How Gymshark sold 90% of their product on the 1st day of their Canadian pop-up

Janine Bartels

UK fitness brand Gymshark took Toronto by storm with their two-day pop-up store. The hype around the #LiftToronto event resulted in 8000 people (on opening day) that queued up to gain exclusive access to Gymshark’s newest workout wear and most athletic ambassadors.

In anticipation of the pop-up, Gymshark advertised their Canadian ecommerce site offering free returns and prices that included duties. This created a buzz in the Canadian market and served as a marketing play in prelude to their activation announcement. Despite access to products online, dedicated fans still drove from far and wide to attend the event, jumping at the chance to meet the athletes they admire and follow so closely on YouTube and Instagram.

If, after spending a full-day waiting in lines, fans can still leave the pop-up store motivated and inspired, then Gymshark succeeded.

Loyal Gymshark fans waited for upwards of four hours outside the 10,000 square foot warehouse at Dupont and Dovercourt. The line wrapped around the block. Undeterred by the mass of people, the optimistic fans stuck around to meet the Gymshark athletes and founder Ben Francis, who could be seen chatting and taking photos with people in the queue.

Aaron, 23, drove through the night Saturday so he could arrive at the pop-up for 6am (despite doors not opening until 10am). “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet everybody,” he says. “Some of these people you will watch everyday. They become your role models.”

The turnout exceeded Gymshark’s expectations. Following pop-up stores in L.A., Melbourne, London and Paris, the #LiftToronto event was the most successful to date. Selling through all 300,000 products on hand (nearly all on day 1), they continued to generate sales by taking orders on iPads.

One glance around the packed warehouse made it clear that everyone was early-to-mid twenties. Many were dressed head to toe in Gymshark and came prepared with a selfie stick to capture every second of the experience.

Francis would have easily blended in if the spotlight wasn’t on him. The young visionary started Gymshark at 19 years old. He wanted more fitted fitness apparel, so he took up sewing and screen printing in his mother’s UK garage. Fast forward six years later, it is evident from this Toronto pop-up that the high-performance activewear has developed a huge fan base.

Shoppers were standing between the clothing racks waiting for the change rooms, arms overflowing with the athletic wear. While others joined the massive line to greet the athletes (fans said it took over an hour). But despite having 125 people in the store at a time, the 50 foot ceiling and large windows surrounding the entire perimeter made the space feel open. Flooded with natural light it was perfect for selfies and photos with the ambassadors.

There was no shortage of photo opps. The #LiftToronto backdrop had become a popular area for posing, and there was a massive TV screen streaming Gymshark campaign content. Loud upbeat music filled the lofty warehouse and kept energy levels high. Fans were buzzing with excitement.

“The atmosphere is so fun!” exclaims Sabine, 24, from the athlete line. She’s dressed in head-to-toe Gymshark. “I came from Québec to come to the pop-up shop. It’s not just a company for me, I love the message they send—the positivity, the confidence, and what they bring for women!”

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Uppercase set up a stage for the athletes, making it possible for shoppers to have full visibility. Anyone who wasn’t shopping or greeting the athletes stood back and watched their idols. Some patient fans were even hanging around on the floor until the next group of ambassadors got on stage.

Saturday morning’s lineup of athletes included Whitney Simmons (@whitneyysimmons), Nikki Blackketter (@nikkiblakketter), Meggan Grubb (@meggangrubb), Chris Bumstead (@cbum), and more. Capitalizing on these Insta-famous athletes and the millennial generation’s affinity for social media has led to $128 million in annual sales for Gymshark.

Guy, 24, having already had a chance to meet with the athletes, vouches for them. “They are the same on social media as they are in person. They couldn’t be nicer, happier or more outgoing. I want to be up there one day,” he says, as he gestures to the stage.

One day he just might be. Gymshark pushes people to action all their ideas, promoting the message: “Be all that you imagined you could be. Be a visionary.” If, after spending a full-day waiting in lines, fans can still leave the pop-up store motivated and inspired, then Gymshark succeeded. Toronto has been lifted.

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