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Powerhouse to pickleball: An entrepreneur’s journey

Episode #: 272
Powerhouse to pickleball: An entrepreneur's journey

Guest: Brian Vigorita
Topics: Retail traffic trends, affordable luxury, store as a platform

In this week’s episode of Retail Retold, Chris sits down with Brian Vigorita, owner of Hudson Valley Pickleball and Golf Center in Poughkeepsie NY. They talk about Brian’s other entrepreneurial ventures, the process of getting a business open, and offer a sneak peek into Hudson Valley Pickleball and Golf which is opening soon at the Shoppes at South Hills in Poughkeepsie, NY!

What You’ll Learn

  1. What were the challenges of opening a gym in the middle of Covid?
  2. How did the idea for a pickleball facility materialize?
  3. What makes Hudson Valley Pickleball a unique concept compared to other pickleball facilities?
  4. What other amenities will Hudson Valley Pickleball host? How will they be managed?
  5. How long was the process of getting a lease signed for the facility?

About Retail Retold

The Retail Retold Podcast highlights community retailer stories from across the country and gives a behind-the-scenes perspective from business leaders in both retail and real estate industries. The show’s episodes contain valuable insights that help solve the needs of entrepreneurs and real estate pros. Join host Chris Ressa and new guests weekly for amazing insights and thought-provoking stories.


Chris Ressa  00:00

This is Retail Retold, the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris Ressa. And I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC Management.

Chris Ressa  00:19

Welcome to retail retold everyone. I’m your host, Chris Ressa. Today I’m joined by Brian Vigorita of Hudson Valley Pickleball. Welcome to the show, Brian.

Brian Vigorita  00:29

Thanks so much, Chris. I appreciate you having me on.

Chris Ressa  00:31

Yeah man. So, Brian, tell us a little bit more about who you are, what you do a little bit more about your background?

Brian Vigorita  00:38

Yeah sure. So um, so I have a bunch of different things that I do right now. So currently, I own a gym, a powerhouse gym in East Fishkill, New York. I also work for a healthcare education company doing graphic design. So I’m a creative director for that organization. So pretty busy days for me.

Chris Ressa  01:05

Are you a powerhouse franchisee?

Brian Vigorita  01:07

Yes, yes. Yep.

Chris Ressa  01:10

Got it, how long have you been in that world?

Brian Vigorita  01:14

We’ve been open just about four years, we wound up opening up right in the middle of COVID, which was insane. Insane, like the absolute worst time in the world for a gym to open up. But there was a lot of issues that went along with that that kind of forced our hand. But we’re here, we’re thriving. We’re doing well. So it’s been pretty good.

Chris Ressa  01:36

Wow. We’ll get to that in a second. That’s pretty impressive. Opening a gym in the middle of COVID in the northeast, for sure. Yeah. Bring me back even before that, what did you do before powerhouse and before the healthcare and how did you get into powerhouse?

Brian Vigorita  01:54

Well, I’ve been working for this company for over 27 years now.

Chris Ressa  02:00

Oh, wow.

Brian Vigorita  02:00

So yeah, I’ve been doing graphic design for a long time. So I went to school. I went to art school, as you know, I’m a fine arts major. You know, my big goal was to work for Disney back then. And then life happened and I had to find a job and find myself to where I am in the graphic design world. And been doing that for a while.

And then I got to a point where I felt like I needed to do something for myself. I didn’t want to work for somebody for the rest of my life. So this opportunity came, you know, by me about possibly opening up a gym in our town. And I jumped all over that. So yeah, I’m also a competitive bodybuilder. So that’s kind of one of the reasons why. You know, the gym was really important to me.

Chris Ressa  02:51

And opening your own business, you learned that it’s easy as pie. There’s never any issues and it’s

Brian Vigorita  02:59

Exactly, a no brainer. No brainer. Yeah.

Chris Ressa  03:04

Okay, and so. And now, you’re the owner of a pickleball facility, in Poughkeepsie, a tenant of ours, the property is called Shoppes at South Hills in Poughkeepsie, New York. So tell me how this idea ideated.

Brian Vigorita  03:24

So a good friend of mine, who’s actually my partner, Glenn Baram, we had reconnected, we went to high school together. And we reconnected up here in Dutchess County, by chance we met at his gym, so he actually owned the gym himself. And so he’s, he’s been a tennis player his whole life, you know, got into playing pickleball and then invited me to play a couple of times. And once you play pickleball, you kind of immediately love it, you know, it’s just one of those sports. So I really got into playing pickleball and one day I just said to Glen. Glen, we need to open up our own place. This is crazy.

There was like, no place in the area that offers like a true pickleball facility. You know, everything’s kind of make a lot of people do kind of makeshift courts. You know, they put them in gymnasiums, they put her wherever it may be, we were playing at the place that used to be his gym, Taconic Sport, and Racket. And they have a couple of courts there. And the sports become so insanely popular that it’s so hard to get court times, especially in kind of the winter months and the bad days.

You know, people love to play outside, but for the most part, you know, 75% of the time, you’re going to be playing pickleball indoors. So it’s so many pickleball players in the area, that we would really have a hard time just getting court time to play. So I said to Glen one day, I said we need to do this and you know, he said Yeah, you really think so? So we started to research the you know, the possibilities and kind of throw some numbers together and what we thought, you know, we can kind of generate from creating a pickleball facility, and everything just seemed to line up right and I was like, let’s do it. That’s it.

Chris Ressa  05:13

So, okay. Got it, so now we know a little bit about your history. I’m sorry it didn’t work out at Disney but I think you ended up in a good spot.

Brian Vigorita  05:24

Yes, definitely.

Chris Ressa  05:25

And let’s go back to Powerhouse for a second, and I didn’t plan on touching on that. So you mentioned you opened in COVID. When did you open?

Brian Vigorita  05:34

We opened up in August of 2020. Right when gyms were allowed to reopen. And that’s when you know, all the mandates were in place the six foot distancing, the masks, the, you know, the sanitizers, the, you know, the electrostatic sprayers all that kind of good stuff. You know, we had to deal with all that right from the beginning.

Chris Ressa  05:53

When did you sign that lease?

Brian Vigorita  05:57

We actually signed the lease in 2018. And we had a bunch of issues in the complex that we were in, we were literally two weeks away from opening up on one side of the complex, and the state shut the project down because the landlord hadn’t gotten the right approvals for us to be in a publicly accessible building. There was like a bunch of air quality control restrictions, because of the manufacturing that’s done in this complex. We’re in an old IBM complex in East Fishkill.

And they’re still one of the largest chip manufacturers, they’re still here, producing chips for cell phones, basically. So we got caught up with a lot of that stuff, the project got shut down, we fought with the state forever. Finally, you know, they denied us opening up in that space. So the landlord moved us to the opposite side of the complex, started to build out, and then COVID hit.

Chris Ressa  06:55

Wow. Did you think about going to a different property? Or was there not a lot of availability and this was just a rent deal you couldn’t pass up? What was the story?

Brian Vigorita  07:06

Yeah, I mean, we did research some other properties there wasn’t a lot availability at that time. And also the rent deal that we got here is pretty good. It’s very hard to hard to compete, you know, in some of the spaces that are in the area.

Chris Ressa  07:22

And you’re a franchisee and I know, like as a franchisee they have, like, they push you to get open at times.

Brian Vigorita  07:31


Chris Ressa  07:32

Was there some pressure from Powerhouse like, hey guys, you got to get this open?

Brian Vigorita  07:37

No, because they knew the whole situation was basically out of our hands. You know, we went to the point where we had to fight the landlord in court. And then you know, came up with a resolution, and were able to, you know, build the gym on the other side of the complex, but then, you know, the world the crap hit the fan and the world, you know, and we kind of got stuck in the middle of it.

Chris Ressa  08:00

So a risk taker, no doubt opening up in the middle of Covid. But I wonder, because everyone was itching to get out of their house, you were a new gym. It wasn’t like, a gym that was a cash flowing gym had to shut down. This hadn’t opened yet. You opened in August of 2020? Did you end up beating projections because there was such an itch of people get out of their house?

Brian Vigorita  08:29

No, unfortunately not, no. There was still tons and tons of people that were afraid to come back to the gym, up until probably a year ago, not util about a year ago that we actually start to see everything kind of normalized in the gym world where, you know, people felt comfortable coming back to the gym. You know, there’s obviously there was a ton of people who were ready to get out of their house and get back to the gym and stuff. But so many people just didn’t want to do it, and then we had to fight the battle of you know, well, everybody put a home gym in their house because they didn’t have a gym to work out in. And so now it’s like, why am I gonna spend money on a gym membership? I just spent all this money on a home gym. I’ll just stay at home for a while. So yeah, it was a struggle. Definitely was a struggle.

Chris Ressa  09:10

Sure. Okay, so you had that fun experience, and you wanted to open up another conecpt?

Brian Vigorita  09:20

Yeah, I mean, the pickleball place is a no-brainer. I mean, it’s the fastest growing sport in the United States. And, you know, we’re gonna be the biggest in the area. And we have a really good concept that we’re that we’re kind of putting together. People are really going to love the space that we’re in. They really are. So we’re excited.

Chris Ressa  09:42

So let’s talk about that.

Brian Vigorita  09:45


Chris Ressa  09:45

So what is the concept? Explain it to everybody.

Brian Vigorita  09:51

So we have it’s indoor. It’s pickleball and indoor golf. So we’ll have 10 pickleball courts and five golf simulators.

Chris Ressa  09:59

Is it membership based? what will it have? how is it?

Brian Vigorita  10:03

It’ll be membership based, but you don’t have to be a member to play. So if you’re a member, you’ll get discounted court time or golf bay time, you get discounts on some of the store items, any type of clinics or leagues that we do, because, you know, we’re gonna have all that there. So we have a big lineup of, you know, beginner clinics and advanced clinics. And, you know, we plan on doing leagues minimum of once every other month, so, I’m sorry, tournaments once every other month, then we’ll have leagues for both pickleball and golf.

So it’s, it’s gonna be really exciting. And part of what we’re trying to do is actually create an atmosphere in the place that really wants you to kind of stay and hang out and, you know, have a drink or have something to eat, or just, you know, have a cup of coffee, watch your friends play, that kind of stuff.

Chris Ressa  11:00

So there’ll be a restaurant inside.

Brian Vigorita  11:03

Not necessarily like a full restaurant, but there will be food, we will have, we will have a bar. So we are serving alcohol too. And, yeah, we’ll have a nice cafe area.

Chris Ressa  11:14

Here’s one that I was curious about. So I’ve seen some of these,  as being a landlord nationally, we’re seeing some other pickleball concepts trying to go and open up. No one’s really scaled it nationally yet. There’s a lot of groups that have three or four locations, but no one’s like, there’s no Starbucks of pickleball yet. There’s a race to do it, but there isn’t any yet.

Chris Ressa  11:32

There definitely is.

Chris Ressa  11:39

Will you have showers?

Brian Vigorita  11:41


Chris Ressa  11:42

So that’s a big one, I’ve seen a lot that don’t.

Brian Vigorita  11:45

Yeah, we’re gonna have full locker room. So bathrooms, showers, the lockers. We’ll have a pretty nice sized party room. So where you’ll be able to, you know, have your pickleball parties or birthday parties or whatever it may be. We have what’s been what we’re calling the stadium court. So that’ll be kind of a court that’ll have bleachers, and all those good things. So we can have our, you know, tournament finals there, and all those types of things. So we’re really trying to make it like a really fun atmosphere.

Brian Vigorita  12:16


Chris Ressa  12:16

That’s really cool. For those who don’t know, Brian took a former Christmas tree shop space.

Chris Ressa  12:20

That was the former tenant. So, I’m excited to see this, we’re going to have to do a DLC outingat this spot. Where are you in construction and all that stuff?

Brian Vigorita  12:37

We’re supposed to be getting the final permits this week, that’s what we’re waiting on. So, we have a town planning board meeting tomorrow afternoon, to discuss the exterior, because obviously, we have to slightly change the exterior because of the Christmas tree shop style. You know, they have big stained glass windows, and you know, the sand on the roof and all that kind of stuff. So we have some exterior work that needs to be done that needs to be approved by the planning board and our interior work. We’ve done all the demo, we’re just waiting on the final permits to start the interior.

Chris Ressa  13:13

Fascinating, and how long in construction do you think you’re gonna have?

Brian Vigorita  13:17

We are really pushing to get this done in two months.

Chris Ressa  13:20

Good luck.

Brian Vigorita  13:21

Yeah, I know, but our goals we opened in May, you know, that, hopefully, by Memorial Day weekend would be awesome if we can do that. So that’s what we’re going to push for.

Chris Ressa  13:35

And in the opening, when will like. So you got a lot of different concepts in here where like, you’re gonna create leagues, pickleball leagues, you’re gonna have clinics, you’re gonna have tournaments, you’re gonna do parties. How are you going to manage all those different facets? Because those are like, they’re almost like mini separate businesses, all of those.

Brian Vigorita  13:54

Yeah, so we actually hired. So we have a general manager that we hired, that’s going to run the majority, the facility itself, we have a director of golf, who will manage all aspects of the golf. So all the leagues, you know, the clinics, the club fitting, all that stuff will be managed by him. And we actually have a director of pickleball. So yeah, so we really did our homework and made sure that we put the right people, you know, on board with us to make us as successful as possible. Got it?

Chris Ressa  14:22

Got it. Are you done after this or are more concepts coming?

Brian Vigorita  14:32

This will not be the first one that’s for sure.

Chris Ressa  14:35

You mean the last one?

Brian Vigorita  14:36

Yeah the last one, I’m sorry. This will not be the last one.

Chris Ressa  14:39

Do you envision more gyms, more pickleball stuff or more of something else?

Brian Vigorita  14:46

Definitely not more gyms. The gym business is a tough business. It really is. You know, there’s a lot of competition in the area. And it’s tough to make money in the gym business. Let’s just put it that way. Pickleball not so much. I think we’re do really well with pickleball. And, you know, excited to hopefully expand into, you know, maybe north, maybe the Kingston area, possibly. Maybe we go south, somewhere in Westchester or something to that effect. So

Chris Ressa  15:16

Excellent man. So from when you had the idea, to when you signed a lease with us, how long of a process was that? How long of a  time period?

Brian Vigorita  15:27

Wow, that was almost a year, honestly, because we had, we had looked at a bunch of different places. We were working with you on one space that didn’t work out. Then we wound up going over to the Poughkeepsie Galleria, and worked with them for a while, and that didn’t work out. And then you guys came back and were like, Christmas Tree Shop is available. Like we’ll take it. You know? That’s how it kind of just, it all fell together perfectly for us actually but It’s been about a year.

Chris Ressa  15:56

Awesome. Well, Brian, this has been amazing. I appreciate the time.

Brian Vigorita  16:01

Yeah. Thank you.

Chris Ressa  16:02

Anything else you want to leave the listeners with?

Brian Vigorita  16:06

Wow. Um, if you haven’t played pickleball yet, go try it because you’re gonna love it.

Chris Ressa  16:12

Awesome. And please check out Hudson Valley, Pickleball on route nine in Poughkeepsie when they open in May.

Brian Vigorita  16:22

Let’s hope

Chris Ressa  16:23

Alright Brian, this has been great. Really appreciate the time.

Brian Vigorita  16:26

Awesome. Thanks, Chris.

Chris Ressa  16:27

Thank you.

 Thank you for listening to retail retold. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal that you were a part of on our show. Please reach out to us at retail retold at DLC This show highlights the stories behind the deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, broker, entrepreneur, architect or an attorney. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to retail retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode

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