Running Insight 2.1.19

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FEBRUARY 1, 2019



Finding Their Running Niche Bob Dyer returns to the running retail game with an able co-leader, his wife Jennifer Henderson.


ob Dyer has come full circle. Forty years ago, Dyer moved to Ann Arbor, MI, after graduating from Saginaw Valley State University. A collegiate All-American runner for the Cardinals, Dyer wanted to advance his running career and Ann Arbor, a city with a vibrant and competitive running scene, offered a lively opportunity to do just that. But a funny thing happened on Dyer’s journey to a 2:21 marathon PR. He picked up a job at Tortoise And Hare, one of the nation’s earliest entrants into the running specialty marketplace, and discovered an earnest fascination with running footwear. “I wanted to learn all that I could,” Dyer recalls. After earning a master’s degree in exercise physiology at the University of Michigan, Dyer began a 33-year career in the footwear industry, spending time with brands such as Etonic, Puma and Brown Shoe Company

By Daniel P. Smith

The husband and wife team of Jennifer Henderson and Bob Dyer are making a run at the retail game again.

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2019 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.



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Running Niche (continued) before eventually serving as the CEO of MBT. But as Dyer approached his 60th birthday, he began contemplating a different path. Last May, Dyer returned to the running specialty retail game when he and Jennifer Henderson, his wife of 34 years, opened Running Niche in St. Louis. The Path to Running Niche

Opened in May, 2018, Running Niche in St. Louis is housed in a cozy 950-squarefoot storefront in the city’s booming Grove neighborhood.


Over three decades in the footwear industry, Dyer touched nearly every element of the footwear continuum — from product development and sourcing to athlete relations, licensing and design. He’s been in the factories, studied materials and molds and crafted a go-to market strategy. “Virtually the entire process of bringing a shoe to market,” says Dyer, who even has his name on a few utility patents. It was a rewarding career, but taxing as well. With a large amount of business in Europe and Asia, particularly in his most recent position leading MBT’s global footwear business, Dyer was constantly on the go. “It was getting incredibly demanding from a travel perspective and I began thinking about what might be next,” the now 62-year-old Dyer says. That contemplation spurred him to recall his years at Tortoise And Hare. He enjoyed working with people one-on-one, talking running and helping customers find the right shoe. “I knew I wanted to get back to the mom-and-pop running store,” Dyer says. He only had to convince Henderson, who had also worked at Tortoise And Hare during the couple’s Ann Arbor days, to come along for the ride. He painted the vision of a

community running store that combined his industry experience and knowledge of exercise physiology with Henderson’s effervescent personality. “Bob kept telling me over and over that we could do this differently,” Henderson says. Dyer’s sales pitch worked and Henderson, a graphic designer who had picked up running at age 50 and has completed several marathons in recent years, was all in. “Bob and I are both worker bees and if we were going to work a lot, then it might as well be something fun that connects with our passions,” Henderson says. Building a Plan

The couple built a pragmatic, thoughtful business plan – one they continue to update monthly – and a go-to-market strategy rooted in sound financial data and real-world perspective culled from Dyer’s industry colleagues, including a few running specialty retailers. They then found a cozy 950-square-foot storefront in St. Louis’ booming Grove neighborhood. On May 1, 2018, Running Niche opened its doors, only the third running specialty store in the city limits. Set before a multi-unit residential building on Manchester Avenue, the retail space boasts a contemporary vibe with sealed concrete floors, crisp white walls, recessed lighting and linear shelving. Dyer and Henderson applied a cautious, disciplined investment to the store’s buildout. “We got into this store costeffectively and don’t have a lot of money tied into the physical structure,” Dyer explains. “As a result, we were able to devote © 2019 Diversified Communications

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Running Niche (continued) more money to inventory.” On the footwear side, Running Niche blends established running brands like Brooks and Mizuno with upstart players like Hoka One One, 361 Degrees, Altra and On while seeking to elevate the idea of “personal service” with a hands-on approach that includes watching people walk and run as well as utilizing foot mapping sensors. “Any shoe fitting experience is at least 30 minutes,” Dyer stresses. Finding Their Footing

The sports bra section is placed in a private nook in the rear of the store, while the shoe wall contains an assortment of brands ranging from Brooks and Mizuno to Hoka One One, On Running and Altra.


The same focus on attentive service extends to other categories as well, particularly sports bras. Located in a six-by-eight foot semi-private nook in the rear of the store and adjacent to the dressing room, the store’s bra section features 125-150 bras from four brands – Brooks, Anita, Enell and Handful – with their own distinctive approach and style. “This was a conscious, strategic decision and investment on our part,” Henderson says of the bra area. “It was something we really felt we could do better than anyone else and promote as a point of differentiation.” The couple has also championed its one-on-one coaching services through the Lydiard Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes the endurance training system of legendary running coach Arthur Lydiard. Currently providing complimentary and individualized coaching services to 19 runners ages 22-72, Dyer and Henderson help the athletes’ craft and modify their Lydiard-styled workout plans through emails, phone calls and in-store visits. “As people have personal

success and achieve their goals over time, we believe word will spread and it will create loyalty that’s lasting,” Dyer says. Regular group runs, meanwhile, have connected Running Niche to the community and runners to each other. “We wanted to be the place for runners because the fun in this business is the people,” Dyer says. Thus far, the biggest challenge has been time management. As a footwear executive, Dyer uncovered problems and crafted strategy, but largely directed others to execute. At Running Niche, however, Dyer is both owner and operator, responsible with Henderson for everything and anything that happens under the store’s roof. Business Comes First

“Running a store day to day is all encompassing,” Dyer says, noting that household chores are quickly pushed aside the moment a customer walks in the door. “This is a seven day a week adventure, even if we are closed on Mondays.” Not t hat t he c ouple is complaining. “Because this is a passion, it doesn’t seem like work,” Henderson says. The couple has enthusiastically embraced Running Niche’s mom-and-pop vibe, putting the focus on the shop’s customers and personally working to earn the credibility and trust so central to a running store’s long-term viability. “The fact of the matter is that there isn’t one shoe on our wall that people can’t buy elsewhere, so when they come here they’re coming to see us and we want to deliver for them time and again,” Henderson says. n © 2019 Diversified Communications

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Getting a Proper Fit Fleet Feet data shows customers aren’t in tune with their foot shape. / By Daniel P. Smith


any Americans are wearing poorly fitted running shoes. While that’s a rather widely acknowledged reality among the nation’s sit-and-fit experts, compelling new data from Fleet Feet and Volumental underscores the extent of the problem and highlights the value of a proper shoe fitting that’s long been the hallmark of the running specialty channel. Analyzing data points from a bank of nearly one million 3D foot scans completed in their stores, Fleet Feet found that nearly one in five customers scanned with the company’s fit id system in 2018 had at least a half-size difference between their right and left foot lengths. Meanwhile, Volumental, Fleet Feet’s technology partner on the fit id platform, found that customers often did not account for foot width when determining their correct shoe size. Volumental’s study, for instance, found that 58 percent of men who purchased size 11 shoes would have been better suited with a narrower or wider width shoe. In addition, Volumental reported that individuals with the same foot length might have a difference of 20 millimeters or more when it came to width. The defining takeaway: much to their detriment, customers often overlook individual foot shape when determining correct shoe size. “Some people may like a more snug fit, while others may have just been mistakenly purchasing the shoe size they believed themselves to be instead of the size that best suits their total foot shape and dimensions,” says Fleet Feet director of brand management Victor Ornelas. The combined findings, which also factored in consumers’ past running shoe purchases, emphasize the need for consumer education when it comes to finding the right shoe fit, especially given that incorrect sizing can diminish comfort, performance and health. Blending knowledge and attentiveness 8

Fit id scanning allows sales associates to better understand foot shape and help achieve a proper fit.

with the tools at their disposal, which can range from high-tech 3D scanning solutions like fit id to foot mapping systems and the standard Brannock Device, running shops can recommend more precise solutions to their customers. At Fleet Fit, which introduced its fit id 3D scanning experience in 2017, Ornelas says the foot-scanning technology has allowed sales associates to better understand foot shape and help customers achieve a more

proper fit. Showing customers tangible data identifying differences in foot length, for instance, has spurred an increase in customers selecting a larger-sized shoe for improved fit. The company’s overall width business, meanwhile, jumped 12 percent last year. “Being able to both pinpoint and explain individual foot differences gives customers the ability to make more informed decisions grounded in comfort and personal preference,” Ornelas says. n

© 2019 Diversified Communications

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EMPOWERUN — FOR WOMEN ONLY Inaugural Women’s Industry Retreat will focus on leadership, collaboration and conversation.


wo prominent female running store owners have organized a two-day retreat for women in the running business this March that was created as “a forum for cross-collaboration, professional enrichment and to identify women who are willing to amplify the female point of view in their organizations, networks and the industry.” Kathy Dalby, of Pacers Running, and Burke Beck, of Red Coyote Running, have organized empowerun, which will take place March 3-5 in Sonoma, CA. The organizers say the goal for attendees is to “be inspired by, engage with, and seek to build our industry together with the unique point of view of the female leader.” The retreat will focus on three areas,

according to Dalby: • Leadership presence and professional growth. • Industry learning and strategy. • Collaboration and conversation. The retreat begins on Sunday, March 3,

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ON THREE AREAS: • Leadership presence and professional growth. • Industry learning and strategy. • Collaboration and conversation.

with a welcome reception and features two days of collaborative workshops. Topics include: • 10 Habits for Developing Leadership Presence. • Courageous Conversations to be a Successful Female Leader. • Best Leadership Practices as Industry Leaders. • Using Purpose to Drive Innovation. There will also be a leadership roundtable where women will share stories, hear from others and dive into their leadership styles. Featured speakers include Deanne Buck of Camber Outdoors, Wendy Yang of Deckers, Melanie Allen of Brooks, Claire Wood of New Balance and author Erin Strout. “This retreat was born out of our frustration will the lack of female leadership in the running industry,” says Beck. “Female runners currently make up more than half of the running population and it is time for our industry to reflect this change. “Many studies show that women network differently than men and for women seeking to a leadership positions in any industry one key to success can be forming relationships with other influential women,” she adds. “Empowerun hopes to create an authentic space where women in the running industry can build relationships, networks and lasting friendships that can forge paths for future generations of female leaders.” The first-year retreat is capped at 40 attendees and Dalby reports the group is already at capacity. Sponsors include Brooks, Hoka, New Balance, Upper Quadrant and Diversified Communications, owners of The Running Event and Best Running Stores in America Awards and Event. Empowerun is also endorsed by the Running Industry Association. More information can be found at or by contacting Kathy at or Burke at n

© 2018 Diversified Communications



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Nuun Goes (Even More) Natural Nuun Renovates Sports Hydration Line, Introduces Nuun Sport


uun, the sports drink supplement brand, has renovated its flagship product line with improved performance, consumer experience and packaging. The line is now called Sport and it replaces the product line previously named Electrolytes. Upgrades include cleaner ingredients, optimized electrolyte profile, improved taste, reduced dissolve time and streamlined branding and packaging. “We often ask ourselves, ‘If we started over today, how would we do it’,” says Kevin Rutherford, Nuun president and CEO. “This growth mindset has led our team to achieve extraordinary impact and it is the approach we took when challenging ourselves to improve the product that launched the Nuun

brand over 15 years ago. “We believe Nuun Sport is the new benchmark in the ‘better for you’ and ‘better for the planet’ sports and natural hydration categories,” he adds Designed by athletes for optimal hydration before, during and after workouts and activity, Nuun Sport replaces the Nuun Electrolytes line with cleaner ingredients that work better for the body. The line was previously plant-based, free of artificial ingredients, vegan, and gluten free, and has now additionally earned Non-GMO Project, Kosher and Informed-Sport third party verifications, alongside Nuun’s other tablet product lines that include Immunity and Vitamins. The performance of Nuun Sport has also

been improved utilizing the latest in exercise physiology with an optimized electrolyte profile, in precise dosages of all five electrolytes. “We added chloride to the electrolyte profile, given its role in fluid transport and electrolyte balance together with sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium,” explains Vishal Patel, Nuun senior research and development manager. “To maximize water absorption, we also updated the sodium and potassium values to achieve the ideal ratio of two-to-one.” Enhanced consumer experience was also a key innovation goal with Nuun Sport and blind taste research was conducted with current users and non-users of Nuun to validate the achievement of improved taste across all 13 flavors. The flavor and sweetness in Nuun



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Sport is derived from Non-GMO natural flavors and high-quality stevia leaf extract. In addition, the Nuun Sport flavors with caffeine include 40mg of organic green tea extract. With the refinement of ingredients, the Nuun team was also able to reduce the dissolve time allowing consumers to enjoy the product sooner. “Nuun Sport offered us the opportunity to update the branding and packaging across all of our products,” adds Lisa Spencer, Nuun VP-marketing. “Consumers will more easily be able to choose what Nuun is right for them from our current and future lines of hydration products while recognizing their favorite flavors.” Nuun Sport is available in 13 flavors and comes in 10 tablet recyclable tubes, providing “keep it in your bag” convenience so consumers can add Nuun’s hydration to their reusable water bottles anywhere, anytime. Nuun’s average retail price is $6.99 per tube, about 70-cents per serving. n Running_Insight_2019_half_page_Layout 1 2019-01-22 2:39 PM Page 1

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Get Your Nominations in Now! Deadline is in two weeks for nominations for revamped The Best Running Stores in America Awards.


he deadline for consumer nominations for The Best Running Stores in America Awards is February 15, 2019. Stores are encouraged to have their customers nominate them at forms/50_best_nominations To date more than 7000 nominations for more than 200 stores have been received and event organizers expect total nominations to exceed 10,000. “The number of nominations shows how passionately and powerfully consumers feel about their local running stores,” says Christina Henderson, event director for The Best Running Store Awards and The Running Event. “These nominations and testimonials from consumers play an important role in helping us understand what makes stores one of the best.” Diversified Communications, which purchased The Running Event and The Best Stores Awards last year, is expanding the annual awards program with a new set of criteria that more accurately reflects what being a great retailer is all about, according to Henderson “We’ll closely evaluate how a store engages with its customers and its community and that ultimately defines what makes a store one of the best in the country.” The El Conquistador Resort in Tucson, AZ.


Honoring the Best Stores

• Stores that make the list will be invited to The Best Store Awards & Conference in Tucson for the awards event, which will feature two days of conference sessions, networking and meetings with brand sponsors. • In addition, these stores will receive window signage and a social media tool kit to promote the award in their local community. • The list will also be published and promoted to consumers online throughout 2019. • And as an added perk, each store that attends the events will have their stores shopped and evaluated by Franklin Retail Solutions, the sports retail merchandising company that has evaluated stores since the awards were first presented 10 years ago. n The Awards Program will continue to name a “Store of the Year;” four finalists and a Top 10 list. And under the new format, the list could grow beyond 50 stores. The new rating system will pay increased attention to online ratings by consumers as well as a questionnaire that will be completed by the stores.Sponsoring vendors of the Best Store Awards will also evaluate nominated stores. Overall ratings using all scoring criteria will determine what stores make the list for 2019. Winning stores will be announced April 8, 2019, and all winners will be invited to attend a special event at El

Conquistador Resort in Tucson May 19-22, which will feature conference sessions, networking and meetings with brand sponsors. The conference will be sponsored by 25 leading suppliers to the run specialty channel, all of whom will host by-appointment meetings with retail attendees. In addition to the invitation-only event, award winning stores will receive a number of other benefits, which include: • Window signage and a social media tool kit to promote the award in their local community. • The list will also be published and promoted online throughout 2019. • And each store that attends the event will have their stores shopped and evaluated by Franklin Retail Solutions, the sports retail merchandising company that has evaluated stores since the awards were first presented 10 years ago. • Scholarships to The Running Event 2019, including a special half-day conference for the best stores in the country. Retailers with any questions about the evaluation process for The Best Store Awards should contact Mark Sullivan at Brands interested in sponsoring the awards event should contact Christina Henderson at n

© 2019 Diversified Communications


running shorts Aetrex Makes Key Sales Appointments


etrex has added two key sales executives to its growing global team. Jason Israel was appointed VP–business development in the Technology and Orthotics division and Renee Newman joins as the VP–sales, strategic footwear accounts. Israel comes to Aetrex with nearly two decades of sales and retail management experience in the footwear sector. Most recently he served as the senior VP–international sales, global e-commerce and stores for The Rockport Group. He has also held management positions for The Clarks Companies and Stride Rite Corporation. In his new position,

Israel will identify new strategic partnerships and key account opp or t u n it ies for the Aetrex Te c h n o l o g y and Or thotics division. He will repor t to Jason Israel Executive Vice President, Matt Schwartz. Newman brings 17 years of experience across sales, merchandising, product development and buying for prominent brands,

including The Clark’s Group, Papyr us and Macy’s. Most recently she wa s a c o n sult a nt for a va r iet y of prominent companies Renee Newman after a successful multi-year tenure as VP–merchandising and planning at Vionic. In her new role, Newman will work to identify and strengthen key account opportunities for Aetrex. n

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REIMAGINED. REENERGIZED. REIMAGINED.REENERGIZED. REENERGIZED. REIMAGINED. THE BEST MORE. THEBEST BEST+++MORE. MORE. THE Make sure your favorite running store Make sure your favorite running store iscelebrated celebrated Make sure your favorite running store is iscelebrated them bynominating nominating them asone one ofthe the 50Best Best inAmerica! America! bybynominating them asasone ofofthe 5050Best in inAmerica! Submit your nomination here! Submit your nomination here! Submit your nomination here!


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