Fit Right buys vacant downtown building

Fitness retailer plans to open fourth store at former Spanky’s site

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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After sitting vacant for nearly four years, the former Spanky’s Consignment store in downtown Vancouver has sold to Portland-based retailer Fit Right Northwest, which plans to eventually open its fourth location on the building’s ground floor.

The selling price has not yet been recorded for the two-story building at 812 Main St. Former business partners Lee Rafferty and Sandy Shepherd vacated the building in 2008 after relocating the Spanky’s second-hand clothing store to a leased location in east Vancouver. They then sold the business in 2009. The two women have been trying for years to sell their downtown building, a tough prospect as the lousy economy continued to subdue the commercial real estate market. In August, the building was listed for $800,000.

Fit Right has been searching for a downtown location, said Robb Finegan, who co-owns the sporting goods chain with Dave Sobolik. The company, which sells running and walking shoes and apparel and orthotics, already operates stores in

Northwest Portland and east Vancouver. It is getting ready to open its third store in May at the Streets of Tanasbourne shopping mall in Hillsboro, Ore.

Finegan said no plans have been made for when they would open a location in downtown Vancouver, but said it might not happen until next year.

“We don’t have immediate plans at the moment,” he said. “We’re just getting it purchased and going from there.”

Finegan said his company has been eyeing the downtown core for a number of reasons, including Tualatin, Ore.-based Gramor Development’s plan to build upscale residential towers and commercial projects on the former Boise Cascade mill site along the Columbia River waterfront. His company also was drawn by favorable real estate prices and ongoing plans for the new Columbia River Crossing and its light rail component.

“We think there’s some great opportunities downtown with the light rail coming in,” Finegan said.

Rafferty said she sees the building sale to Fit Right as a sign of economic improvement in the downtown core, when added to a number of other recent sales that show the area’s commercial market is gradually beginning to improve.

“They (Fit Right) have been waiting for the right place and the right time to come to downtown,” said Rafferty. who is now the executive director of the business group Vancouver’s Downtown Association.

The sale of the building is the latest in a series of recent real estate transactions downtown, including the August sale of its next-door neighbors at 808 Main St., the former Boyds 88 Cent Store, and 806 Main, the former Old Town Antique Market. Both buildings sold for a total of $800,000 to downtown property developer Ryan Hurley, who has said he plans to renovate the buildings.

Hurley also is the developer of the $1.5 million Source Climbing Center, a rock-climbing gym at 11th and Main streets.

The former Koplan’s Home Furnishings building at 1012 Washington St. sold to tech startup Gravitate Design Studio in December and much of the downtown area has undergone a mild growth spurt with a handful of new downtown retailers.

That’s an encouraging sign to Rafferty, after waiting nearly four years to sell her former store site.

“That building has so many happy memories to it,” she said. “Now it will have a very happy future as well.”