Virginia Beach workout clothing store announces it is closing amid rising owner costs after pandemic

Like many top athletes and small business owners, Malissa Murphy knows all about endurance.

Murphy has kept his store, Endurance Apparel and Gear at Hilltop Plaza in Virginia Beach, open throughout the pandemic but will close Jan. 31.

Adjacent to Trader Joe’s near Laskin Road, the 1,400 square foot store stocks everything from CrossFit, Spartan racing, UFC, mud racing, and everyday fitness gear and apparel.

“You name it; anything you can find online that you can’t find locally is here in the store,” Murphy said.

All of the store’s items — down to light fixtures, mirrors, wall mounts and massage tables — went on sale Monday.

“I built a store that didn’t exist in the world and gave the community something it needed,” Murphy said.

She said she wanted a place where athletes could try things on before making a purchase. The store, which opened in February 2017, sports a makeshift workout area in the middle of its showroom with a platform, dumbbells and weights for customers to try out products.

Cindy Stolebarger of Chesapeake said she loves the “try before you buy” concept at Endurance and found everything she needed for her CrossFit workouts.

“I picked up shoes, workout clothes, belts, jump ropes, and all kinds of post-workout recovery tools,” Stolebarger said. “I’m going to miss the personal touch…there’s just something special about the small business ‘mom and dad’ experience.”

Murphy said her five-year lease was due to end last fall as she began negotiations with landlord Brixmor Property Group. When she learned that common area maintenance costs would be part of her new tenancy agreement in addition to a possible rent increase, Murphy said she could no longer sustain the business.

Maria Pace, spokeswoman for Brixmor Property Group, said the tenancy agreements are private contracts with tenants and they do not share specific terms. Hilltop Plaza is the only center that New York-based Brixmor owns and operates in Hampton Roads, Pace said.

Business was booming before COVID and when the virus hit, Murphy said it was her loyal customers who helped her through it. She was forced to lay off her four employees, but still managed to keep the store open since it sells protein supplements.

Curbside pickup, home deliveries and online sales have become common practice.

“Anything I could do to help customers – that’s what we did,” Murphy said. “I don’t even really know how I managed to get out of it, but we did.”

She said she paid off one of the first Paycheck Protection Program loans she received so someone else could use it — because she had no employees to whom the to give.

Accustomed to both change and building a business from scratch, Murphy isn’t sure what her next venture will be, but she’s confident it’ll be fine.

“It’s sad to spend five years building a business and know that another business owner would rather see a small business close than help it,” she said.

Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, sandra.pennecke@insidebiz.com

*Inside Business would like to hear about other challenges small businesses face. Please send your story to inside.business@insidebiz.com.

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