Running Insight 12.1.2020

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Defining Today’s Runner20 • Hit Refresh26 • Stay Connected42 • Changing Times46

Plus ... The 99 MUST-HAVE Products for 2021

THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM

DECEMBER 1, 2020

RUNNING TO

2021 Everything run specialty retailers need as they (thankfully) head into a new year.

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inside 6 Our Commitment to Run Specialty

DECEMBER 1, 2020

36 #NowTrending

An open letter from The Running Event Executive Director Christina Henderson

Social media tips and tricks and why it matters more than ever for run specialty. / By Adriana Zeman

8 21 To Watch in 2021

40 Puzzling Times

Turning the page on the calendar brings renewed optimism among running specialty.

Retailers need a plan to thrive post-pandemic. / By Jason Becker and Jimmy Richburg

16 Getting to the Next Level

42 Stay Connected

It is important for retailers to have a strategy for a post-pandemic world. / By Parker Karnan

20 Defining Today’s ‘Runner’

The challenge of keeping in touch with your customer from a (social) distance. / By Ryan Callahan

46 Changing Times

It is vital for retailers to know why their customers run — and shop. / By Leslie Cunningham

26 Hit Refresh

In a year unlike any other, run retailers need to give themselves a break. / By Ritchie Sayner

50 Brand Focus … Pro-Tec Athletics

Retailers need to have updated merchandising when pent-up demand returns. / By Holly Wiese

32 No Surprises

Family-owned business has become a leader in the recovery category as run specialty heads into 2021.

54 99 Must-Have Products for 2021

Small business owners need to be prepared when the tax man cometh in 2021. / By Mark Battersby

26 pages of the Running Insight Editors’ Choices of the Must-Have Products for run specialty retail for 2021.

Cover Photo: Fitly, page 64.

The Staff

4

RUNNING INSIGHT EDITORIAL

RUNNING INSIGHT ADVERTISING

Editor Michael Jacobsen mjacobsen@divcom.com

Publisher Christina Henderson chenderson@divcom.com

Graphic Designer Deborah Page

Daemon Filson dfilson@divcom.com

Contributors Brian Metzler Daniel P. Smith Tom Griffen Judy Leand

Glenn Dulberg gdulberg@divcom.com

runninginsight.com

Mark Sullivan msullivan@divcom.com

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2020 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published twice each month, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email.The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Divesified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500.

Diversified Communications 121 Free St • Portland, ME 04101 1(207) 842-5500 www.divcom.com BACK ISSUES runninginsight.com

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OUR COMMITMENT TO

RUN SPECIALTY To the run specialty community,

By all accounts, it’s been a difficult year. When we all hugged each other goodbye after The Running Event last December, no one was prepared for what this year has brought. It hurts to sit here and write this letter rather than mapping out the TRE trade show floor. When I left The Running Event last year, I thought I had all the respect and love for this industry Christina Henderson Executive Director The Running Event

that one could have. But once again, this community has left me in awe. You’ve rallied around each other, built each other up and shared best practices as we all entered places we’ve never been. Each of you – through this fearful time - has never let up on your mission to support the communities you serve. You are resilient and inspiring. We hope to mirror your support for your communities in our attempts to support you. We are heartbroken that we are unable gather this year, so we are publishing this annual issue at the same time that The Running Event would have brought us all together in Austin, TX. We are marking the occasion by providing you with an editorial alternative to our in-person meetings. Anyone else realize now that they took those for granted? Our team has worked hard throughout this year to serve as the most effective information source for the run specialty business. This issue – and our inaugural Footwear Week event this month – is a continuation of this commitment to run specialty. In these pages you will find page after page of usable, hands-on advice from the industry experts you have come to trust at seminars at The Running Event each year. And since we can’t walk the trade show floor together, our editors have curated the 99 Must-Have New Products for 2021. It is an impressive collection of products that we hope will help drive your sales in 2021. We have many things planned for 2021 and you will continue to hear about them all through our resources. And then we will all meet again – in person – at The Running Event in December, 2021 in Austin, TX. I can’t wait for those tearful embraces. Until then, please stay safe and stay in touch. I miss you all. Christina Executive Director, The Running Event • chenderson@divcom.com

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© 2020 Diversified Communications



Good-Bye 2020 ...

21To Watch

IN 2021 Turning the page on the calendar brings renewed optimism among run specialty.

R

unning retailers – and the world, at large – stand rather ecstatic to turn the page to 2021, hoping the upcoming year delivers positivity and promise after a challenge-plagued 2020. The novel coronavirus altered lives and still, nearly nine months after being declared a global health pandemic, continues hovering over daily life. And yet, run specialty has endured, a wholly unsurprising development given the enterprising spirit, solutions-oriented mindset and hustle that blankets the industry. Heading into 2021, there is reason for optimism and intrigue as run specialty 8

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does what it does best: it forges ahead. Running Insight explores 21 of the more compelling topics as a new year approaches.

1

Running Retail’s Resiliency. The invasion of the novel coronavirus brought unprecedented challenges to American society. The pandemic forced many running retailers to temporarily close their stores, halted group events and thrashed normalcy. Retailers responded in earnest by pivoting to new sources of revenue generation and finding novel ways to

© 2020 Diversified Communications


serve and engage customers. In the Running Industry Association’s (RIA) August 2020 survey, 96 percent of retailers felt confident their business would remain viable based on the current situation and projected sales. By and large, run specialty weathered the storm and running retailers should enter 2021 with solid confidence that they can – and will – adapt and flex to market forces, which is important as uncertainty persists.

2

The Slow Return of Group Events. Fun runs and local races have long fueled the run specialty business, enabling run shops an energized, social way to connect with customers. While such events have slowly returned to areas across the U.S., they are far off pre-pandemic levels. Lacking such deepseated opportunities, how will running stores keep customers engaged, motivated and excited about what they can offer? Many retailers have doubled down on social media, especially video, while others have embraced virtual races and online challenges. Such creativity will be paramount as races, fun runs and other group events only crawl back.

3

Carbon Plated Footwear and Beyond. Carbon-plated footwear was not invented in 2020, but it certainly made deeper inroads into

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5 Hiking. According to Yelp, interest in hiking climbed 116 percent during the pandemic, many embracing the trails to boost mental health and escape their houses. Established

the market during the Year of COVID-19. A plethora of exciting new models hit the market in 2020, including the Endorphin Pro from Saucony and New Balance’s FuelCell RC Elite. Updates of existing carbon-plated models such as the Hoka One One Carbon X2 (in photo above) dropping on January 1 and new offerings such as the upcoming Flame from 361 Degrees add to this groundbreaking category’s momentum. In the meantime, brands have begun playing with other propulsive plate materials. Under Armour’s Machina, released in February, uses a Pebax speed plate inspired by sprint spikes, while Mizuno has teased an upcoming model that utilizes a glass fiber-reinforced nylon plate. Such spirited innovations have galvanized run specialty, empowering the “two-shoe talk” with customers, providing stores something fresh to promote and boosting topline revenue. The promise

of continued developments in this footwear category should undoubtedly delight run shops.

4

Rocker Bottom Shoes. Conventional platforms still rule the day in performance running footwear, but differentiated stories continue gaining attention, perhaps no more so than rocker-bottom shoes. Hoka has embraced rocker soles, as have ASICS and Saucony, while MBT, the self-professed creator of the category way back in 1996, is getting serious about running – its unlikeany-other-MBT Huracan model dropped in November 2020 – after building its health and wellness cred in other footwear categories. Rocker shoes once got a bad rap, but a plethora of science continues to support the design’s health and performance benefits, which offers run specialty shops an opportunity to confidently introduce and discuss the

run specialty brands like On, Altra and inov-8 (in photo) have enticing product to help retailers service this crowd. All businesses grow by either selling more to existing customers or cultivating new ones. A calculated and curated assortment of select hiking product combined with some thoughtful, strategic promotion could help run shops make inroads into a growing category.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


21 for 2021 (continued) unique construction and its distinctive feel.

6

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Being Woke. Throughout 2020, equality, equity and inclusion emerged as popular terms in the running world as events such as the killing of runner Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and charges of discrimination, racism and gender bias against the New York Road Runners urged reflection and spurred honest, if uncomfortable, conversations. Now active movements such as the newly formed Running Industry Diversity Coalition aim to inspire (and see) tangible change.

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Consumer Shopping Preferences. Once a upon a time, a customer walked into a run shop, found the goods they wanted, paid and left. That was the only available shopping experience. Today, and certainly supercharged by the pandemic, running stores fulfill orders for curbside pickup, sameday local delivery, mail and BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store). As time-starved consumers juggle work-andhome demands or profess concerns about visiting physical storefronts, the convenience and ease of varied shopping methods, including defined in-store appointment times, will be key to run shops’ viability and competitiveness in a fast-changing retail landscape.

8

Virtual Races 2.0. Out of necessity, virtual races became commonplace in 2020. Yet, such events lost some luster as the pandemic wore on. Noting this – and given the uncertainty surrounding “traditional” racing’s return – race organizers employed inventive strategies to blend the real and virtual worlds. The Richmond Marathon and its sister Half Marathon and 8K, for instance, moved from a virtual race to a transponder-timed competition on a USATF-certified course. Over 18 days in November, participants could run the course that

used a 13-mile stretch of the Virginia Capital Trail and then confirm completion on the RaceJoy app. How else can race organizers enliven the virtual race experience? The creativity of this niche market warrants attention.

9

Large-Scale Events. Marquee marathon events in U.S. cities like Boston, Chicago and New York place running front and center for the masses, spur training groups and inspire bucket lists. In 2020, neither Boston, Chicago nor New York went off as planned — other prominent events such as the Beach to Beacon 10K and Boilermaker 15K were cancelled as well. In August, organizers of the Big Sur International Marathon called off all in-person running events through 2021, while the Boston Athletic Association announced in October that the 125th Boston Marathon would be postponed until at least Fall 2021. Race directors largely recognize that

large-scale events will be the last to come back on board. How these events operate and how running retailers respond will be an important story in 2021.

10

$100 Running Shoes. While a segment of consumers shows a hearty appetite for premium performance running footwear (Hello, carbon fiber!), others bemoan the everescalating prices of running shoes with a potential economic dip threatening to enlarge that chorus. New Balance and ASICS have some trusted options at the increasingly rare $100 price point in the Propel v2 and GT-1000, respectively, while Brooks has three $100 styles – the Launch 8, the Launch GTS 8 and the brand new Trace (photo below) – dropping in the first quarter of 2021. Though $100 footwear slices running stores’ dollar margin, having a few compelling options on hand enables run shops to serve

© 2020 Diversified Communications


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21 for 2021 (continued)

11 12

cost-sensitive customers and keep them from walking out the door empty handed.

Coronavirus-driven categories. COVID-19 ignited new product categories, while invigorating established product categories. Masks and facial coverings became an entirely new revenue stream – and arguably the biggest marketing opportunity for those with a promotional slant – while existing categories like hydration and home care, including PT tools and the relatively nascent market of massage guns, caught fire. The COVID-fallout has provided run shops an opportunity to promote and educate consumers about products beyond footwear and apparel. Retailers with an open mind toward problemsolving products and a willingness to reposition the way they discuss existing products stand to gain.

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Omnichannel Sophistication. According to RIA data, only 27 percent of run shops had an omnichannel solution in February 2020. By July, 91 percent either had e-commerce up and running or were in the process of doing so. Largely in the interest of survival, run shops rolled out online stores amid the pandemic. Now, how will stores take the next step and leverage e-commerce to grow their overall business? One way: more sophisticated marketing services. From personalized (and automated) messages to A-B testing, there is an elevated way retailers can leverage omnichannel solutions to drive business, especially in a world in which faceto-face interactions are so different. Offerings such as Upper Quadrant, Drive, Fitted, Run Free Project and KAMRUN promise help in this area, aiming to transform rather static online stores into a more productive omnichannel ecosystem.

13

Alternatives To In-store Fittings. As concerns over COVID-19 linger, many shoppers remain wary of visiting physical storefronts. According to a Fall 2020 survey from Morning Consult, 68 percent of consumers express concern about their health and safety

while shopping. This heightens the need for flexible service models, including alternatives to time-involved in-store shoe fittings. During the pandemic, many running stores turned to virtual fittings and/or home visits to accommodate leery shoppers. Others installed exclusive store hours for atrisk groups such as seniors or set time limits on shoe fittings. How run shops continue to evolve in this core competency area – the sitand-fit experience – will be important to top-line revenue as coronavirus shopping concerns persist.

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Elite Racing Teams. In 2020, On, Hoka and Under Armour introduced their own elite racing teams. The investment represents an important punch in the arm for the sport, providing talented hopefuls more opportunity for development and opening the door

for more distance runners to advance the sport and emerge as role models for the next generation of runners, especially in an Olympic year.

15

The “Comforts” of Remote Work. Americans are working from home more than ever. A whopping 42 percent of the U.S. labor force is now working from home full time, according to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. What’s that mean for run shops? An opportunity to tout versatile, comfortable apparel, for one. According to a study from Cotton Inc., nearly two-thirds of consumers are wearing more casual apparel and activewear these days. Running stores have the goods to offer and some might adjust marketing efforts – and perhaps even purchasing – to spotlight apparel that is as © 2020 Diversified Communications


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21 for 2021 (continued) cozy on a morning run as a mid-day Zoom call or latenight Netflix binge.

16 17

The Rise of Shoe Culture. Instagram has poured jet fuel on shoe culture and though the sneakerheads are often most concerned with retro Air Jordans, YEEZYs and the like, running brands have no doubt leaned into shoe culture. With special edition offerings and uber-distinctive colorways of popular performance run models, running stores have a unique opportunity to tap into shoe culture and share stories beyond performance characteristics.

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Sustainability Stories. Consumer interest in sustainable products is accelerating – and not only in some enlightened survey responses that fail to equate with spending. According to Nielsen, sales of sustainable products in the U.S. have shown consistent year-over-year growth and are projected to reach $150 billion in 2021. Running brands have jumped into the fray here: Reebok’s Forever Floatride GROW is a performance running shoe constructed from castor beans, eucalyptus bark and bloom algae; the wave plate in the current Mizuno Wave Rider 24 is comprised of a sustainable, bio-based polymer derived from castor beans; and Rabbit’s recently unveiled Swish jacket is made from a bio-based polyester that uses recycled coffee grounds. In early 2021, meanwhile, Salomon will unveil the Index.01, a recyclable running shoe. The growing appearance of eco-friendly products offers run shops an opportunity to share new stories with customers — and on a topic many deem important.

18

Buy Now, Pay Later. An increasing number of brands and retailers, including mainstream operations like Macy’s, have

been adding “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) as a payment option, a move to appeal to young shoppers looking to finance their purchases. YPulse found that nearly one in four 13-39-yearolds have already used BNPL payment installment services, while Kaleido Intelligence forecasts that BNPL will become a $680 billion market by 2025. Could this novel, yet ascendant payment model make inroads in the run specialty channel? “One of the best things a retailer can do is give payment options to consumers to make their purchases as seamless and easy as possible,” contends Afterpay North American executive Melissa Davis.

19

Stores on the Move. It’s not uncommon for run

shops to relocate. Pandemic fallout in the commercial real estate market, however, could put more stores on the move than ever before. After years of landlords calling the shots, many industry analysts see the pendulum swinging fast toward tenants. For some running retailers, the draw of better locations and/or more favorable terms might be too good to pass up and fuel relocation — or at the

least simply provide the necessary ammunition to renegotiate existing deals.

20

Track and Field’s Fate. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, prep cross-country went off as planned in 25 states this fall, while 19 others modified their seasons and seven, including Washington, D.C., had no fall competition. Heading into 2021, the fate of indoor track and field is precarious, while the continued charge of COVID-19 leaves some outdoor seasons up in the air or facing a jumbled sports calendar that threatens participation numbers. The decisions made by state high school associations will hit run specialty, impacting areas such as purchasing, inventory management, marketing and, most certainly, the bottom line.

21

The Tokyo Olympics. Moved from 2020, the Olympics are slated to begin in Tokyo in late July. The Summer Olympics have historically placed running on a grand stage and cultivated heroes, such as Billy Mills, Joan Benoit, Flo-Jo and Usain Bolt. Here’s hoping the Olympics proceed as planned and inject energy into the sport — and inspired traffic into running retail. n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


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GETTING TO

THE NEXT LEVEL It is important for retailers to have a strategy for a post-pandemic world. / By Parker Karnan

I

am convinced that we will come out of 2020 stronger as an industry — and that we will look back on this unprecedented period as a time that launched us to the next level. However, optimism is not a strategy. The reason for my optimism and the strategy is what follows. Next Level Objectives for 2021 1. Establish Marketing as a core competency for specialty run 2. Enhance Omnichannel sales as a seamless business practice 3. Continue development of store team leadership Marketing as core competency Among the five business disciplines of Sales, Marketing, Product, Operations and Finance, specialty running stores have traditionally had the least sophistication in marketing. Why? Because event-driven marketing has effectively grown store business for three decades. We know how to grow sales through events. It’s a natural fit for us. Without events in 2020, however, stores have found new ways to communicate. Many have dedicated more employee hours to marketing and have explored the use of new tools provided by companies like Upper Quadrant, Drive or the Karnan Associates marketing suite called KAMRUN. By necessity, stores shifted attention to enhanced marketing methods that can pay dividends down the road.

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With no large events to drive marketing in 2020-21, run retailers need to get more sophisticated with their outreach to a pandemic-distanced clientele. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash.

We can begin recruiting employees for marketing expertise, dedicate more hours to the discipline and raise our external communication to the same levels of personalization that we have created within our showrooms.

Specialty stores need to own personalization because relationships and community building are what differentiate your business from Dick’s and Amazon. Specialty cannot outconvenience or out-price larger format

© 2020 Diversified Communications


MAKE LIGHT OF LONG RUNS.


The Next Level (continued) One blessing of 2020 – yes, there is at least one – is that running stores now sell online. Running stores with e-commerce sites jumped from three in 10 in February to nine in 10 by July.

stores. You can out-serve and out-personalize them. Seamless Omnichannel Sales One blessing of 2020 is that running stores now sell online. According to an RIA dealer survey, running stores with e-commerce sites jumped from three in 10 in February to nine

in 10 by July among members. Thanks to specialty run focused e-commerce platforms such as Fitted and the Run Free Project, store owners found turnkey solutions that catered to their business. In April and May online sales accounted for up to 40 percent of sales for those stores that got online early, but have dropped to 1.5 percent of sales in August and September as traffic patterns reverted to status quo. It’s easy to think of a seamless transactional experience between online and B&M as a convenience strategy— and it is for our large format competition. But for specialty run it’s a service strategy that will allow us

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to interact with the customer on their terms without sacrificing the quality of the interaction. The recipe is one-part tech, one-part personnel investment, one-part digital expertise and one-part care. It’s time to put it all together in 2021. Leadership Development Next-level businesses require next-level people and creating a career pathway for talent is a continued emphasis for running retail. If you discover someone who is humble hungry and smart, a lifelong learner and loves the running industry, find a way to keep them. A thriving wage matters, but just as important is a trajectory. Providing visibility on where they can go with you and what they will learn along the way attracts people with these attributes. If you are a smaller business with limited leadership roles, invest in continued education and polish your talent. If employees feel they are developing on your team, they are more likely to stay. When it comes to wages, invest in output. The revenue per hour specialty best practice on the sales floor is $150/hour per employee. A superstar staff can flex to $200/hour on a busy day. If three can do the work of four, you can afford to pay them 25 percent more and your payroll budget remains intact. Finding next-level people requires you to know what you want. Write specific job descriptions for positions you need and post jobs that combine sales floor hours with these desired skill sets (marketing, apparel

If you are a smaller business with limited leadership roles, invest in continued education and polish your talent. If employees feel they are developing on your team, they are more likely to stay. buying, event planning). A job posting for an apparel product line manager who also merchandises and works the floor attracts a different candidate than a posting for a part-time associate. We’ve weathered a lot this year as an industry and our resourcefulness put us in great position for 2021. Paul Epstein, owner of Running Wild in Pensacola, recently said to me, “Before I felt like I was missing key pieces to the puzzle. Now I have all the pieces and I just need to put the puzzle together.” Paul, I’m quoting you because I couldn’t say it any better. Here’s to our industry and taking it to the next level in 2021. n Parker Karnan, founder of Karnan Associates has worked in Run Specialty for 29 years, first as a rep, then as an executive with Brooks, and for the last 14 with Karnan Associates. The Karnan Associates team brings over 100 years of combined running industry experience and works alongside their clients to help them grow and profit in a rapidly changing retail landscape. Run Great. parker@karnanassocaites.com www.karnanassociates.com

© 2020 Diversified Communications


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DEFINING TODAY’S

‘RUNNER’

It is vital for retailers to know why their customers run — and shop. / By Leslie Cunningham

Understanding the different motiviations of the modern runner is vital for run specialty in 2021.

I

am not a runner … but I run. I seem to lead with this phrase when I am in the midst of people who work in the running industry. The phrase is something I have heard repeatedly from friends who I consider to be runners, so of course it stuck. When a thought is repeated it becomes a belief. Fast forward to last month, Dan and I were working with RRRC. We were in the midst of rewriting their vision statement and I blindly proclaimed, “I am not a runner,” to which Dan laughed 20

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and began to list all of the running I had done in my life. Mark Jimenez, owner of RRRC was firm, “You are a runner! Everybody is a runner … if you can move your feet.” That is his belief, not mine. I declined the statement and what happened next set the tone for my quest. Mark asked, “If you run, but aren’t a runner, what are you?” Since I am a person who challenges belief systems, to have someone challenge my own words jolted me. So, we decided to do a survey:

1. What does or why does the statement, belief, cult-like rebellion mean? 2. How does RRRC, which has running in its company name, create a meaningful vision for the greater Las Vegas area if most of their clients don’t believe they run? The survey was very popular, with over 200 responses from various market segments. The results were just what I needed to shift my perspective and create new thoughts around running. We combined about 10 questions that looked at a lot of different data that we won’t get into here. (If you do want more information, please email me at lcunningham@manngroup.net.) When answering the question,“If you run, what are you if not a runner?” more than 75 percent of the answers identified as the roles these runners play in their lives. For example: “I am a dog mom,” “just me,” “a human being,” “health conscious,” “an adventurer,” “a walker,” “a wife,” “a husband,” “a dad.” You get the idea. Or at least I get it now. I am not a runner, because I am not consistent, fast, competitive. I do not run over three miles daily or 20 miles a week. I am not a runner because I am not fit, thin, graceful or fast. But I run —there I said it. Running makes me feel good. I love taking care of my body. It is an easy way to leave the house and go for a run. My dog loves to run. My brain slows down. Running is free therapy.

© 2020 Diversified Communications



Defining Today’s ‘Runner’ (continued) Being a runner is perceived as this is the only thing you do. Running is your life. But running is not life for the majority of the population. And the contrary proved different for most people who run that are not runners; running gives them life.

So, if this is the way the majority of our clients believe, then our job is to understand their belief and begin to break down that limiting belief so we can create more meaningful connections to running.

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Once we understand our clients’ viewpoints, it impacts our delivery out to the world, in social media and in our stores with how we sell. Not to mention the products we buy. Being a runner is perceived as this is the only thing you do. Running is your life. But running is not life for the majority of the population. And the contrary proved different for most people who run that are not runners; running gives them life. So what does this have to do with you? Here are five tips: 1. Constantly review your social media language. Are you posting from your point

of view or your clients’? 2. Be sure your newsletter is inclusive for all the runners and non-runners who run. 3. Make sure you’re monitoring your sales staff language daily that is assumptive language. 4. Hire non-running runners. 5. Buy for the entire running community. Be inclusive. One More Thing If all else fails, take a field trip to the nearest park and watch children run. They don’t run for any reason other than just having fun. That’s it for now. I guess I will go put on my running shoes and go move my feet, because I am a runner. n

About the author Leslie Cunningham is a master of maintaining relationships at The Mann Group. As a function of her role as Chief Connections Officer she is creating awareness within in the independent specialty retailers and manufacturers of how important knowing yourself as a leader and how that relates to the success of leading an organization. Today, her work with the Mann Group is giving her new opportunities to reconnect with her passion to remind retailers who they are, why they got into their own business in the first place and how to expand. To contact her: Lcunnigham@manngroup.net

© 2020 Diversified Communications


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HIT REFRESH

Retailers need to have updated merchandising when pent-up demand returns. / By Holly Wiese

F

or almost everybody in run specialty, it’s been all about survival these past eight months. Hand sanitizer, masks, rules, social distancing, new guidelines, stress, keeping everybody safe … everyone knows the drill. By now, we’ve all adapted as best we can to this “new” way of co-existing with a pandemic. It’s been exhausting at best and downright debilitating for some. But we’re all hopeful that once we push our way through winter, we may stand a chance at, dare I say, returning to some sort of normalcy as to how we can operate our business safely once again in the spring. Everyone is experiencing some version of pandemic fatigue. People are ready to shop again, try on clothing, interact with local business owners and treat themselves to something new. And when we get through the doldrums of winter, your customers will be ready to see something new. Have you thought about what you can do to freshen things up in your shop, excite your customers and welcome them back in to a freshlooking environment? And with this new environment, how can you continue to merchandise your product and space with safety and distancing in mind? I’ve put together some ideas that don’t cost much (if anything), but can put a fresh spin on your presentations and product merchandising. The Apparel Challenge Let’s start with apparel. It was a tricky category for most before the pandemic and since COVID-19 hit it’s gone downright down the tubes for many. But based on my market research, people are getting itchy. New seasons bring new goals, new 26

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A segmented shoe wall at The Running Well Store, MIssion, KS.

workouts and new inspiration. All of these things are more fun to tackle with new clothing, so let’s make it easy for customers to grab something fresh to hit the ground running (pun intended). Our goal is to make it impossible for them to resist that add-on apparel sale when they come in for new shoes. The next time you walk into your store, look over at the apparel section as if you’re a new customer and ask yourself how many pre-selected outfits you can see immediately upon entering. Do you have them in your windows on mannequins? In the entry way as soon as you open the door? How about a focal point table in the threshold with mannequins and accessories? These are teasers that grab their

attention and start the wheels turning. Next, as your customers approach the footwear area, is there another opportunity for them to see cute new outfits on mannequins? Apparel is typically bought on emotion and rarely pre-determined prior to entering the store. So in order to get your customers excited about a new outfit, they have to see how it can look on somebody so they can get excited about putting it on themselves. Now as they enter your apparel section, let’s break down your display. Is it an old, stale presentation that simply has new clothing swapped in for the old stuff? If so, pull all fixtures off the wall and challenge yourself to re-position things and to incorporate male and female torso forms in your display.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


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Hit Refresh (continued)

A magnetic display wall at Fleet Feet Flagship store in Carborro, NC.

Then, ask yourself how much stock you have. If your walls are flooded with similar shorts, boring tees and too much of the same product, pull half of it off the floor and move it to backstock so you can create better displays with less product for your customers to shop. This is both safer from a COVID standpoint and quicker from a shopping standpoint. Create a focal point male and female display using mannequins in colorful outfits and then place all the styles needed to create the outfits right next to them for customers to grab. The idea here is to curate several key outfits for men and women, have the product right there for quick shopping and remove all of the extra product clutter. People want to get in and out very quickly (both due to busy schedules and to COVID), 28

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so the thought of thumbing through crowded racks of similar products to find that one short or top is overwhelming and unappealing to customers now more than ever. In addition to the feature mannequin concept, consider large magnet walls to display unique apparel combinations, drawing shoppers’ attention and, again, making it easy to grab ’n go. This approach to simple merchandising creates an “Instagram type” experience for your customers to quickly get a snapshot of a great outfit. Are you starting to sense a pattern here? New Life for Footwear Moving to your footwear displays — when is the last time you’ve shed some new life into them? Have you assessed how your categories

are merchandised on your wall recently? Have you considered integrating some inspiring graphics or light boxes into the displays to break up an otherwise boring wall of shoes? Heck, have you backed up and considered removing the traditional wall completely and moving to a cable system or other non-wall-based footwear display to create some new excitement around the styles? There are a million ways to approach the challenge of effectively presenting shoes, but at the end of the day the most impactful displays are those that have clean, logical breaking points between the categories so the shoes don’t just blur from one row of product to another. Remember to curate your displays. Make it easier for your customers and get them excited about what they’re seeing instead of overwhelmed. Give the shoes breathing space on the wall, call out the categories and create interest in the displays. Most specialty run experiences involve a trained employee selecting the style that is best aligned with the customer’s needs, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want them to be excited about the offering and drawn in to the display. The more engaged and excited they are about your presentation, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Don’t overlook the impact you can have on your shoe wall by integrating a torso form on a shelf with coordinating shoes and accessories as well as double merchandising apparel,

socks or add-on items on the wall. It helps break up the shoes and reminds shoppers of all the other great products you’ve got besides footwear. The same advice is pertinent for streamlining inventory in this category. Less shoes on the wall, while still offering enough to cover all of your customers’ needs, equates to better merchandising, easier shopping and less hassle for the buyers and staff. Accessorize, Accessorize Finally, it wouldn’t be prudent to skip accessories, one of the toughest categories to merchandise nicely in a store. When you break it down, this department doesn’t have to be such a challenge, but the most common mistake is simply too much product on the floor at once. Too many of even the highest end items end up looking like a bunch of tchotchkes when stuffed on an overcrowded peg or rack. You’re likely sick of hearing this by now, but do the work for your customers. You’re the expert, so pick the “good, better and best” option in each key category and dump the rest. We have had great success with placing “staff pick” signs on favorite accessories and customers really connect with this concept after being trained by wine and book shops. Some simple but reliable rules of thumb for displaying accessories well are: • Larger items such as hydration packs and trail running vests work best on walls, while smaller items such as © 2020 Diversified Communications


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Hit Refresh (continued)

The front entryway focal point display at the Fleet Feet Flagship store.

hand-helds and lights get lost on large walls and look much better on floor fixtures. • On both walls and floor

fixtures, put larger items on the bottom and gradually decrease in size as you get near the top. • Merchandise in clean

straight rows and columns whenever possible; it always makes product look better. As you continue to develop ideas for freshening up your space as your customers return, think about keeping it simple. Simple product assortment and simple displays equate to easy shopping for your customers. This ease of shopping means less time searching for things in your store, more sales and, most importantly, happier guests. Having happy customers through all of this is the biggest win we can have. Remember that a positive experience goes a long way right now and people are quick to share their positive shopping stories with friends. n

About the author Holly Wiese has more than 25 years of experience in the field of visual merchandising and retail design, including in the specialty running sector. She is a frequent speaker at The Running Event and has been a keynote speaker at a number of sportswear industry and merchandising events. In her spare time, Holly can be found riding her bike across the country, trail running around her Boulder, CO, home or preparing for the World Guacamole Championships that she has hosted for over 13 years. She can be reached at: holly@3dotsdesign.com; www.3dotsdesign.com

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NO SURPRISES Be prepared when the tax man cometh in 2021. / By Mark Battersby

A

s tax season rolls around, it will likely be a particularly difficult time for many run specialty retailers as, bad year or not, they could face a number of tax surprises. While the government has employed a number of programs designed to help struggling businesses cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, a potentially expensive surprise may be awaiting many of those who reaped and, perhaps, continue to reap the benefits of these programs — a unexpected tax bill. The Payroll Tax Deferral Scheme One such potential problem area involves the President’s August Executive Order that allowed employees to skip paying their share of the 6.2 percent Social Security tax normally applying to the first $137,700 (for 2020) of their annual wages. The grace period was scheduled to last from September 1 through the end of 2020 with deferral generally available to an employee earning $4000 every two weeks or about $104,000 for the year. The economic stimulus program passed in March as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act had already authorized a Social Security tax deferral for employers for the balance of 2020. Under the CARES Act, a run specialty retailer can pay back 50 percent of the amount of payroll taxes due by the end of 2021 and the remaining 50 percent by the end of 2022. It should be kept in mind, however, that both of these programs are only “deferrals,” not a complete waiver. Although the Treasury Department and lawmakers are reportedly exploring forgiveness of these 32

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Retailers who took advantage of government programs in 2020 need to be aware of the tax man. Photo: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

amounts, both voluntary plans illustrate the current payback requirement and the unexpected tax bill that awaits. Despite recent legislation allowing employers to temporarily defer payment of payroll taxes, the business – or a “responsible party” – is still ultimately responsible for meeting these obligations. If payroll taxes aren’t remitted to the IRS in time, the responsible party may be held personally responsible for the full amount of the so-called “trust fund penalty.” That’s right, in other words, an owner, manager or the person handling the operation’s finances could be required to pay the IRS an amount equal to 100 percent of the shortfall out of their own pocket. The PPP Tax Glitch As mentioned, in August the President’s Executive Order allowed employers to defer employees’ payroll taxes from

September 1 through December 31, 2020. However, the loan forgiveness rules of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) require at least 60 percent of those funds must be used for payroll costs. The program’s design was simple — use local banks to provide loans to smaller employers during the shutdown. If the employers used the money to keep workers employed and for other necessary expenses, their loans could be forgiven and tax-free. Unfortunately, recent IRS and Treasury policies deny borrowers a tax deduction for many of the same expenses that qualified them for the loan forgiveness. EIDL Loans and Grants A number of run specialty retailers and storefront businesses took out Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help pay expenses during the recent

© 2020 Diversified Communications


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No Surprises (continued) While the government has employed a number of programs designed to help struggling businesses cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, a potentially expensive surprise may be awaiting many of those who reaped and the benefits. disruptions. A business applying for an EIDL was eligible to receive a grant of up to $10,000 from the SBA after applying for an EIDL loan. These grants do not need to be repaid under any circumstances, even if the retailer was subsequently denied an EIDL. Although the cash advances are most likely not taxable because they seemingly fall under the tax law’s “general welfare exception,” the expenses offset or covered by those cash advances cannot be claimed as a tax deduction. While grants to small businesses appear to fit under the general welfare doctrine, the IRS has, in the past, ruled business grants generally do not qualify for the general welfare exclusion because they are not based upon individual or family needs. Congress, for its part, recently changed the tax law to make it clear that any contribution by a government entity to a corporation is taxable. Recapturing Excess Employment Tax Credits The IRS has issued regulations to reconcile advance payments of ref undable 34

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employment tax credits and to recapture these credits when necessary. The regulations authorize the assessment of erroneous refunds of the credits paid under both the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act. Many employers received advance payment of these credits up to the total allowable amounts using IRS’ Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19. Employers were required to reconcile any advance payments claimed with the total credits claimed and total taxes due on their employment tax returns. However, any refund of these credits paid to a taxpayer that exceeded the amount the taxpayer should have been allowed is labeled as an “erroneous refund” for which the IRS is required to seek repayment. On The Plus Side Those IRAs used by so many independent contractors, run specialty retailers and other small business owners recently learned they could borrow $100,000 from their IRA and pay it back three years later with no tax consequences. That’s right, IRA owners who are adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic will be eligible to take tax-favored distributions from their IRAs. In effect, the new policy allows an IRA owner to borrow up to $100,000 from their IRA and recontribute (repay) the amount any time up to three years later with no federal income tax consequences. There are no restrictions on what the withdrawals can be used for during that three-year

period. And, best of all, they do not have to pay the 10 percent additional early distribution tax. A Different Tax Treatment The income and losses of many run specialty retailers operating as so-called “passthrough” entities such as S corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships, flow through to the owner’s personal income tax return. The losses may or may not be deductible, but the income is reportable. Fortunately, the owners of pass-through entities can deduct 20 percent of qualified business income when calculating their taxes — but it is not automatic. After all, the law limits the deduction for certain “service” businesses, such as legal, medical or accounting practices, where taxable income exceeds $321,000 for joint filers ($160,700) for single filers). Owners of service businesses with taxable income in excess of $421,000 for joint filers ($210,700 for single filers) get no deduction. Although the pass-through deduction and limits are only temporary, consideration might be given to changing the running retail operation’s tax status from a pass-through business to a regular corporation. While pass-through entities may offer advantages, don’t forget the 2017 TCJA reduced income tax rates from 35 percent to a flat 21 percent for all regular corporations. Utilizing Those Losses Don’t forget that there is now a five-year carryback for net operating losses (NOLs)

A number of run specialty retailers and storefront businesses took out Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help pay expenses during the recent disruptions. These grants do not need to be repaid under any circumstances. arising not only in 2020 but also in 2018 and 2019. While the five-year carryback is providing a welcome injection of liquidity for many run specialty retailers suffering the impact of the pandemic, the relief, unfortunately, is only temporary. NOLs arising after 2020 do not have a carryback period and can only be carried forward to offset future taxable income. Of course, an unlimited carryforward period continues to apply to all post-2017 NOLs. The Tax Complexities This is just a small taste of the tax complexities and considerations every run specialty retailer could, potentially, face as governments at almost every level continue taking steps to lessen the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. While tax concerns may not be a priority now, considering the possible tax ramifications of these and other programs can ensure the financial survival of the business later. Of course, qualified professional assistance is also strongly recommended. n © 2020 Diversified Communications


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#NOWTRENDING

Social media tips and tricks and why it matters more than ever for run specialty. / By Adriana Zeman

T

his has been the year of social media and from a marketing standpoint the importance and effectiveness of the channel in reaching consumers is no longer a question. As the world as we normally experienced it changed abruptly in March, and as social distancing took hold globally, social media platforms became the virtual town square, with usage increasing by more than 30 percent back in March alone. Why? Because during the days of the strictest quarantines it was one of the few ways for brands and run retailers to reach consumers. From a consumer standpoint we saw that traffic continued to rise over the spring and into the summer. Social media ad dollars have been increasingly effective as digital ad rates dropped and audiences grew. The impact to run specialty was no different — we saw that use stay consistently high across our entire retailer base.

A really effective way to build relationships with your customers is to connect with them in personal ways. “Boosted” posts are a specific type of paid ad where you can take your top-performing organic posts and turn them into paid ads. This allows you to create a personal connection with potential customers and bring them into the purchase funnel. 2. Follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to content. Only 20 percent of your content should be self-promotional or sales-focused and the remaining 80 percent should be inspirational or educational. By offsetting promotional content with posts that an audience finds useful or relevant, your business is much more likely to gain trust with customers. Holiday and seasonally relevant content can be shared year round. 3. Create content for the full path

to purchase. Consumers go through a journey before they ever get to a transaction and it’s important to support them as they go through each phase. You “earn” the right to sell to them as you lead them down the funnel. • Top of funnel content is inspirational and helps to build an emotional connection with customers. • Middle of funnel content is educational and can be anything that facilitates learning or the acquisition of knowledge. It can be informational or instructional in nature and uses tools like storytelling, discussion, teaching, training and directed research. • Finally, bottom of funnel content is the promotional, product-focused content that should be used strategically. Customer Loyalty is the result of meeting needs across multiple touchpoints and

Following Best Practices Given the increasing importance and impact of social media in connecting with consumers, understanding the trends and best practices is critical for run specialty retailers. When working with our brand partners and our network of retailers, we focus on a few best practices. 1. A Hybrid Social Media Strategy A hybrid strategy uses owned, earned and paid media, where each is used to establish a relationship with consumers in different ways. For social, we look at a hybrid strategy as incorporatong organic content, traditional paid and then boosting of top organic content. Traditional paid is used to build demand and attract new customers. Organic posts are used to build community, listen to customers and learn from them and to really engage and build a relationship with existing customers. 36

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© 2020 Diversified Communications



#nowtrending (continued) such as Shaw and Karndean to Nike and Bolle. Throughout this year, we’ve seen these best practices become even more important. During the early days of quarantine, using interactive tools, videos and using strong calls to action to engage consumers helped brands and retailers stand out and connect with their communities. No matter where on the funnel you’re focusing your content creation, we always suggest to use this framework as you begin creating content: 1. Determine your content goal 2. Pick your content theme 3. Select the right media and develop the content

achieving both an emotional and functional connection based on trust. Communities Re-Open, Social Media Grows All of this is even more important today. Even as communities have re-opened, online time has not been reduced and consumers now say they expect to continue to shop online, even in a postpandemic world. Consumers are even more aware and targeted in their purchases, meaning there’s more 38

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targeted shopping versus browsing. Research has shown that browsing plays an important part in the purchase process, fueling consumer imagination. With 87 percent of consumers beginning their searches through digital channels, there’s a new opportunity to bring the browsing experience online with AR tools that help to bridge the virtual and real life. We have seen increasing interest and application of AR tools in every vertical from home and flooring to footwear and outdoor — from brands

Step 1: Determine your content goal. It sounds obvious, but what we really mean is to make sure the words you use drive the activity that you want — and that both can be measured. We use the content creation framework and campaign planning guide (at left) to match goals with KPIs or key performance metrics. Step 2: Pick your content theme. The theme is important because it will help you define your tone — How do you want to say what you want to say and what kind of imagery would be best? Step 3: Select the right media and develop content. What’s the best media to use? Is this a video, an image or a GIF or just a textual graphic? The Running Connection What’s been trending with

Customer loyalty is the result of meeting needs across multiple touchpoints and achieving both an emotional and functional connection based on trust. All of this is even more important today. Even as communities have re-opened, online time has not been reduced and consumers now say they expect to continue to shop online. run specialty consumers and what can we learn? Not surprisingly, one of the top campaigns from 2020 was focused on running safety in the current environment. As more runners were hitting the road, and as former runners became current runners, we saw retailers personalize and use this content to connect with their audiences — to share information about store openings and new store protocols. We also saw a big trend towards motivation and driving engagement. A whimsical campaign around “Would you rather” inspired runners to connect with each other and create communities. As we head back into an off-season, it’s increasingly important to stay connected with your customers and communities. There were so many great examples from retailers and brands this spring that inspired communities — sharing their favorite athome workouts, their favorite trails for running and even new digital tools for virtual, remote events. n © 2020 Diversified Communications


T


PUZZLING TIMES Retailers need a plan to thrive post-pandemic. / By Jason Becker and Jimmy Richburg

H

ave you ever worked a 10,000 piece puzzle? Imagine all of those pieces spread out on your table. Where do you start? How do you start? You probably have these questions about how to thrive coming out of the COVID-19 retail challenges.

daily, weekly and monthly to understand what inventory is moving. 2. Invest in e-Commerce: We expect e-commerce growth trends to extend well past COVID-19.

Here’s how we recommend you start:

3. Reward Loyal Customers: Use frequent buyer incentives to support customers who support you.

1. Control Inventory: Regularly review sales performance and inventory on-hand reports

You can’t snap all the pieces of your business together at once, but you could

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start here. The truth is there are many strategies to working puzzles, but the most important step is that you have to start. Marveling at all of the pieces won’t snap them together. BTW, the pro tip is to make sure all puzzle pieces are face up, sort them by color and set aside the edges or corners. Go get em, n Jason Becker is CEO, and Jimmy Richburg is Client Success Director, RICS Software.

© 2020 Diversified Communications



STAY CONNECTED O

The challenge of keeping in touch with your customer from a (social) distance. / By Ryan Callahan It could be months, possibly even a year, before things return to normal and ,even then, “normal” may be something totally different than what we were used to before. Waiting for things to go back to the way they were just won’t work. It’s time to embrace new ways to engage with your customers and create community and connection in this new landscape. Here are four tactics you should be doing or doing better as we head into 2021. Each tactic is specific, but can be adjusted accordingly to your store and your needs.

1. Make it easier for customers to reach you online. Customers are getting more comfortable with new ways to interact with businesses and are expecting even their local shops to correspond with them in real time as they shop and browse online. Your customers being able to interact with you and get quick feedback should be a top priority. Make sure you are checking those DMs on social media regularly, monitoring your customer service inbox and adding new ways for customers to get ahold of you. If you have the capacity, a chat plugin on

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

ne of the hardest parts of 2020 for specialty retailers is how the pandemic has shaped their ability to be part of their local running communities. The lack of community is not just bad for business, it’s bad for your well-being and sense of purpose. Catching up with your favorite customers in the shop, getting to know the new person in town at your weeknight group run and cracking a beer with your run club at the finish line of your local race is a big part of why we all got into this industry.

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Stay Connected (continued)

your site is a great way to be able to answer customer questions while increasing online conversions. 2. Make your e-mail smarter, not harder. Most e-mail platforms and POS systems now allow you to refine your e-mail strategy to target customer behaviors without much effort. Even if you can’t afford to build a complex marketing funnel, you should be able to set up some simple e-mail automations around things like birthdays, dormant customers or brand loyalists when new products arrive. Continue to publish general newsletters, but make those fun and informative with rich content. Sharpen your sales e-mails to point them to the right audience. Start using some basic targeting. Double down on what works, cut what doesn’t. 3. Find ways to engage in real life. Even if large races and group runs aren’t happening, your runners are still getting outside as often as ever before. Create challenges, design routes around town, organize run streaks and find ways to be part of your customers’ real-life running routines. We are seeing virtual runs really lose steam, but also seeing runners reward stores 44

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who are doing outside the box events and challenges. 4. Give your customers more ways to represent you. Just because your customers aren’t around as often doesn’t mean they don’t want to feel connected to the larger community. We have seen a lot of success with clients who are creating fresh new neighborhood-based merchandise designs or simply applying their logo to more inline product using fun colors and good apparel pieces. Make it a point to set aside pieces to put your branding on, take good photos and promote it. Your customers will like seeing something fresh, you’ll increase your brand exposure and your community can feel a sense of connection while they are out and about repping their favorite hometown store. If you already do a lot of branded merchandise, think of ways to keep it fresh or add some new designs into the mix. Evolve and Stay Relevant These four steps should help

you evolve and stay relevant going into the new year. But run specialty isn’t a one-sizefits-all approach. We hope you can use this list and apply it to your specific needs. Most important, regardless of how far along you are in your marketing and creative efforts, it is vital to make a plan now. The end of the year is the perfect time to sit down and map out an outline of how you want to approach 2021. What seasonal stories do you want to tell? What kind of outside-the-box events can you scheme up? What products are launching that you want to focus on? Dedicate time to think about these things and make a calendar to hold you accountable. And if you need a little help, companies like ours are happy to sit down with you and help you take a fresh look at your creative efforts going into the new year. I believe 2021 is going to be one of run specialty’s best years ever. Lean into it and get ready now. n

about the author Ryan Callahan is the President of Runhouse, a creative agency based in Philadelphia and founded in 2017. Callahan has spent his entire career in Run Specialty, where he has served as Marketing Director, Race Director and Creative Strategist for events, retailers and brands. © 2020 Diversified Communications

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash.

Regardless of how far along you are in your marketing and creative efforts, it is vital to make a plan now. The end of the year is the perfect time to sit down and map out an outline of how you want to approach 2021.

It could be months, possibly even a year, before things return to normal and even then, “normal” may be something totally different than what we were used to before.



CHANGING TIMES In a year unlike any other, run retailers need to give themselves a break. / By Ritchie Sayner

S

ince you are reading this in the fourth quarter of 2020, you have managed to endure and survive the many obstacles thrown your way during this unprecedented year. Economic shutdowns, riots and protests, mask mandates, social distancing requirements, as well as freaked-out customers and concerned employees. What else can be added to the list that complicates an already challenging occupation, right? My, my, how things have changed The financial ramifications of how to navigate these challenging times is surely a subject of focus as we close out this turbulent year and approach 2021 with hopes of “normalcy.” Nowadays, I often find myself longing for yesteryear. Step back in time for a moment to the golden days of retail. A time when merchants actually traveled to markets and trade shows to physically meet with vendors and colleagues to exchange ideas and buy merchandise for the upcoming season. A time when customers could enter your store and be greeted with a welcoming smile as opposed to being handed a mask lest they absent-mindedly entered minus a required face covering. Returned merchandise was simply put back in stock and not subjected to mandatory quarantine and disinfection protocols. Yes, back in the day, marketing efforts were actually measured by how many customers could be enticed to shop the store during a given event or promotion. Imagine doing that today as retailers are told to restrict the number of customers entering for their safety as well as that of the employees. Gone, for now, are the days when you entered a retail store and were offered a 46

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cup of coffee or a bottle of water. In 2020, those pleasantries have been replaced with hand sanitizer and masks. Whoever heard of curbside pickup prior to this year? Believe it or not, there was even a time when employees were financially better off going to work rather than depending on unemployment and the weekly government bonuses that accompany it in many cases. I’ll admit to being a bit nostalgic, but I miss the good old days of retail — 2019. It’s Not All Bad Though there are many horror stories to point to this year, there are several positive things that we can take away as well. Many retailers have stretched and grown to find new ways to do business that may never have been considered. Take, for example the retailer who, for whatever reason, didn’t feel the need for a shopping cart on their website. Clearly, without the ability to purchase online, those retailers without such a vehicle were/are at a disadvantage. What about the solidarity we witnessed

as retailers, vendors and landlords worked in unison, as all recognized that they were all in this situation together? Let’s not forget our government, whose quick response through the PPP forgivable loans and other lending programs, brought much-needed relief to many. We have also seen retailers become more introspective with regard to their largest asset — inventory. Some have been able to pick up new lines that perhaps they couldn’t carry previously. In most cases they have realized that “cash is king” is more than a clever slogan. A good margin percentage is important, but you can’t put a percentage in the bank. It doesn’t mean a thing if no one is buying. Retailers have discovered that less is more. The 80/20 Rule is Still Alive and Well Where do the majority of your sales really come from? More or less, 80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your stock. Close to 20 percent of the vendors you carry supply 80 percent of the inventory you have. If you take an

© 2020 Diversified Communications


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Changing Times (continued) honest look at your inventory position, you will undoubtedly find pockets of stock (or vendors) that you just don’t need to carry. These areas, overlooked for the most part when times are good, should be identified and eliminated as they contribute little to overall profitability. Now is the perfect time to again evaluate all vendors based on GMROI contribution so that you have the data to make the right decisions. Give Yourself A Pass This Year Few would argue that the path to retail success would likely be revenue growth coupled with inventory turnover. This year, however, for reasons that are all too obvious, topline revenue growth is turning

have to decide, based on your own situation, which is the best route for you.

It’s human nature to compare previous periods and want to improve. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Play the cards you are dealt the best that you can.

Holiday Shopping 2020 Style There are simply too many un k nowns t h is yea r for anyone to be able to predict how Holiday shopping will be impacted. Suffice to say that the experience will be different from any other year for reasons previously discussed. What you won’t see are smiling customers and sales associates and packed stores due to masking requirements and social distancing. What you might see are earlier shoppers and less discounting, perhaps due to leaner inventory levels and delivery interruptions. What you will see is an

out to be a near impossibility for many. It’s human nature to compare to previous periods and want to improve, but this year is an outlier. In some cases, where new goods never received the exposure that they should have for reasonable sell-through, it may make sense to “hotel” them for next year. Clearly, if done on a large-scale basis this will affect turnover, just as liquidating new stock at drastic reductions has a profound effect on margin. You

increase in online shopping. It is being widely reported that more stores will be closed on Thanksgiving, which in my opinion is a good thing. In such an unpredictable season, prudence would dictate that keeping cash reserves plentiful and inventory levels lean would be the responsible thing to do. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Play the cards you are dealt the best that you can and move forward. n about the author Ritchie Sayner has spent the past four decades helping independent retailers improve sales, profitability and cash flow. He can be reached though his website at www.advancedretailstategies.com.

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Cadence insoles provide a unique combination of contoured support with enhanced shock absorbing comfort in the heel and forefoot. Cadence are “Support Made Comfortable”. •

Assorted profiles and flexes to choose from

Durable high-rebound foam and support materials

Exclusive in-store only models available

No minimums, free pairs for referral sources, satisfaction guarantee and more

Contact us for complimentary samples. See cadenceinsoles.com for more information.

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FLITE XT®

The most technologically advanced sock for stability

• AnkleLock™ Technology provides targeted ankle support during quick movements. • Proprietary GripDry™ Fiber keeps you stable in your shoes. • Flex Channels improve range of motion and help control moisture.

CONTOURED COMPRESSION®FIT

FROM DOMESTIC & IMPORTED YARNS

FROM DOMESTIC & IMPORTED YARNS

FIBER FIRST® MOISTURE WICKING


Brand Focus ...

Pro-Tec Athletics Family-owned business has become a leader in recovery category as run specialty heads into 2021. The Background … Pro-Tec Athletics was founded by two young aspiring entrepreneurs in a small Southern California apartment in January 1991. Jeff Rodgers, being a professional volleyball player, first introduced ProTec to the volleyball market. With the help of volleyball distributor Tandem Sport and many independent ASICS rep teams, Pro-Tec discovered a bridge to run specialty.

The Technology Story … Practicing sustainability and efficiency in using state-of-the-art manufacturing and the highest quality component parts is the cornerstone of Pro-Tec’s business philosophy. For example, its Extreme line of massagers and mobility balls are made from a patented process that produces a non-toxic, latex-free, closed cell EVA/ Polyolefin foam. The Production Story … Another example of Pro-Tec’s advanced production capabilities are the high-end sewing machines used in its 3D Flat line, which implements a high filament count per thread that produces a premium compression providing maximum support with a softer feel.

The Run Connection … This connection to run specialty proved to be a great fit as the Pro-Tec team focused on supports for running-specific injuries such as shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, chondromalacia, IT Band syndrome and more. Pro-Tec Today … Exponential growth ensued and the small company that began by shipping out of a garage today is a leading sports medicine manufacturer and distributor to multiple markets in more than 40 countries. Despite its wide range of global distribution, the U.S. run specialty industry remains the company’s main focus. The Pro-Tec Difference … “We have remained a standalone family-owned business,” explains Jeff Rodgers, pointing out that while so many companies in its space are merging, acquiring or being bought by other companies, ProTec Athletics has remained independent. This has allowed its internal team to make decisions on new products and company direction without being beholden to a board of directors or other governing body that can thwart creative thinking and block unique innovations. 50

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Pro-Tec introduced the Ultra Resistance Band this year, an at-home exercise tool that can be used by runners for strength training.

Run Specialty and Pro-Tec … This independence also helps in its relations with run specialty stores. “We believe this certainly helps us relate to the run specialty store, which, in most cases, is a family-owned independent business,” says Rodgers. “We care about each and every run store, which is why we have a rep assigned to every store and special programs that are designed exclusively for run specialty.”

The Green Story … Rodgers says the company is mindful of the impact production and transportation of products has on the environment, which is why it has committed to causes like the Carbon Offset Emission Program where it donates, based on a certain percentage of dollars spent on transportation of products, to several clean air, carbon-reducing initiatives. The Product Difference … “We have made a commitment to be best in category,” Rodgers says. “This means we cannot simply repeat what is out there. It must be better and it must be different.” Pro-Tec was the first to bring to market an entire line of braces and supports designed specifically for running injuries. The Orb and RM Extreme Arrive … When the recent foam roller trend began several years ago Pro-Tec did not just bring foam rollers to market,

© 2020 Diversified Communications


#1 RUNNING INSOLE IN RUN SPECIALTY

*

FOR GOOD REASON

CURREX IS A LEADER IN DESIGNING HIGHLY CUSTOMIZED OVER-THE-COUNTER INSOLES. All of our insoles are scientifically proven to reduce foot pressure and provide superior support. And now you can experience them for yourself in your store. Pick from our top-rated RUNPRO insoles in three different arch profiles or our SUPPORTSTP insoles for everyday wear.

DON’T MISS OUT. RAISE YOUR GAME BY CARRYING OUR PRODUCT IN YOUR STORES. EMAIL: SUPPORTUSA@CURREX.COM | CALL: 844-428-7739 (844-4CURREX) CURREX.US * Sports Marketing Surveys USA, “Running Specialty Shop Retail Audit” (Q2, 2020)


Pro-Tec Athletics (continued)

The new EVA Bold Foam Roller brings a bold look and durability to the Foam Roller line-up. With features such as a closed cell surface to reduce spread of bacteria, textured surface to prevent slipping and excellent memory to retain shape over time, this massage tool is a runner’s best friend.

but saw the need for a multidirectional mobility ball. So it conceived the Orb, the first of its kind. Each of its premium products continue to offer a unique benefit. For example, the RM Extreme hand-held massager is contoured to shape to the body, yet designed with a rigidity so runners can control the compression level. The Retail Presentation … In addition to its commitment to offer products that are best in category, store presentation is an emphasis at Pro-Tec since it is the first impression made on the consumer. This is why it has developed packaging that is unique to the category — its recyclable pillow packages with Pro-Tec branding increases the aesthetic value of the retailer’s presentation. The COVID-19 Impact … In April, when stores experienced a government shutdown, Pro-Tec also felt the pain since a significant amount of its business comes from the run specialty channel — the short term impact was unavoidable. 52

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“As the consumer market temporarily shifted to online, we quickly pivoted to ensure our run specialty accounts could still capitalize on the sales of Pro-Tec products,” Rodgers says. Partnerships with companies like Fitted.com enabled stores to list its products on their own website with drop ship programs in place so it could ship direct to the store’s customers. Continuing Online … As a high percentage of the consumer traffic continues to remain online, Pro-Tec has pushed its referral business by partnering with companies such as Locally.com to ensure any visitor to its website sees exactly which stores are carrying its products and whether that item is currently in the store’s inventory. More COVID Impact … COVID-19 has also spurred new developments in Pro-Tec’s assortment. Many stores have benefitted from its At-Home Exercise products, which enable the runner to cross train

at home, a necessity with so many gyms closed. The COVID Recovery … With running continuing to gain popularity as the ideal activity during the pandemic, runners recognize the need to recover properly to minimize injuries and enhance performance. Massage therapy products, cross training/ strengthening tools and sports medicine supports are all part of a recognized protocol to keep the body healthy and active. “The more people running, the greater the demand for these types of items,” points out Rodgers. “We have seen a strong uptick in sales within those categories of injury support and recovery.” Athletes and Ambassadors … Pro-Tec’s Elite Athletes and Ambassadors are individuals who embody Pro-Tec values by living healthy and active lifestyles and believe wholeheartedly in the importance of injury support and recovery. They act as an extension of the brand, spreading the message within their communities and on social media how to stay injury-free and recover better. Getting Social … Pro-Tec uses social media to continue building brand awareness, reach new customers and connect with current customers. It posts relevant, relatable and informative content that its followers can comment on and share. Its target audience uses Facebook and Instagram the most, so Pro-Tec focus the majority of its efforts on those platforms. Advice for Retailers … “I have never felt it is my place

The 3D Flat Line by Pro-Tec Athletics is made with a flat stitching technology, allowing for customized stitching to achieve 3D shaping of the fabric for an optimum fit. It allows for full range of motion while maintaining a high level of support with medical grade compression.

to tell someone else how to run their business, as every business is unique and overseeing a retail business is very different from running a manufacturing/distribution business,” says Rodgers. “I will say, however, being financially aligned is imperative for any business. You never know when an unexpected downturn will hit, as this pandemic so aptly demonstrates.” Also important: If retailers have high fixed expenses or are leveraged with debt, a substantial reduction in revenues can be devastating. Having a balanced financial structure can help weather the storm. Taking advantage of the deals and programs that vendor partners are offering means everyone is in this together. The 2021 Plan … That’s simple, says Rodgers: “More run specialty specific programs and new innovations to help keep your runners healthy and active.” n © 2020 Diversified Communications


SAVE TIME AND INCREASE DATA ACCURACY The RICS E-Ordering ecosystem closes the data loop between retailers and suppliers. 1. Brands provide real-time product data to RICS 2. Retailers sell those products 3. Retailers send PO’s digitally to brands through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

New customers receive 50% Off by using code RI-E-ORDER: • 50% Off Setup. • 50% Off 1st Year of Monthly Service. • 50% Off 1st Year of Integrated Unified E-Commerce. • Expires January 15th, 2020.


99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021 Even though the pandemic forced the cancellation of The Running Event 2020 this month, there is still plenty of new product development going on from key vendors — from footwear to apparel, from socks to accessories. Since the industry can’t meet in person this year to see all of these innovations, we present 26 pages of the Running Insight Editors’ Choices of the Must-Have Products for run specialty retail for 2021. Enjoy!

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ANITA DELTA PAD SPORTS BRA/ MASSAGE TIGHTS

The Air Control Delta Pad Sports Bra, now in trend-right zebra inspired stripes, features breathable, triangular DeltaPad foam cups that not only guarantee support, but also ensure permanent air circulation with the cut-out sections at the bottom and to the sides of the cups. Coordinating with the sports bra are the massaging sports tights, whose textured fabric with integrated 3D nubs gives a continuously toning leg massage, which improves blood circulation. MSRP: Bra – $79.00; Tights – 139.00.

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99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

MEDI-DYNEADDADAY TRIO Recovery is hot at run retail and the Medi-Dyne Addaday Trio fits the bill with a set of massage balls in three different densities, allowing for massage personalization. Multiple balls can be used simultaneously to activate different acupressure point and they can be used all over the body. MSRP: $23.00.

XERO SHOESHFS Weighing in at 6.8 ounces with a tire thread-inspired outsole, breathable mesh, welded overlays and a moisture wicking lining made with 37.5 material, the HFS handle anything runners throw at it. MSRP: $110.00.

OS1STTHINAIR PERFORMANCE SOCKS The ultra-thin ThinAir Performance Socks offer comfort, support and airflow technology. The signature OS1st Compression Zone Technology is put to use with SkinThin material on the top of the foot for heat expulsion and two softly knitted “lift bars” to push cool air back into the sock. The socks also feature antimicrobial silver-ion treatment, moderate compression at the arch for comfort, and ultra-soft but durable microfiber. MSRP: $12.99.

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AMPHIPODLOVE TO RUN BOX Catering to all those new runners, the Love To Run Box starter kit includes a curated selection of Amphipod’s minimalist run essentials chosen specifically to help new runners hit the road or trail with just what they need. MSRP $69.50.

© 2020 Diversified Communications



99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

DARN TOUGHWOMEN’S STRIDE

The Women’s Stride micro crew has a lowprofile and stays put, protecting the leg, along with Merino wool’s silky feel that wicks moisture and regulates temperature. A Flex Window has been re-engineered for improved fit and flexibility. MSRP: $19.00.

POLARVANTAGE V2

The Vantage V2 is sleek on the outside, smart on the inside – and lighter than other multisport watches. It comes with a wrist-based heart rate, GPS, long battery life, performance tests, essential smart watch features and recovery tracking. MSRP: $499.95.

SUPERFEETPAIN RELIEF INSOLES

Gravity-defying CFX carbon delivers energizing support from start to finish in four options of Superfeet New Balance Insoles. Among them is the Running Pain Relief CFX that offers stability and control along with therapeutic cushioning. MSRP: $64.99.

GOODRMACH GS

LOCK LACESRAINBOW LACES

Goodr stepped into the danger zone with the release of the Mach Gs, polarized shades that contain all of the no-slip, no-bounce performance the brand is known for — now as functional plastic aviator sunglasses that are guaranteed to make you look like a Top Gun. MSRP: $35.00.

Looking for a little color for your shoes? Rainbow Laces are colorful, fun and match a bold and exciting personality. An option for kids (and adults who are kids at heart) that love to stand out in a crowd. MSRP: $8.99.

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WE DON’T RUN TO ADD DAYS TO OUR LIVES, WE RUN TO ADD LIFE TO OUR DAYS.

FEEL COMFORT GET MORE OUT OF LIFE


99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

BALEGASUPPORT SOCK

2UNDRPOWER SHIFT

Launching in March, the Support Sock cradles each foot for a snug, protective fit. Strategically placed silicone grip pads ensure neither the sock nor the foot will slide inside of the shoe. It also features unique oval protective ankle pads that offer comfort. MSRP: $18.00.

The Power Shift with ColdSkin thermal reduction fabric features a performance poly blend that provides support and quick-dry performance. The compression-like feel combined with the Joey Pouch and breathable back panel complete the package. MSRP: 3-inch Trunk, $27.99 Solids, $29.99 Prints; 6-inch Boxer Brief, $29.99 Solids, $31.99 Prints.

BODY LANTERNHEADBAND

PRO-TECORB MASSAGE BALL

Imagine a running headband that ensures you’re seen from all directions, while lighting your way. And it’s comfortable. That describes the new headband from Body Lantern, which include s a washable, removable wicking liner, four-hour battery life and charging cord. The company is veteran-owned and a portion of proceeds supports Veteran PTSD treatments. MSRP: $65.00.

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Have a ball! Runners can activate better recovery with the Orb Activate Vibrating Massage Ball. Three vibration settings allow users to choose the intensity and the 4.5-inch diameter and spherical shape allow for a multidirectional roll targeting areas. MSRP: $79.95.

© 2020 Diversified Communications



99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

SPENCO FOOTWEARFUSION 2 TROPICAL SANDALS

ULTIMATE DIRECTIONFASTPACKHER 20

Spenco Footwear’s Fusion 2 Tropical Sandal can be a go-to sandal for after-workout recovery or for just kicking around the house — the key is the step-in comfort. Plus, the Total Support Footbed gives an unmatched level of comfort and support. And they come in five different colors. MSRP: $44.99.

Designed to distribute weight like a vest but fit like a pack, the Fastpack Series boasts plenty of storage and pocketing for hydration up front and an upgraded back panel system that combines Infiknit technology. The FastpackHer20 is designed specifically to fit women through harness sizing and weight distribution. MSRP: $149.95.

VJ SHOESVJ MAXX

OOFOSSNAKE PRINT

Billed as “the perfect all-around trail running shoe,” the VJ MAXx has enough cushion for long runs, but delivers ground feel for control and confidence. It’s tough and breathable with a Kevlar woven upper and the VJ grip for all surfaces. MSRP: $160.00.

OOFOS prints are designed to pair with any occasion and take recovery everywhere runners want to go. More prints to join the Oofos Snake are coming for Spring/Summer 2021 in unisex/men’s styles. MSRP: $69.95.

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NO ARTIFICIAL WITH A LIGHTER TASTE

Endurance athletes take things farther. Gatorade® Endurance Formula is designed for the specific demands of endurance athletes. On course at over 300 races nationwide. AVAILABLE IN LEMON-LIME, ORANGE, CHERRY, AND WATERMELON

SOLD EXCLUSIVELY AT RUN, BIKE, AND TRI SHOPS AND ONLINE AT GATORADEENDURANCE.COM AND AMAZON.COM

Gatorade® Endurance Formula has nearly twice the sodium (300mg) and more than triple the potassium (140mg) of regular Gatorade® to help meet endurance athletes’ needs. ©2020 S-VC, Inc. GATORADE ENDURANCE and G DESIGN are registered trademarks of S-VC, Inc.


99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

FALKEACHILLES SOCK

ROLL RECOVERYR8+ Sore after a workout? Adjust the dial on the R8+ for a softer, more gentle roll. Looking for a deep tissue massage? Strengthen the dial and feel the full force of the R8+.

Silicone dots on both sides of the Achilles tendon provide the support in the Falke Achilles sock, so through each step the tissue next to the Achilles tendon is massaged to increase blood circulation. MSRP: $69.95.

STEIGENRUNNING SOCKS Steigen has brought its Australian roots to the U.S. with a philosophy that cushioning in socks is a myth — if you are using your socks for cushioning, you have the wrong shoes on. Steigen socks, which are One-Size-Fits-All, stretch and hold due to highquality materials and 20 percent Italian Lycra content. MSRP $14.95.

BLACK DIAMONDDISTANCE SPIKE TRACTION DEVICE

FITLYSUB90 HYDRO RUNNING PACK

Built for fast mountain travel, the Distance Spike has a hybrid upper that features a softshell toe cover combined with a heel retention elastomer. The softshell toe cover is designed for fit, packability and snow protection. The spikes are made of stainless steel and are heat treated for strength, corrosion and wear resistance. MSRP: $99.95.

A clever hydration system, the Sub90 Hydro Running Pack has a low-profile soft flask integrated into a thermo-pocket to keep liquids cooler longer. Carry a phone, keys, cards and hydrate at the same time.

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99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021 TECNICA MAGMA

The Magma bridges the gap between a trail running shoe, hiking shoe and approach shoe to deliver protection, stability and grip in a lightweight package so outdoor enthusiasts can have a one-quiver trail shoe the provides them with the support they need.

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99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

ICEBREAKERHYBRID GLOVES

Highly breathable gloves with a zone construction for high-output pursuits, the Tech Trainer Hybrid Gloves combine stretchy Cool-Lite Merino jersey with a protective woven overlay and touchscreen compatible fingertips. MSRP: $60.00.

MIZUNOST. PADDY’S PACK Looking for a green product to make some green? In February Mizuno will launch the St. Paddy’s Pack, inspired by the “luck of the Irish,” with the classic striping of vintage runner kits. An ideal short for St Patrick’s Day races. MSRP: $40.00.

BROOKSGLYCERIN 19/GLYCERIN GTS 19 The Glycerin 19 and Glycerin 19 GTS (GTS now means “Go-To Support”) bring the comfort – “pillowy soft cushioning” as Brooks puts it – and support for runners looking for both. MSRP: $150.00.

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LIGHT YOUR PATH ... LIGHT YOUR PRESENCE

THE BODY LANTERN

TORCH

The comfortable, rechargeable, washable headband that let’s you see – AND BE SEEN – from every direction.

www.bodylantern.com


99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

FLOYD’S OF LEADVILLEFULL SPECTRUM GEMS

SWIFTWICKFLITE XT SOCKS

Everyone is into CBD these days and one of the running leaders is Floyd’s of Leadville, which is pushing its chewable Full Spectrum Gems as a tasty way to relax and recover with fun flavors — Cotton Candy and Cola. These gummy-style Gems are crafted with Full Spectrum CBD from hemp that’s organically grown and manufactured in the USA and contain a wide array of cannabinoids and whole plant compounds. MSRP: 30-count packages $45.00.

Flite XT, billed as “the most technologically advanced sock ever developed to improve stability,” incorporates GripDry Fiber (a fiber that prevents slipping inside the shoe) and AnkleLock technology that provides targeted ankle support. MSRP: $19.99.

BLUE RUBCHAFE LACTIGOTOPICAL GEL LactiGo is a fast-acting topical gel with menthol and carnosine that helps runners maximize their athletic performance and muscle recovery. Apply it about 45 minutes before an activity and again post-shower for recovery. MSRP: $29.95. 68

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RYKERM-ROLL SELFMASSAGE STICK ROLLER The M-ROLL Massage Stick Roller is a handheld selfmassage stick roller that helps relieve aches, pain and stiffness in muscles and joints. Use for health, sport and fitness –and running – activities. MSRP: $34.94.

Runners can protect their skin from rough, painful chapping and chafing with Chafe, a goto-natural anti-chafe solution. It contains no petroleum by-products, no silicones or dimethicones, no parabens, phthalates or artificial fragrances. MSRP: .5 oz. – $6.00; 1.5 oz. – $11.00; 2.5 oz. – $16.00; three-pack of 2.5 oz. – $44.00.

HEADSWEATSACTIVE SINGLET The Active Singlet is made with performance macro orb Repreve fabric, a sustainable material manufactured from recycled plastic bottles. The singlet is lightweight, breathable and eco-friendly. MSRP: $25.00. © 2020 Diversified Communications



99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021 UNDER ARMOURHOVR PHANTOM 2 The HOVR Phantom 2 follows in the footsteps of previous UA HOVR Phantom models with improved design and performance features in three core areas: cushioning, fit and feel and training plans via UA MapMyRun. MSRP: $150.00.

BODY GLOVE EQUALIZER BRA AND ROAM CAPRI The Equalizer medium-support bra features a UPF 50+ swim fabric along with removable soft cups for versatility, a recycled rib insert and flatlock seams. The matching Roam capri also has the UPF 50+ material and features a 20-inch inseam, recycled rib inserts and a sewn-in gusset for a level of comfort fit for an adventure. MSRP: Bra – $41.00; Capri – $66.00.

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99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021 361FLAME The Flame is an athlete-driven, race-ready, uber-lightweight speedster that combines new Qu!kflame, a thermoplastic polyamide elastomer that is extremely springy and light while still being durable enough to log miles. Weight is 7.4 ounces with an 8mm drop. MSRP: $160.00.

JANJIAFO-VENT MULTI SHORT

CADENCELOW ARCH INSOLE

Playing off Janji’s AFO Middle Short, the AFO-Vent Multi Short is a seven-pocket running short that is fast drying and light weight and certainly has the most storage of any running short. MSRP: $72.00 W/$74.00 M.

Runners looking for a replacement insole with a low-arch profile and mild-to-moderate support can check out the The Cadence Low Arch, a thin 5mm from heel to toe. MSRP: $49.95.

NEW BALANCEFUEL CELL REBEL V2

Coming in April, the Rebel v2 takes NB’s learnings on speed from V1 and adds its highest rebound FuelCell midsole. Explosive energy return is coupled with a silky smooth underfoot transition, making everyday training and tempo runs feel incredible. MSRP: $130.00.

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99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

SKRATCH LABS SUPERFUEL DRINK MIX

KIND CBDHEAL AGAIN Heal Again has a formulation team of 12 ingredients powered by a 1:1 CBD:CBG ratio mixed at 1000 mg per ounce of product. One of its superstar products is Arnica, which is 10 percent of its product mix. Kind CBD feels that the high 1:1 CBD:CBG ratio enhances the effectiveness of the other ingredients — it’s like adding a turbocharger to the already proven compounds. MSRP: $29.99 for one-ounce bottle.

Each serving of Sport Superfuel Drink Mix provides 400 calories, enough to power a two-to-three hour effort for most endurance athletes, or an extremely intense one-hour effort for an elite athlete. Superfuel is made with Cluster Dextrin, an extraordinarily complex carbohydrate that provides more energy per molecule than other fueling options and a steady release of energy to alleviate the risk of GI distress.

VENGACBD ENERGY DRINK A premium blend of CBD, caffeine, vitamin B, amino acids, and potassium, Venga’s CBD Energy Drink gives bodies the fuel they need to maintain endurance efforts and better manage the demands of high mileage and highintensity training. It contains glucosamine to aid joint health and mobility and Berry Blast flavor. MSRP $24.99.

SOCK GUY CHANNEL AIR SOCKS Channel Air socks feature four channels of air mesh and five channels of padded cushioning for a combination of support, moisture control and comfort. The ultra-plush sock also has an arch support to help reduce fatigue. MSRP: $12.95.

ULTRASPIRE LEGACY RACE VEST

JUNKWINTER GAITER

The Legacy 2.0 10-liter race vest is a long distance mid-capacity pack that can meet entry level through championship needs. It comes equipped with the Max02 Waist system that gives the flexibility of a one-size-fitsmost pack with the fit of a sized vest. The UltrAcool Light Mesh is breathable and lightweight but durable to support full capacity endeavors. MSRP: 109.95.

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The Winter Gaiter, designed to keep runners comfortably warm and dry during all cool-climate runs, is created with Junk’s Borean Technical Fabric that features a a waterresistant exterior and soft fleece interior. Plus, it comes in lots of fun and colorful designs. MSRP: $24.99.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


mudroombackpacks.com

packing A DIFFERENCE Separate from the jungle Mudroom Backpacks would like to congratulate the San Diego Half Marathon for 10 years running. We are excited to work with event organizers to customize Mudroom backpacks to commemorate its anniversary. And we look forward to the next 10 years. More info on the event at: sdhalfmarathon.com

Mudroom is a single innovative, versatile backpack solution for what’s next for runners.

Mudroom® Intermodal™ – with rain-cover integrated into the carrying handle and separated shoe compartments (Patents granted and pending). Mudroom Quartable (inset) with separated shoe compartments.

@mudroombackpacks @mudroombackpacks


99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

SKECHERSGO RUN RAZOR + HYPER The GOrun Razor + Hyper™ delivers the same responsive and resilient performance as the GOrun Razor 3 Hyper with added comfort and traction features ideal for daily runs. The versatile style’s mono mesh and polyester upper retains the lock down fit of the GOrun Razor 3 Hyper but adds a touch of give and softness and it retains the Hyper Burst midsole complemented by a Goodyear rubber outsole with an additional piece of rubber under the medial mid-foot for enhanced durability and traction. MSRP: $140.00.

AETREXALBERT 2 FLIPBELT RUNNING LIGHT Designed to work with the FlipBelt, runners can simply place the waist light’s rubberized casing into a pocket of the FlipBelt to project 500 lumens of light. Recharge eight hours of burn time within two hours with simple micro USB cable. MSRP: $69.00.

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Retailers will need new tools to sell all of these new products and Albert 2 is the ultimate all-in-one foot scanning solution. It helps retailers find the right fit on the first try in 20 seconds and provides add-on sales opportunities. Capturing 3D measurements, pressure data and customer information, this compact, state-of-the-art scanner does it all. Cost starts at $2495, or $73/month. Coming to retailers February 2021.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


have a super day “Superfuel is the only product on the market that doesn’t cause GI issues, tastes great, and has the nutritional values needed in endurance events.” Gwen Jorgensen, Olympic Gold Medalist in Triathlon

sport superfuel

high carbohydrate drink mix 400 calories per serving Order at sales@skratchlabs.com or 800-735-8904 www.skratchlabs.com


99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

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HYPERICEHYPERVOLT WITH BLUETOOTH

MOTIVECBD

Family owned, farm to table and supplied by the largest grower and processors in Ohio, Motive CBD, which can ease chronic pain, depression and anxiety, is derived from hemp, not flowering plants, so the THC percentage is less than 0.3 percent, making it 100 percent legal. 78

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The Hypervolt delivers a symphony of power, performance and variability to accelerate warmup and recovery. It uses QuietGlide technology to deliver three speeds of powerful rapid percussion almost silently. Now fully connected for automated use with the Hyperice App. MSRP: $349.00.

Š 2020 Diversified Communications


99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

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BIBBOARDSBBSTRAPS

Wearing a mask while running just got easier with the bbSTRAPS adjustable mask lanyard. The key is the adjustable toggle that makes any mask a perfect fit for everyone by keeping the mask straps off the ears. MSRP: $5.99.

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ORANGE MUDTRANSITION WRAP EXTREME No one likes to track dirt into their car after a run in the park, so Transition Wrap Extreme – a multipurpose changing towel and seat cover – takes care of that as a new waterproof version of the original Transition Wrap. MSRP: $49.95.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

MBTHURACAN MBT leaps into the highest levels of road running shoes with the Huracan, a pro-level, fast shoe that features a new midsole/outsole combo that includes its PivotAxis with plenty of rocker in the midsole. Despite its light, supple feel, there’s ample cushioning underfoot, with a 37mm heel stack height. MSRP: $199.00.

KAHTOOLAEXOSPIKES Prior to EXOspikes, traction was designed specifically for use on either roads or trails, but none provided trustworthy cross-terrain performance for both during the same outdoor adventure. EXOspikes serve the versatile needs of trail runners, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts when navigating everything from snow-covered mountain trails to icy roads, all with one product.

MERRELLMOAB FLIGHT With a fit already trusted by 50 million feet, Moab Flight is made to cover more distance as a protective, cushioned trail runner designed to give underfoot confidence on any trail. The design is based on its iconic hiking boot. MSRP: $110.00.

SAUCONYSWITCHBACK Designed to pack power and performance on the trail, the Switchback 2 redfines the shoe upper in BOA’s Performance Fit Lab. The BOA Fit System activates a Mono-Panel configuration that connects the foot to the midsole of the Saucony Switchback 2 – improving agility and speed. The bootie construction keeps debris out and works seamlessly with the Mono-Panel for a connected fit. MSRP: $140.00.

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99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

RICSELECTRONIC ORDERING

POWERSTEPHOT/COLD THERAPY WRAP The Hot/Cold Therapy Wrap is an addition to a post-injury RICE treatment routine, with an adjustable closure for controlled compression and a built-in reusable gel pack that can be heated or frozen. MSRP: $25.95.

TAILWINDSALTED CARAMEL REBUILD Based on a patent-pending perfectly complete protein, Tailwind Rebuild helps to rebuild muscle, replenish glycogen stores and restore electrolytes while rehydrating the body to help runners reach a full recovery.

With all of these great new products on these pages, run specialty retailers are going to need a streamlined process for ordering and inventory control. That’s where E-Ordering from RICS Software comes in. Brands provide product data to RICS … Retailers sell products … Retailers send POs digitally to brands through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Use RICS to Move inventory faster!

ROLLGAFOAM ROLLERS Rollga foam rollers fit the natural curves of the body and are easily able to reach muscles that traditional flat rollers can not. They provide the stability of foam roller with the pinpoint targeting of both a large and small lacrosse ball.

TIGER TAILT-1000 MASSAGE GUN Bring out the big guns with the T-1000 Massage Gun, which now features three variable speeds, seven cushioned head attachments, eight-plus-hour battery life, TigerPRR ultra quiet motor technology and one special fascia tool. MSRP: $299.95.

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ENDAITEN Inspired by Kenyan running with improved durability with updated materials and increased outsole rubber coverage. The performance trainer remembers its roots with Kenyan cultural elements integrated into the shoe design. MSRP: $110.00.

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99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

CURREXRUNPRO INSOLE The RunPro insoles are scientifically proven to reduce foot pressure, while providing superior support. Plus, they deliver optimized motion, enhanced stability and can even reduce injuries — all in three different arch profiles. MSRP: $49.95.

FEETURES ELITE MAX CUSHION LOW CUT SOCK The Elite Max Cushion Low Cut sock finds a balance in height between the Quarter and the No Show Tab styles. For Spring 2021, the Low Cut will only be available in Grey, Black and White. MSRP: $15.99.

BLYSSSKIRTING AROUND CROP Designed for running in all seasons, with antimicrobial fabric that wicks away sweat and protects from the sun’s rays, the Skirting Around Crop features functional side pockets on each leg of the pants and a large zippered pocket on the back of the skirt. MSRP: $88.00.

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MUDROOMQUARTABLE BACKPACK There’s nothing worse than a pair of dirty shoes messing up your cell phone or laptop, so the Quartable backpack holds a pair of shoes separately from electronics and other items inside a pack. Features include a laptop compartment and hydration compatibility.

RABBITSURF ‘N TURF What happens when board shorts meet running shorts? The Surf ‘n Turf four-inch short. Ideal for a run, with all the technical features and performance fabric needed, but also good to hop into the ocean on that post-run dip. Made with two-way stretch, brief liner, external drawcord and a back pocket that zips and holds most phones. MSRP: Surf ‘n turf 4” men’s short $65.00 (7”: $68.00).

© 2020 Diversified Communications


99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

LA SPORTVIACYKLON

VEJACONDOR 2 Highly versatile, the Condor 2 is a go-to shoe for long runs, easy runs and recovery sessions. Its L-Foam cushioning absorbs shocks and its Alveomesh is light and breathable to drain excess heat away, while the inner sock construction provides a seamless feel. MSRP: 160.00.

A performance trail shoe, designed for skyraces and off-road races, Cyklon is built on research and collaboration conducted in the BOA Performance Fit Lab and is engineered to improve stability, precision and deliver a dialed-in fit for downhill running and rocky terrain. The internal Dynamic Flap and BOA Fit System work together to wrap the foot. MSRP: $160.00.

GARMINFORERUNNER The Forerunner 745 features detailed training stats, daily suggested workouts and Smartwatch functions. It offers dozens of built-in activity profiles – from track running to biking to Pilates – and its advanced performance monitoring tools include VO2 max, training status and on-device running and cycling daily workout suggestions. MSRP: $499.99.

CHAMPIONS AND LEGENDS RECOVER TINCTURE

Recover Tincture’s formulation provides the maximum benefits from full-spectrum organic hemp extract CBD, for calming pain relief and inflammation reduction after hard training. The Tincture dropper allows for precise dosing, with easy filling and minimal waste. MSRP: $59.99 for 500mg; $99.99 for 1000mg.

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HONEY STINGER PLUS+ PERFORMANCE CHEWS Lime and salt are one of life’s great pairings and Stingerita is one of the two flavors – the other is Mango Melon – for PLUS+ Performance Chews. With caffeine to sustain energy levels and electrolytes to replenish reserves. MSRP: $2.49 per sleeve; $29.99 per box of 12.

PETZLHEADLAMP The big draw of the IKO line is the Airfit headband, which achieves a balance of weight and reduces contact area on the head by around 75 percent. The IKO Core headlamp, geared towards runners, is hydrophobic to resist sweat absorption. MSRP: $89.95.

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99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

VICTORY SPORT DESIGNBEAR III The Bear III gear and ultra-racing drop bag includes multiple pockets that can be labeled, clear windows to see smaller contents and detachable components to customize the interior space. Its water-resistant, firm shell allows it to stand upright. MSRP: $120.00.

CATERPYNO-TIE SHOELACES

AMP HUMANPR LOTION

The no-tie shoelace features patented elastic bump technology that lets users create customized tension throughout each eyelet of their shoes. Adaptive tension expands as feet swell while providing excellent security. MSRP: $9.95.

PR Lotion delivers the natural electrolyte bicarb to the working muscles. When used before training it allows runners to sustain a higher load due to improved muscle efficiency and it limits the damage of free radicals while working out, thus improving recovery.

BOCOPERFORMANCE X MASK A new style of face mask, the performance X (exercise) mask is an updated, lighter and must-have version of the original Boco Face Mask. It consists of two layers of durable knit performance fabric — the internal layer features a slit that can hold a filter for additional protection and the soft elastic is sewn to both the top and bottom of the mask for a secure fit over the ears. MSRP: $13.99.

ADDADAYBIOZOOM The Bluetooth-enabled BioZoom features a long-reach ergonomic handle to enable massages even in hardto-reach places, a removable battery with a life of up to three hours, a digital display and a trigger button that makes it easy to toggle up and down between different frequencies. Connect with the optional Addaday app. MSRP: $199.00.

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ACTIVATE CANOPYSLING TOP The Sling Top allows event organizers a way to instantly change the printing – or add printing to – an existing tent. It fits on most commercial grade canopies, and is small enough to pack away easily.

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99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

ASICSNOOSA TRI 13 Launching in March, the Noosa Tri 13 gets a complete redesign with bold and youthful lines. It is also updated with ASICS’ Guidesole technology for a snappy, fast and stable ride. An increase in stack height gives the Noosa greater underfoot cushioning and the soft and simple upper construction reduces weight and increases breathability.MSRP: $130.00.

ELLIPTIGOFLUID 365 STATIONARY TRAINER

MY SOXY FEETMESSAGE SOCKS

Designed from the ground up to provide a stationary training experience for all ElliptiGO bikes, the Stationary Trainer includes a front stand that holds the bike upright by attaching to the steering column and supporting the front wheel, and a resistance unit that attaches to the rear wheel of the bike and allows the bike to pivot side to side. MSRP: $499.00.

Socks with a message of inspiration include Kindness, Inspiration and Togetherness. New themes coming for 2021 include Strength, Power and Greatness.

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99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

RUN’S DONEANTIMICROBIAL CAR SEAT COVER

SPRAINGORELIEVEIT

The machine washable Antimicrobial Car Seat Cover keeps the vehicle seat dry and clean because it is made with quick-dry microfiber suede fabric that is soft and comfortable. Moisture-wicking and antimicrobial material keeps perspiration and odor at bay. MSRP: $36.95.

Inflammation is the underlying issue of muscle soreness and the most common injuries suffered by runners and RelieveIt has outperformed CBD and diclofenac in laboratory inflammation testing. MSRP: $39.99.

REEBOKFLOATRIDE ENERGY SYMMETROS

VIBE ROLLERVIBE HEX PRO

The Floatride Energy Symmetros is the shoe that can do it all – from track workouts to long runs, with a high-cushion, lightweight, neutral design. The breathable mesh upper hugs the foot while keeping it cool, the midsole Floatride Energy foam and an Ortholight molded sockliner complement the softness. Photo Credit: Gary Oliver. MSRP: $130.00.

The Vibe Hex Pro features an ergonomic shape to hug the spine, unique patterning for deeper muscle stimulation and four vibration modes so runners can customize their level of relief — all in a compact package no bigger than a typical water bottle. MSRP: $99.00.

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99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

GATORADEENDURANCE ENERGY GELS For runners who are constantly pushing limits, Gatorade Endurance Energy Gels (both caffeinated and non-caffeinated) deliver carbohydrate energy, help reduce fatigue and maintain focus during prolonged periods of training and racing. Even better, new flavors include Cherry Lime (non-caffeine), Watermelon (caffeine)and Caramel Candy (caffeine). MSRP: $29.99/case.

MUIRENERGY STRAWBERRY Energy Strawberry is a four ingredient, 100 percent organic, real food energy gel that is packed with nutrition: folate, vitamin C, polyphenols, manganese and potassium. MSRP: $2.50.

The Sabre RED Runner Pepper Gel with LED Armband maximizes visibility in all conditions and provides instantly accessible protection in case runners encounter a threat. Deployed in a powerful gel stream delivery to reduce wind blow-back, this pepper gel provides protection at a safe distance with its 12-foot range. MSRP: $12.99.

Get naked, but wear a vest. The HC Running Vest is an expansion on the technical nature of its original running vest — it increases capacity while still maintaining the fit, construction and breathability. The vest holds shape and compression even while completely wet. MSRP: 149.99.

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A self-heating, vibrating, massage therapy ball combines heat with MyoStorm’s Ultrasoothe Vibration technology, it is designed to facilitate muscle recovery and help reduce chronic pain. MSRP: $149.00.

SABRERED RUNNER PEPPER GEL WITH LED ARMBAND

NAKED SPORTSRUNNING VEST

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MYOSTORMMASSAGE THERAPY BALL

VUORITAVI SHORT The Tavi Short is built for both land and sea, creating an incredibly versatile athletic short — high-waisted with a drawstring tie. MSRP: $64.00.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

VUORITAVI SHORT The Tavi Short is built for both land and sea, creating an incredibly versatile athletic short — high-waisted with a drawstring tie. MSRP: $64.00.

THE NORTH FACEVECTIV With a history in innovation through apparel and equipment, The North Face brings a patented technology to footwear. Vectiv was born on the trail and promotes forward momentum and propulsion. MSRP: $199.00.

UNDER ARMOURIGNIGHT COLDGEAR FUNNEL INCREDIWEARKNEE SLEEVE The Incrediwear Knee Sleeve accelerates recovery and relieves pain for those suffering from acute injuries or chronic joint conditions. It is embedded with semiconductor elements, promoting an increase in blood flow that allows the body’s healing process to occur naturally and more efficiently. MSRP: $40.00.

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Running is hard in the winter, so Under Armour has taken its apparel expertise and developed the Ignight ColdGear Funnel — super-warm, light and providing 360-degree reflectivity. MSRP: $90.00.

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99 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR 2021

DIADORAMYTHOS VOLO This shoe, created to help the runner take flight, gets its name from the literal Italian translation for Volo. On the tech side, it includes Blushield technology in the midsole, duratech 5000 rubber in the outsole and a lightweight air mesh nylon upper. MSRP: $135.00.

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ONE MORE THING ... A (love) letter to the running industry as we all turn the page to 2021. / By Tom Griffen

M

y favor ite pastime at The Running Event has always been sitting at a one of the tables in the hallway or main lobby of the Austin Convention Center, then opening my computer to pretend I am doing some work. But I’m not doing work — I’m strategically placing myself in the heart of the bustle and interacting with the myriad industry people as they walk past. Some folks I’ll know and many I won’t. Regardless, I’ll spend hours waving and exchanging lively greetings to each passerby. These are my people — and there’s something about our energetic exchanges that make the world a better place. Inevitably, a person will ask if they can join me at the table. They’ll set down their bundle of trade show swag and take a load off — quite possibly for the first time all day. They’ll relax into the uncomfortable plastic chair and let out a giant exhale. The TRE Experience I’ll know doggone well what they’ve endured — they’ve seen one too many lines, learned about an abundance of new products and all the while were being just a smidge more social than they are used to. “Just trying to pack it all in,” one of us might say. To which we’ll both chuckle knowingly. But still, we’ll strike up a conversation. Sometimes it’ll be surfacy and all workrelated, and that’s cool. We’ll both end up scribbling some ideas in our conference notebooks. But usually when folks plop down, we’ll silently agree to eschew business banter and instead go straight into the heart of our real lives. Our discussion will range from family happenings and relationship drama to recent travel and future 90

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aspirations. We’ll pass our phones back and forth, swapping photos and memories of the previous year’s milestones. We’ll crack up at anecdotes we’ve both heard through the grapevine, then we’ll nod and laugh, feeling silly to be privy to some kind of inside scoop. And of course we’ll tell our big stories. The ones we save for our people. This is when things get really real. This is when we sit back and scratch our chins and fiddle with our fingernails. This is when we sip our coffees and truly give ourselves over to listening to one another Most every encounter with this new or old friend will end with a hearty hug — not one of those lame one-armed deals or too-cool-to-hug things, either. Our hugs last that extra quarter-second, which we’ll both notice and be absolutely okay with. Our chance encounter will have been serendipitous, just like it always is. Whatever the case, our unique moment will uplift us both. And our encounter, coupled with the exact same thing happening with countless TRE attendees in all the nooks and crannies in and around town, will serve to deepen the sense of community made possible by attending this magical event in the first place. This is the sort of moment we came here seeking. Establishing a Connection I often joke that I don’t go to Austin to grow my independent consulting business. But it’s true — which is a good thing because I can count on one hand how many times my TRE speaking sessions have amounted to new clients. But to be honest, this is absolutely fine. TRE has never been as much about work as it has been about re-establishing the togetherness that made our industry so attractive to me in the first place. And I’ll take that over a paying gig any day

Oh, what I’d give (and I know I’m not alone here) for a fraction of that feeling I took for granted all these years while sitting at that table at The Running Event. I never fully realized that y’all were helping me fill some of my empty buckets. If I never thanked you for the times we’ve shared, please allow me to do so now. of the week. Most especially now. Oh what I’d give (and I know I’m not alone here) for a fraction of that feeling I took for granted all these years while sitting at that table at The Running Event. I never fully realized that y’all were helping me fill some of my empty buckets. If I never thanked you for the times we’ve shared, please allow me to do so now. I appreciate you so much. Stronger In 2021 This year has forced us all to dig deeper into ourselves. We’re left alone trying and meet the needs often met by coming together at our annual gathering. No doubt we’ve all felt challenged by 2020’s seemingly unending gauntlet, but there’s also no doubt we’re stronger as a result. Stronger as individuals and even more robust and gritty as a collective force. I, for one, can’t wait to see what the future has in store. My guess — it’ll still be all it’s ever been, but it’ll also be more. Let’s find a table and talk about it. Or better yet, let’s just sit back and catch up n. about the author Tom Griffen is a freelance writer and consultant for the running industry. He currently lives in Spokane, WA. Give him an e-mail hug at tomgriffen.com.

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