Big Blue Swim School Seeks Prime Real Estate in Boston for Franchise Expansion


BOSTON–Big Blue Swim School, one of the nation’s fastest-growing learn-to-swim franchise brand, has announced it is currently looking for real estate opportunities in the Boston area in order to open nine new franchise locations that will be owned and operated by native Bostonian Gary Cohen.

The Chicago-based brand provides swim lessons for families with children ages three months to 12 years old. Backed by private equity group Level 5 Capital Partners, the brand currently has 201 agreements signed to develop locations across 22 states.

Since opening in 2009, Big Blue Swim School has made its mission to show kids they can do anything by unlocking their full potential in the water and out.

To achieve this though, Big Blue also has to prioritize the needs of parents, which is where the brand’s real estate strategy comes into play. Big Blue does its best to maximize convenience for parents, choosing locations that are in high traffic shopping areas already well-traveled by families.

“It’s imperative to make it easier for moms and dads to bring children to lessons at our locations,” said Scott Sanders, Big Blue’s CEO. “We put a lot of effort into identifying the best locations possible that are in areas where parents already frequent, making sure bringing children to swim lessons is hassle-free.”

Because of the size requirements for its stores, the company targets larger spaces, generally in the 10,000-square-foot range, such as former big-box retail spaces like Pier 1 or Toys”R”Us. As more retailers move online, Big Blue has helped landlords fill these larger vacancies while bringing families into their shopping centers.

“If you’re a landlord with a larger space that’s been vacated, you’re now faced with the likely prospect of dividing and subdividing that space for new tenants,” Big Blue’s president of real estate services Michael Chin said. “We offer that landlord the ability to lease 10,000- or 15,000-square foot spaces or larger to a single tenant, which saves them potentially $500,000 to $1 million in costs of cutting up that space for clients with smaller square footage needs.”

Big Blue uses a data-driven site selection process, which quantifies potential addresses by a number of important criteria. In the Boston area, it’s considering a range of areas like Newton Dedham, Lowell, Methuen, and Braintree among others.

“We’re very excited about the Boston market,” Chin said. “We think we’re bringing more than just a superior swim education experience for children. By carefully planning where our schools are opened, we’re creating value not only for families, but for landlords as well.

Multi-unit franchise opportunities are available for qualified candidates looking for their next big opportunity, and veterans can receive a 10 percent discount on the $80,000 franchise fee. The total investment necessary to begin operation of a new Big Blue Swim School is $2,334,223 to $3,641,998.

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