It might seem like a store catered to such a niche customer base would have difficulty thriving, but the local triathlete community is helping Tri360 do just that.
On Sept. 1, Tri360 at 2121 N. Westmoreland St. in East Falls Church will celebrate one year of serving the area’s triathletes. While the shops’ consumer base might seem narrow, Blaine Atkisson — who co-owns the store with his wife, Kate — says the D.C. area triathlon community is large and active, with events every other weekend and thousands of participants. This community has contributed to the store’s increasing sales, which have made the couple excited about its progress, despite some initial struggles to expand the brand.
Kate, an active triathlete herself, came up with the idea for Tri360 in 2011. A year ago, there wasn’t a place in the area for athletes to stock up on all three types of gear needed to run a triathlon: running, biking and swimming. Catering to that need was the driving force behind ultimately opening the shop, Blaine said.
“A year ago, we were consumers of these products,” he said, “so we kind of built our store around addressing the needs of the consumer.”
Today, in line with a local triathlon scene that seems to be growing, Blaine said the store gets a steady flow of customers, with traffic peaking on the weekends and during evening hours as commuters leave work. Since January 2013, sales have continually increased, he said. July was a record month for the store.
Blaine said the community is bolstered by strong membership in some of the area’s clubs, many of which can be found easily through the internet. The D.C. Triathlon Club recently won the Mid-Atlantic Club Championship, but Arlington boasts its own selections of communities. Dominion Cycling & Triathlon, Team Z, Team FeXY and the Arlington Triathlon Club are all nearby and cater to various athletic strengths.
At the end of 2012, Virginia was ranked sixth for most triathlon members in the country at 5,879, according to USA Triathlon. D.C. boasts about 782, and Maryland hosts 3,116. The Iron Man Lake Placid, which took place in upstate New York last weekend, featured a huge contingent of D.C.- and Arlington-area participants, Blaine said.
Tri360 offers racks of bike shorts, swim suits and helmets, as well as shelves stocked with nutrition-packed snacks. The store also has a fitting station and a repair station below walls of various types of bikes. They can sell anywhere from $500-$12,000, Blaine said.
As the store’s one-year anniversary approaches, the Atkissons say they’ll continue to grow the business and inject its brand into the Arlington community. Blaine said he hopes to organize events and sponsor a Tri360 team that could compete in the area’s dozens of competitions.