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Top 5 Reasons Landlords Should Put Big Blue Swim School in Their Shopping Centers

Guaranteed foot traffic for an in-demand recession-resistant service promises decades of visitors.

By 1851 Staff1851 Staff Contributions
SPONSOREDUpdated 12:12PM 05/05/22

As the real estate market evolves, the next big opportunity for commercial landlords is to provide residents with an experiential business that can’t be moved online. One such choice? Adding Big Blue Swim School as a tenant. The growing franchise is turning out to be a real lifesaver for strip malls and vacant real estate.

Big Blue Swim School provides swim lessons for families with children ages three months to 12 years oldThe brand has already signed agreements for 214 units in 24 states across the country, and the franchise aims to have 100 schools open by the end of 2025, positioning the brand as the standout leader in the $3 billion learn-to-swim industry.

All that growth means a lot of new real estate, which is a big opportunity for commercial landlords in markets across the country. Here are five reasons why Big Blue is a great addition to any shopping center.

The franchise attracts an in-demand demographic: moms and dads.

With Big Blue’s under-12 age demographic of beginner swimmers, parents will need to make weekly visits to drive them to lessons. And while their children practice their freestyle, parents may use the opportunity to go shopping, get their nails done, or get a haircut. After the lesson, families can also stop to pick up dinner from one of the nearby restaurants or grocery stores before heading home.

“We’re a very family-oriented shopping center,” said Michael Cohen, director of leasing at   Brookfield Properties. His company is adding Big Blue, scheduled to open this fall, to its property in Pembroke Pines, Florida. “We see Big Blue as an opportunity to expand the children’s offering that will continue to bring people back to the property on a weekly or monthly basis. The more people we can get on the property will eventually lead to more sales and traffic.” 

Blake Dickinson, Continental Realty Corporation’s director of commercial leasing, agrees. His company leases space to a Big Blue in Johns Creek, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. 

“At this point, Big Blue is definitely a name brand we can tout,” he said. “It’s been well-received in the community. It’s family-friendly. And it’s bringing the right demographic - a demographic that really everybody is looking to capture.”

Big Blue generates the right amount of traffic at the right times

Another benefit of adding a Big Blue to a landlord’s tenant roster is that parents schedule lessons throughout the day and throughout the week, typically during off-peak times. The result? A shopping center’s parking lot gets traffic that is evenly distributed, rather than creating congestion at peak times. 

“We bring in a lot of traffic without the typical downsides,” said Michael Chin, Big Blue’s president of real estate services. “We complement existing patterns. For instance, instead of during the lunch hour or during the end-of-week rush, we're typically busier in the front end of the week and in the mornings and evenings. Those times tend to be less busy for shopping centers. So not only are we drawing in a popular demographic to the property, but they also space themselves out during the day.”

Big Blue can fill empty big box retailer spaces.

As online retailers continue to tap into consumer dollars at a faster pace than its brick-and-mortar competitors, the mega-sized big-box storefronts have become a less-attractive bet for retailers. But Big Blue needs the space; it has pools to fill. With an average size starting at 10,000 square feet, Big Blue is looking for a large footprint. 

“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,” 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 can potentially save them $500,000 to $1 million in costs of cutting up that space for clients with smaller square footage needs.”

Swim lessons are a must-have for families, and they can only be delivered in-person.

When it comes to business longevity, swim lessons are a unique service model that can’t be replicated at home or delivered on someone’s doorstep. So as more brick-and-mortar stores close as customers shift to online shopping, there's no option that the business can be moved online.

“With the evolution of e-commerce, shopping centers are increasingly looking for opportunities to include both retail and service-oriented shopping experiences,” Dickinson said. Adding Big Blue to a shopping center creates a more symbiotic and harmonious mix of tenants. 

And despite downturns in the economy, parents care deeply about their children’s safety and swim lessons are a skill parents are always ready to invest in. Especially when the tragic fact is that about 900 children a year drown in the United States. Today’s parents want to find the very best option for their children’s lessons, and they’re turning to highly-trained instructors like those at Big Blue.

Build-outs are a breeze because of Big Blue’s expert team.

Finally, with a professional real estate and construction management team, Big Blue takes the worry from the landlord when it comes to making the capital improvements to the site. 

Dickinson wanted to make sure the construction and engineering teams were completing their jobs efficiently and in a timely manner. He praised the brand’s real estate and the construction management teams for being professional and pragmatic. “You’re putting a whole lot of water in a space,” Dickinson said. “Big Blue was willing to work with us on addressing those types of concerns. Ultimately, they came to the table as a first-class operator.”

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 $2,475,200 to $3,966,700 (refer to item 7 in FDD)"  To learn more or inquire about Big Blue Swim School, visit