After more than 35 years as a one-store operation in Flint, MI, Complete Runner is about to double its unit count with a second location in nearby Grand Blanc, MI.
For Complete Runner owner Brad Brown, the addition of a second store fulfills an ambition he held since the day he purchased the independent running store in 2016 following a dozen years in the building products industry.
“As great as Complete Runner was doing, I felt we could expand and grow our footprint,” Brown says. “I figured it would be a five-year plan, but it came together in four.”
The Makings of a Deal
Long exploring potential second locations, Brown learned in Fall 2019 of a family jewelry store in downtown Grand Blanc looking to close its doors.
“The owner’s husband had passed away earlier in 2019 and she was looking to retire,” Brown says. “She wanted to shut the business and sell the building.”
Surveying the Grand Blanc property, Brown’s intrigue grew. It sat in Grand Blanc’s lively central business district and across from Ziggy’s, an iconic ice cream shop and frequent destination for locals. Yet more, the building rested about 10 miles away from the flagship Complete Runner location in Flint, giving Brown ready access to a new customer base without cannibalizing much of the Flint store’s existing business.
“I felt we had plateaued with our customer base in Flint and needed to extend our reach,” Brown says. “This spot offered that opportunity.”
Though Brown had considered leasing, he was drawn to the idea of purchasing a space to diversify his holdings and build equity, especially given access to low interest rates.
“It’s a bigger investment to buy, but I saw the value in having an asset like this,” says Brown, a Grand Blanc resident himself.
Brown closed on the deal last April, though he did not take occupancy until the jewelry store completed its liquidation sale in November. The Grand Blanc store is on pace to open March 1.
Store #2 Comes To Life
Throughout the winter, Brown oversaw a complete overhaul of the 1800-square-foot space. In gutting the property, the building’s auto shop origins surfaced, including 16-foot ceilings, concrete block walls and exposed ductwork. The new store blends those industrial elements with contemporary features like pendant lighting and new flooring.
“With the excitement of something new, it’s like 2016 all over again for me,” Brown says. “To have something I’ve done from the ground up like this is immensely satisfying.”
Despite retail’s continued challenges amid COVID-19, Brown is nevertheless energized by the prospects of his new store and expresses “no hesitation” about his decision to expand.
“I’m confident that the way our business is structured and the connections we have within the community have us well positioned to successfully grow our customer base,” he says.
In time, Brown envisions a space that will emerge a central gathering spot for locals and a vibrant hub of activity with fun run groups and in-store events.
“I’m most excited to connect with more people, to become an active part of the community and to contribute to the great atmosphere that already exists here in downtown Grand Blanc,” he says.