in I didn’t have time to take it in at all – I was ushered up the stairs, just in time to say hello to Nick and find a place to stand before he addressed everyone invited to the opening of this new retail space.
Nick then announced that he would be joined at the microphone by some special guests and one by one they emerged from the crowd: Chrissie Wellington, Liz Yelling, David Weir, Christian Malcolm… the list went on and on. How had I missed these people? These heroes of mine? I must remember to be a little more observant in future…
The thinking behind the store
But before that, Pearson took us through the idea of the Trump Street space. The space is divided up between five partners – Sweatshop in the ground floor retail space, City Athletic, a gym operator in the basement and, on the second floor, Perfect Balance Clinic, offering physiotherapy, massage and osteopathy, The Running School, giving expert advice and coaching for those looking to improve their running technique and The High Altitude Centre offering simulated altitude training on spin bikes or running treadmills at the equivalent of 2000m to 3000m. They have also found space for a community area on the second floor where there will be free exercise and fitness activities and anything else they can think of.
The idea for bringing all of these facilities together in one space, Nick told me after his speech, came from one of the founding principles of Sweatshop – of helping take runners to the next level. They have discovered that Sweatshop customers often need more than just some new running kit – they need help with training, injury rehab, biomechanical issues and even a bit of thin air!
Won’t all be plain sailing
So the team at Sweatshop have brought it all together and I think it will really work. I think that the location is perhaps a challenge – the Square Mile is not renowned for being the most accessible place for those less-affluent but hopefully the facilities will be enough of a draw to get people to come and have a look.
There is also the challenge of making sure that people don’t think that anti-gravity treadmills and altitude chambers are just for the very elite of running. But Nick is aware of both these concerns and I am sure he has a plan in place to deal with them. There are even a few ideas that I have had that might find a home on Trump Street, so watch this space!
Warning: name-dropping section
And after a wonderful couple of hours of talking to some amazing people including Chrissie Wellington (who remembered me from when I presented her with last years RESPY award), Martin Yelling (we discussed how wonderful it is to not easily be able to describe what you do, because you do so many diverse things!), David Weir, Mike Antoniades from the Running School, Mike East from Brooks, the entire Fit Brands team, Paul Shanley from Run247 and lots of other people, I headed downstairs to leave… and into a running Aladdin’s Cave!
The retail experience
The retail space that I had rushed through on my way in is fantastic and I really think that a financial health warning should be applied to the door. Every brand is there with plenty of space to get around. There are racks and racks of shoes (including a very interesting looking Adidas racing flat that I haven’t seen before). There are gait analysis treadmills and some really cool touches such as a walkway made up of old marathon race numbers (at one point I ended up standing on Aly Dixon’s number from the London!) and club vests from the length and breadth of the country hanging from the ceiling.
So all in all, I think that Nick Pearson and his team at Sweatshop have done really well. The space looks great and I think that if they can get people to visit Trump Street, they will start to create a hub for runners. This could be the way that the bricks and mortar retailers take back control from those online and I for one will definitely be back to have another look around.
The Sweatshop Trump Street store can be found at 6 Trump Street, London, EC2V 8AF and on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 December they are giving away £50,000 of prizes to the first 500 people to spend £30 in store including specialist running gear, a pair of spikes signed by Olympic Champion Jessica Ennis, a high altitude training trip for 2 to Kenya with flights and accommodation, and a trip for 2 to the Diamond League Athletics Meeting in New York as well as flights and accommodation. Details here. So I’d get down there if I were you!