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Kosama fitness chain to open first of four stores in Tampa Bay

Fitness center chain Kosama is opening the first of four local locations next month in Westchase.

It almost moved its headquarters to Tampa Bay, too.

"Then we were sold to Snap Fitness (in January), so we moved to Minneapolis," said Bob Kral, Kosama president, who winters in Manatee County.

Familiarity with the market is one reason 21-store Kosama leapfrogged several states to spread beyond the Midwest into Florida with 10 stores by year's end.

Named for the initials of its Quad Cities, Iowa, founders, Kosama offers a personalized workout routine for any age that members perform over 50 minutes in a group setting. It's a varied six-day-a-week workout blending yoga, kettle bell weights, kickboxing, plyometrics and martial arts.

Members strap a heart monitor to their chest, which beams a readout to a big-screen TV. So the member and a trainer know who's easing up while others in the group don't.

"You get the social benefit of group exercise, yet maximize results without needing to keep up with the group," said Kral, a former Walgreens executive.

Membership for the eight-week course is $299 including boxing gloves and yoga mat. Maintenance is $59 a month.

Snap Fitness operates 1,200 around-the-clock neighborhood mini-fitness centers that don't require on-site staff. Snap franchisees can add a Kosama group exercise business next door.

Secondhand Shoes: About three-quarters of all goods at outlet malls are made and priced to be sold there, but outlet retailers often toss in some distressed merchandise from their full-line stores to create the allure of a treasure hunt.

It's not just unsold leftovers or manufacturers' mistakes. About 2 percent of the shoes at Nordstrom Rack, for instance, are marked down 70 percent because they were returned by shoppers to full-line Nordstrom stores after wearing them a few times. Labeled "worn and refinished" on the sole, the trick is getting the right size.

"They're hard to find because they sell so fast," said Tara Darrow, Rack spokeswoman. "I've seen $400 to $500 Prada shoes for under $100."

Not a Craftsman Home: Struggling Sears Holdings Corp. may be raising cash by trying to sell its mall department store real estate, but chairman and controlling-shareholder Ed Lampert is in buying mode. He just lavished $40 million on a seven-bedroom Florida mansion on private Indian Creek Island in Biscayne Bay. That's the most ever spent on a Miami-Dade County home, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Support, Restock: The research driving Best Buy's new policies of 30 days of free phone support to get purchased products up and running and a 30-day exemption from annoying restocking fees on all returns found:

• Consumers consider a 24/7 tech support expert more valued than any on-call professionals except doctors and police.

• More than a third of electronic gadget buyers ended up keeping "unsuitable" products because it was a hassle to return them. A quarter of them spent $51 to $100 on the purchase.

Sandblasted jeans: Target has joined Levi Strauss & Co. in halting the sale of sandblasted jeans after the current stock is gone. Like acid washing and fabric grinding, sandblasting is a technique used to give denim a fashionable, well-worn look. High-pressure sandblasting indoors was tied to an incurable lung disease called silicosis that killed 40 garment workers in Turkey since 2005.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8252.

Kosama fitness chain to open first of four stores in Tampa Bay 03/05/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 2:27pm]
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