Penn State student Alex Martin has always been a fitness fanatic.
As an avid runner and aspiring fitness instructor, the second-semester freshman says its important for her to stay on top of her nutrition.
She used to shop at the General Nutrition Corporation store in her hometown of Williamsport, but hasn't been to the GNC stores in State College since moving here because they're too far from downtown.
That's no longer a problem now that a new GNC store has opened its doors at the corner of Pugh Street and College Avenue.
"This is a very convenient spot for me," Martin says of the new GNC. "They have my favorite protein bars here, so I don't have to go all the way to Wegmans anymore. They also have my protein powder, so I don't have to order that online."
Jake Brown, the manager of the new GNC location, says the store has been operation since Dec. 31. Though the holidays made the timing a little stressful, Brown says he wanted to be up and running in full force before all the students come back for the start of the spring semester.
He was brought on board in November, after the site of the former Snappy's convenience store was acquired by GNC and the conversion was already underway. Brown calls the new store "the best location in State College, hands down." Located right across from campus, he expects to do plenty of business with Penn State students.
The new store joins three other locations, one at the Nittany Mall, one in Hills Plaza and another on North Atherton Street.
Brown expects two items to be especially popular: protein bars and protein shakes, both of which are ready for consumption right out the door. For the busy college student with little time to sit down and eat, he says these snacks can help fill a hungry stomach between meals without needing to resort to unhealthy fast food or energy drinks.
But getting the store ready wasn't a walk in the park.
"We had 693 boxes of product dropped off in one day that we had to put away," Brown says. "It was like a maze of boxes in here. There were at least ten people, working nine to ten hour shifts, working to get this place running."
The store no longer resembles a maze of boxes, with racks of vitamins and supplements carefully arranged on the shelves. Though the bulk of the set-up is done, Brown is still working to make sure that every price tag and sign is correct. With some luck, he hopes to have two additional part-time employees soon to help handle the increase in business he expects.
In the meantime, Brown says the new store is giving away free gold cards with each purchase to celebrate the grand opening. The cards normally cost $15, and grant customer discounts on many items in the store. With about 200 left to give away, Brown looks forward to building a customer base for a busy semester.
"I don't really think we're going to take business away from the other GNC's in State College, because we're all a team and we work together," Brown says. "But I do think this store is going to be successful."
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