Running Insight 4.1.2022

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MARCH 16, 2020 APRIL 1, 2022


Palmetto Running Company’s Christian Fyfe and Keri Straughn lead the run specialty industry’s ongoing sustainability focus.

The Sustainability Issue

SELLING GREEN How run shops are promoting sustainability to do well by doing good. / By Daniel P. Smith


are increasingly getting behind environmental initiatives, promoting such efforts to their communities and often finding a receptive audience excited to contribute to a healthier planet.

t was an admittedly small, simple move, albeit an important one for the leaders at the Fleet Feet store in Decatur, GA. Earlier this year, the downtown Decatur running shop placed recycling bins at its three main fit benches as well as a larger recycling bin near its entrance. The move helped to ensure that the cardboard and paper inserts typically accompanying running shoes stay out of the trash and are recycled instead. Though a modest step from one Georgia running shop, Alex Sessa, who coordinates sustainable initiatives at Fleet Feet Decatur and its Peachtree City sister store, believes these tiny moves produce a larger net effect. Starting a Movement “It’s starting a movement in the right direction and finding the small things that can be done,” Sessa says, adding that the Fleet Feet Decatur and Peachtree City stores also recycle and upcycle used sneakers and recently began recycling performance nutrition packets as well. “As folks in the outdoor recreation community, we have the ability to do great things in sustainability and retain enjoyable experiences for the next generation.” Run shops across the country

Schaumburg, IL-based Xtra Mile Running recently began participating in the GU Energy Performance Nutrition Recycling Program (PNRP) with TerraCycle. The run specialty shop is also in its fourth year as a USAgain drop site for used shoes and apparel.

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2022 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published monthly, 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.



Christina Daemon Filson....................................................... Glenn Mark Sullivan....................................................



Cultivating Earth-Friendly Eco-Habits TerraCycle and GU Energy Labs par tnered together in 2015 to create the GU Energy Performance Nutrition Recycling Program (PNRP). Within its first six years, the partnership upcycled more than 1.7 million pieces of performance nutrition packaging. The packaging from energy gels, chews and drink mixes is shredded and melted into hard plastic to make new recycled products, such as shipping pallets, bike racks, park benches and garden beds. Rock City Running in Little Rock, AR, is among a swelling number of running retailers participating in the PNRP effort, which also includes dozens of Fleet Feet stores, A Runner’s Mind in San Francisco, Wagner’s RunWalk in Tuscaloosa, AL, and Xtra Mile Running in Schaumburg, IL. Rock City Running owner Bill Torrey and store manager Bill Bulloch grew disenchanted at seeing discarded nutrition packaging littering the ground


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Selling Green (continued)

For run shops like Fleet Feet Decatur, small efforts such as placing recycling bins near fitting benches and a dedicated recycling area represent low-hanging fruit in the movement to create a more sustainable planet.

at races and sought a more eco-conscious solution. They joined PNRP earlier this year. “As runners, we are outside regularly and care about the environment we live in,” Tor rey says. “Rock City Running believes this is a worthwhile cause and a small step in trying to improve the environment.” At t he Lit tle Rock Marathon on March 5-6, Rock City Running placed specially marked nutrition packaging recycling boxes at the start lines, water stops and throughout the racecourse. Rock City Running will repeat that effort at this month’s Capital City Classic 10K and has plans to provide the recycling boxes at other local endurance events as well. “Our hope is runners will embrace this type of recycling at races,” Torrey says. Calling Out To Customers While Xtra Mile Running is but a month into its involvement with PNRP, owner Chris Schiel is confident it will resonate with customers, especially if Xtra Mile can be consistent with its messaging to athletes about dropping off their used packaging at the store. “Many of our customers have shared over the years that they use gels because it works best for them, but they wish it didn’t cause so much waste,” Schiel says. The PNRP complements Xtra Mile’s longstanding efforts with USAgain as a shoe and apparel collection point. Since opening in


April 2018, Xtra Mile has contributed more than 3100 pounds of shoes and apparel to USAgain for recycling. Schiel says many of Xtra Mile’s customers and run club members habitually donate their apparel and shoes, which helps power USAgain’s efforts to cloth the indigent, reduce greenhouse gases, preserve water resources and plant trees. As for a direct business benefit, Schiel says there are occasional customers who discover Xtra Mile through the USAgain website, while the store also offers a $5 discount on purchases over $20 as an incentive to spur store visits and donations. “The benefit is in reducing our carbon footprint both as a business and as a running community,” Schiel says. Shoe Collectors Make A Green Move In Virginia, Running Etc. has been collecting used running shoes for more than three decades. While most shoes stay local and head to area schools or homeless shelters, more “beat-up” pairs go to the MORE Foundation Group, a non-profit that collects old athletic shoes for re-use and for funding reforestation. A recent Certificate of Ca rbon Offset from the MOR E Foundation to Run n ing Etc. noted the Norfolk store’s donation of 1000 pairs of athletic shoes, which spurred the planting of 5000 trees and pulled down some 250,000 pounds of carbon each year. Running Etc. shared this message on

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Selling Green (continued) its Instagram page with several commenters requesting more information or pledging to bring in shoes soon. “We’re trying to tell a story

that people don’t have to get rid of their old shoes and that we’ve got a good place for them,” Running Etc. owner Mike Robinson says.

With constant talk about climate change and global warming, Robinson can’t help but think efforts like this help protect the environment and

elevate Running Etc.’s name. “We don’t see people rolling their eyes at this,” he says. “It’s a service we provide and people are appreciative of it.” n

0.0 Effort: How one race is bringing a ‘greener’ experience to runners

TRUTH BE TOLD, THE INAUGURAL Heineken 0.0 Pittsburgh Earth Day 5K Run owes its start to Heineken’s new 0.0 Non-Alcoholic beer, but some ingenuity from events company P3R is bringing a new and greener running experience to Steel City athletes in the process. The Earth Day-themed 5K event on April 9 features numerous eco-conscious initiatives, including a paperless check-in process, a cup-less course, a shoe recycling station and recyclable bibs. In one particularly clever – and sustainable – twist, the finisher’s medal doubles as a bottle opener. P3R CEO Troy Schooley says many of these environmentally minded changes were easy to implement given that the Heineken 0.0 race will max out at 250 participants. The key part, he notes, is communicating expectations to runners. “For example, we will be reminding them that there are no cups on the course and that they need to bring their own water bottle,” Schooley says. “We are also asking them to bring their old shoes for recycling.” Schooley calls the Heineken 0.0 event “good practice” for P3R to thoughtfully consider how it can make its larger events, including the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, more sustainable. It’s also an opportunity to encourage runners to consider their impact on the environment. “We hope that after the [Heineken 0.0] event, runners continue to think about how they can adjust some of their running habits to be more sustainable and better for the planet,” he says. 6

From a cup-less course to a finisher’s medal that doubles as a bottle opener, P3R is bringing numerous eco-conscious elements to this month’s Heineken 0.0 Pittsburgh Earth Day 5K. It’s work that will propel initiatives at some of P3R’s larger races, including the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon.

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The Sustainability Issue


Palmetto Running Company’s Low Impact Alliance aims to elevate environmental responsibility in run specialty.


n just one calendar year, the apparel and footwear industries account for an estimated eight percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. That’s nearly four metric gigatons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere each year. In the face of various environmental, social and governmental challenges, the run specialty industry and its respective brands and retailers must adopt new strategies in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint and extend the life of our planet. One of the more intriguing and ambitious efforts in the run specialty industry is being spearheaded by Keri Straughn and Christian Fyfe, owners of Palmetto Running Company in Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, SC. Running Insight reached out to the sister-brother combo to explain the Low Impact Alliance and how the run specialty industry can get involved and benefit.

Looking Good

Keri Straughn: “To do our part, in late 2021 Palmetto Running Company launched The PRC Eco-Initiative with the collective goal to purchase and sell more sustainable, recycled and eco-friendly products as well as to find new ways to improve the sustainability of our planet and, more directly, our local environment. With the support we received both in our local community and the overall running industry, as well as being recognized at the 2021 Running Event with the Impact Award presented by On, Christian and I felt it was the right time to take our mission to the industry level.” Christian Fyfe: “In December we launched the Low Impact Alliance, an industry-wide alliance of brands, retailers and events to promote transparency and environmental responsibility


The sister and brother team of Keri Straughn and Christian Fyfe are making a green impact by promoting sustainable products in the two Palmetto Running stores and in the run specialty industry.

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their staff on the efforts being made by brands in the industry and how to bring that up when speaking to their products with customers. We will also be going over how to host local events in your community, marketing topics on social platforms and then finishing the conversation in-store. “A major goal for 2022 is educating retailers on the environmental impacts of the running industry and how they can make small strides for big change while creating internal demand for a more responsible running industry.”

within the running industry by educating, advocating and inspiring action for impactful change. Since then we’ve built a growing list of members on all industry levels and have connected with many leaders in our industry, advocating for the necessary changes that need to be made towards eco-friendly manufacturing and shipping processes, responsible material sourcing and sustainable end-of-life practices and opportunities. “Climate change and sustainability are very complicated and often hard to talk about, especially when the wording and metrics haven’t truly been defined or agreed upon yet as they pertain to the running industry.”

Fyfe: “Another important initiative for this year is to inspire the global running community to be as environmentally minded as they are performance minded, becoming their own advocates for change and influencing and evolving consumer behavior to think holistically about

Straughn: “This year we are focusing on starting the conversation through webinars and educational resources. We are going to be focusing on educating retailers on how to train

The Low Impact Alliance Explained

THE LOW IMPACT ALLIANCE IS A global organization advocating for a more responsible running industry. Together it seeks to promote transparency and environmental responsibility by educating, inspiring action and advocating for change. • Advocating for transparency and sustainability in all facets of the running industry, from supply chains to retailers. By advocating for more sustainable products and production practices, the industry can lower the environmental impact running has on the planet. • Educating retailers on the ecological impacts of the running industry and how they can make small strides for big change. By educating retailers of the small changes they can make


performance minded, LIA can change consumer behavior to think holistically about the full lifecycle of a product. From the store level and all the way to the manufacturing and shipping of goods by major brands, the LIA goal is to foster the success and longevity of both our industry and planet.

to both lower their own environmental impact as well as become advocates of change, LIA can help create internal demand for a more responsible running industry. • Inspir ing the global r unning community to become their own advocates of change. By inspiring the global running community to be as environmentally minded as they are

Brand and Retailer Partners include: On (co-founders), Brooks, Nike, RIA, Fleet Feet, Around the Crown, Trials for Miles, Palmetto Running Company (co-founders), Mill City + Saint City Running and A Runner’s Mind. Commit to joining the alliance and becoming an advocate for change in the industry: @lowimpactalliance

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High Impact (continued)

Brooks Canopy Jacket: Brooks’ most responsibly-made product with 100 percent recycled materials is bluesign certified. Vuori Tuvalu Tee: Pima cotton with natural SeaCell fiber (seaweed and sustainable wood pulp). Allbirds Tree Dasher 2: The Tree Dasher 2 is carbon neutral thanks to sustainable practices, like using more natural materials and funding high-impact carbon projects. But before Allbirds balanced the emissions, its footprint started at 10.7 kg CO2e (a five percent reduction from the original Tree Dasher).

the full lifecycle of a product. Retailers must understand that we are the true influencers of our industry. It’s time to use our power for good. “We view the Low Impact Alliance website as the resource to refer to regarding environmental responsibility within the run specialty space. Not only will it offer retailers a clearer view in to what every brand is doing to lower their carbon footprint, it will also provide retailers and race directors a framework on everyday sustainable business practices and a detailed guide to directing eco-friendly events.” Straughn: “The LIA website will also include a forum for anyone, whether a member or not, to ask questions on how to run their business or events more sustainably. None of us are experts at this and many of us are just getting started. We feel like this will provide a great platform for everyone to come together to share ideas and inspire one another to do our part in protecting our planet. “Most recently, the Low Impact Alliance was invited to speak at the 2022 Brooks Symposium at

Brooks headquarters in Seattle, WA. Following an inspiring presentation on their People and Planet Path, led by Dave Kemp, Brooks director of corporate responsibility, Brooks voiced their appreciation for the work the Low Impact Alliance is doing and announced that they have officially joined as a brand member. Fyfe: “Surrounded by the entire Brooks executive team as well as store owners from the top running stores in the country, Keri and I were given the opportunity to present the Low Impact Alliance and our mission to industry pillars that we have looked up to for many years. It was a surreal experience.” Straughn: “The outpouring of support and admiration we received from everyone in attendance was incredibly rewarding.” Fyfe: “It truly validated the work we are doing and gave us hope that the running industry is ready to make the responsible and necessary changes needed to foster the success and longevity of both our industry and planet.” n

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The Sustainability Issue

HAPPY RETURNS Pacers Running launches Relay as sustainable solution to the challenge of footwear returns.


ooking to find ways to make run specialty a more sustainable business – while at the same time finding a solution to the ongoing challenge of product returns – Pacers Running has co-founded a company called Relay to transform returns into a revenue opportunity. Relay was launched by Pacers Running in partnership with Patton Gleason in 2021 to receive, refurbish and resell highquality returns to value-savvy consumers and reduce waste along the way. Relay, which is an e-commerce site operated by Pacers Running, currently counts Brooks, Altra and Saucony as vendor partners, with 80 percent of the top 12 footwear brands expected on the platform by fall as the concept takes shape. “Returned product has long been a challenge for both retailers and brands and as retailers we want to provide the best experience possible to the consumer, which means we often provide very flexible return policies,” explains Chris Farley, president of Pacers Running, adding that the brands it sells support it by offering the same returns flexibility. “It’s great for the consumer, but it leads to a lot of headaches on the back end and can create waste and sustainability challenges,” he adds. “With Relay, we have a solution that is a win for retailers, vendors, the consumer and the planet.” Here’s how it works: • For consumers, the Relay website provides a trusted place to purchase quality shoes at attractive prices. With a strong quality assurance program combined with a run specialty level of customer service, consumers can feel confident in their purchase. • For vendors, Relay converts returns from an expensive liability into an opportunity to drive sales and dramatically reduce 12

Relay was launched by Pacers Running to receive, refurbish and resell high-quality returns and reduce waste — a win-win-win for retailers, vendors, consumers and the environment.

the amount of supply chain waste. Also, by keeping returns in the run specialty ecosystem Relay helps keep those shoes off of third party marketplaces and grey markets. • The product is contained on the retailer’s website as if it is in their inventory, but it is fulfilled out of Relay’s inventory. Currently the returns come from the brands, but the plan is to eventually receive returns

directly from the retailers on the brands’ behalf. The product is a mix of vendor returns, retailer RAs and off-MAP models. • For Pacers Running, Relay is part of its growth plans and helps to fulfill its mission to help as many people as possible through running. Relay gives it a new way to do just that by making affordable, quality product available. • The eco benefit is realized as run

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Happy Returns (continued)

specialty vendors continue to make sustainability is a priority. By providing an outlet for their returned product, Relay keeps the supply chain much more efficient by getting shoes off of pallets in a warehouse and onto people’s feet. Farley stresses that Relay is a solution for retailers and vendors who have already invested tremendously to refine their refurbishment process through years of experience handling returns. “While it’s a very unique challenge that requires a heavy lift, we think the solution will benefit everyone,” Farley says. “Brands will be able to have a trusted source for returns that keeps shoes off of grey markets and third party marketplaces while retailers will be able to tap into the Relay inventory and be able to sell a new category to their customers without the logistical pain points.” Gleason, co-founder of Relay, emphasizes that returns have long been a challenge without a great solution as every year tens of thousands of premium running shoes go to waste sitting in warehouses because they were tried on once and returned. Some will get donated, destroyed or sit on pallets at the back of warehouses forever. Many of these will end up on the grey market, causing havoc for brands and retailers. “Relay is the first channelspecific returns solution that helps athletic shoe brands reclaim lost revenue, attract new customers and reduce waste,” Gleason points out. “Our quality assurance process converts over 90 percent of returns into a re-sellable product with a suite of a la carte services designed

specifically for athletic footwear brands. “My team brings a decade of experience handling returns and refurbishing athletic footwear,” he adds. “We have the infrastructure, the people and a best-in-the-world process. The missing piece was a partner with a passion for the cause and could tie it all together between the brands, retailers and, most importantly, the consumer.” That’s where Pacers Running comes in with its commitment to the customer experience and the understanding of the challenges that are specific to run specialty. “With our combined forces, we are thrilled to be tackling this huge challenge that creates positive outcomes for all parties and the planet,” says Gleason. “Pacers’ vision is to help as many people as possible through running and Relay is an exciting opportunity for us to create more runners and to work with our brands and run specialty partners to put more shoes on more people,” adds Kathy Dalby, CEO of Pacers Running.” This is a major investment as we continue to build one of the largest omnichannel retail solutions in run specialty.” Relay’s next project is to make the entire catalog of refurbished inventory available via a custom product feed for run specialty retailers to sell refurbished shoes on their own sites. Approved retailers will be able serve customers without having to deal with sorting, refurbishing, storing and fulfillment with the assurance that every unit goes through a rigorous 10 point quality assurance process, with only the best being made available for sale. n

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The Relay process involves cleaning, repairing and getting returned shoes ready for resale within the run specilaty retail chain.


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The Sustainability Issue

Sustainable Strategies

Presenting three ways retailers can do their part in the eco discussion. / By Tom Griffen


ow important is a sustainability plan for run retailers? Shoot, you already know the answer. But let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with what this current buzzword actually means. Sustainability conversations come in a zillion forms. Keep it basic and surfacy and you’re beating the same old dead horse about hiring, staff retention, customer acquisition, community connection and things like that. But allow the topic to expand into modernity and suddenly it’s a litany of other things, too: A company’s non-financial performance, its driving purpose and clearly defined values and belief systems. Both the historical and modern discussions are crucial ponderings for a business’s ultimate success. But the latter, now more than ever, needs to happen like yesterday. Why? Because our customers have become exponentially more thoughtful about where they want to put their money and time. What’s to blame? This tragic, yet transformative, global pandemic. Trimming the Fat In all its iterations, COVID-19 took the world’s status quo and flipped it on its head. One outcome of this interruption has been communal introspection. People are suddenly thinking longer and harder about what really matters. Everyone’s questioning their jobs, personal relationships, consumption of time and goods and darn near everything else. We’re trimming the fat and excluding the fluff in an attempt to live richer, more significant lives. The global community is deepening authentic connections and happily discarding the rest. This collective moment is unprecedented in our lifetimes — and it’s absolutely leaving a mark.


Sustainability comes in many forms, but at its heart is a concern for and commitment to making the world a better place, which is what run specialty retailers do every day. Photo by Nikola Jovanovic on Unsplash.

This examination is reinventing relationships to every planetary landscape, literal and figurative. Folks are solidifying beliefs, opinions, stances and taking time to scrutinize the nitty gritty in an effort to align their lives to their personal ethics. Sustainability is the en vogue parlance that encapsulates what this shift in perspective means. For this reason alone, sustainability needs to be on your radar. Business journals are humming with mention of a sudden and exponential increase in a specific internet search value —“ethical brands.” People what to know more about a company’s beliefs before they swipe their card.

Other surveys have shown that people are willing to revamp their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. Nobody can say for sure whether or not these trending topics will become the new consumer paradigm. But one thing’s for sure — such thoughtful filters are regularly being applied to each of your run specialty stores. Like it or not, what you say, do, proclaim and energetically exude is being studied top to bottom by current and potential customers. Hope all you want that this close-looking is positively affecting the bottom line, but also know this — hope is not enough. So, back to the opening question. How

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Sustainable Strategies (continued) do this, the more likely you are to attract like-minded people to your sphere who, in turn, are thrilled to have found you. Example: Once you lock down why you do what you do and how you are committed to doing it, post a one-minute video on social media of you enthusiastically sharing it all. Don’t sweat the production quality. Concern yourself only with being honest and genuine. If you build it, they will come.

How important is a sustainability plan for run retailers? In a word — extremely.

important is a sustainability plan for run retailers? In a word — extremely. And make no mistake, it always has been. But these days it’s the detail that either makes you wildly attractive or easy to eschew. And make no mistake, you are either one or the other. There’s nothing in between. How can you immediately uptick your sustainability story?

Take a look at the following three ways to run a smarter, better and more globally conscious business. 1. PUBLICLY (RE)COMMIT TO WHAT YOU DO Reaffirm your beliefs and then share your commitment to them with staff, community and brand partnerships to ensure they take hold. The more you

More than ever, run specialty retailers need to be shouting from the highest rooftops about who they are, what they do and why it matters.

2. CONSIDER A REGENERATION STRATEGY Product lifespan flow has always looked pretty much the same — Stores produce (order the goods), stores deliver (sell the goods), customers trash (use the goods) and then all is repeated. Can we change this to be more sustainable? Maybe we can instead incorporate the idea of “circular economics” wherein we decrease our dependence on landfills while still thriving. Example: Partner with local non-profits that might benefit from used hand-me-downs. Don’t just limit this to shoes, either. Apparel and accessories are often left out of the donation conversation. 3. SCRUTINIZE YOUR VALUE CHAINS If you analyze departmental processes, odds are you’ll find details that can be changed for the better. Consider time, material resources, technology, fossil fuels, etc. as you break down essential processes then make minor changes to incrementally improve planetary health. Example: Take buying, for example. Draw up everything a buyer does – from viewing lines to purchasing to merchandising


– and ask if anything can be done to make things less environmentally impactful. Still using scads of paper? Stop! Still t raveling to fa raway places in multiple vehicles to see product lines that could be carpooled to or viewed virtually? Change! Wasting time with old tech because that’s how it’s always been done? Evolve! One minor tweak may not seem like much, but a collection of small, smart gestures always add up to greatness. Going Above and Beyond It’s no longer enough to have great service, a gorgeous shop, a sweet return policy or glitzy website. Gone are the days when your love of running and helping people is a sufficient foundation for a successful business model. Now, more than ever, you need to be shouting from the highest rooftops about who you are, what you do and why it doggone matters. Your dedication to being sustainable will attract the right people — the sorts of people who will help ensure you’re around in another 10, 20 years. The sorts who know precisely how they fit into your business equation because — why? Because you told them so. Shared ethics are a powerful driving force and COVID initiated a fresh awareness around what really matters. Whether that’s how well you treat employees, how you choose your community partners, why brands land on your racks or how willing you are to rethink and alter past patterns, your public sustainability story is driving brand loyalty. Make sure you’re locking yours down with a quickness. n © 2022 Diversified Communications

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The Sustainability Issue

Giving Back

Retailers can team with brands and non-profits to make the world a little greener. / By Tonya Russell


t’s easy to overlook how our running practices could impact the planet. After all, runners spend thousands per year to race and be well enough to train. We may not even tally up those fast-fashion throwaway clothes we purchase for race day, or the gas to get us to and from our destinations. (It’s starting to add up, amiright?) And those two examples of how our desire to PR can hurt the planet don’t even scratch the surface. That’s why many running retailers have been doing their part to keep our training gear out of the landfill. Athletic brands are getting smarter. Brands such as Allbirds and many others have their entire missions wrapped around reducing a runner’s carbon footprint, and even big-boy companies like Adidas and Nike have lines made with recycled plastic. Retailers Going the Extra Mile Run specialty stores are certainly realizing their unique position. Many, such as Palmetto Running Company, have been hosting plogging events, and then there is the Runkeeper App, which encourages runners to get out and clean up their communities. Retailers such as Philly Runner have also hosted events that help keep parks and waterways safe for children and wildlife. Plogging efforts are a start, but many retailers are going the extra mile. Take Fleet Feet of Roanoke, VA, for example, which partners with a local organization, Rescue Mission Ministries. They have a donation bin outside — the shoes in good shape will be sold at RM’s thrift shops and the ones that don’t get recycled. The mission isn’t necessarily profiting off of their stores, since residents of local shelters are given vouchers to go shop. Marketing director Casey Lewis says that 20

The run specialty business needs to take its environmental impact seriously with sustainable practices.

brands are happy to donate demo shoes, which are also circulated into the store’s donation program. They are given to children in Fleet Feet’s non-profit as well. “We have a non-profit called Project Forward, which our owner started in 2015, with the goal of putting shoes on need-feet in Roanoke,” says Lewis. The program has helped countless Boys and Girls clubs, as well as local crosscountry and track programs that may struggle with buying spikes and trainers for their kids.

As far as sustainable shoes, Lewis mentions that some of their larger brands offer carbon neutral shoes, including Mizuno, and that Fleet Feet will be carrying their new sneakers. On a Mission in Pottstown Chester County Running Store in Pottstown, PA, is on a mission to reduce its carbon footprint. Former owner and current manager Don Morrison explains that they’ve been partnering with companies that help them to recycle donated shoes, as

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

Giving Back (continued)

Fleet Feet Roanoke partners with local organizations to get donated shoes on the feet of boys and girls.


well as shoes that are returned but too worn down to sell. “That company recycles shoes that are still in good, usable condition and packs them and sends them to African schools,” he explains. As for the shoes that are beyond use, Morrison explains that they have a recycling plant that chops the shoes and resells those rubber chips to help build things like playgrounds. “We send three or four cases of shoes every month,” Morrison adds. There are quite a few companies dedicated to making running carbon neutral. One such outf it is One World Running, which collects and distributes shoes in Africa, Central and South America. Some of these shoes are often given to military recruits as well who want to serve in the United States military, but don’t have the means to purchase a new pair of cross-trainers. Kentucky-based nonprofit Waterstep has helped people in more than 60 countries have access to clean water and the process actually involves running footwear. After collecting shoes (they prefer athletic shoes), they are resold and any profit goes towards buying purification systems, such as chlorine tanks, to help clean up water. Storm-ravaged areas like Puerto Rico benefit and Kenya, where more than 18 million residents lack access to safe drinking water, feel the love as well. There are a plethora of means for running stores to center the environment in their outreach efforts. After all, one pair of shoes donated equals one pair of shoes that stays out of a landfill a little longer. n © 2022 Diversified Communications

NOV 29 - DEC 1, 2022 Austin Convention Center | Austin, TX


Secure your booth at run specialty’s premier event With hundreds of leading US retailers in attendance, #TRE22 is a can’t-miss event for your brand.

WHAT #TRE21 EXHIBITORS ARE SAYING “The sheer number of industry professionals and decision-makers in the room makes it not only a great business driver, but also a not-to-miss networking event.” “The quality of conversations was fantastic!” “[TRE] is a valuable tradeshow that brings together buyers and owners of specialty shops. It’s a great opportunity to connect with brands for future collaborations.”

Ready to get started? Contact our sales team today! Produced by:

The Sustainability Issue

Does Green Matter?

Three retailers weigh in on whether sustainability is sustainable in selling running shoes and apparel. / By Cregg Weinmann


ustainability is an oft-used word in our modern world regarding materials and processes that impact our environment. There are many products to satisfy the needs of the increasing number of runners to whom a brand’s environmental efforts matter. As a result, the processes involved in their production, as well as the resources of their makeup, are coming under increasing scrutiny, seemingly reaching a crescendo in today’s socio-political climate. Our favorite products as runners can sometimes fly under the social radar with people otherwise supportive of practices that are aimed at saving the planet, because running is among the most effective activities for overall health and fitness. As a result, there is no good reason not to be concerned about having a habitable planet on which to run. Rather than being resigned that the materials and processes used to produce our favorite running shoes, apparel and equipment are a necessary evil, the truth is that many of them are actually quite good in spite of their reliance on processes that may be viewed as harmful to the environment. Kudos go out to the manufacturers whose products have become cleaner and greener in recent years, though the obscurity of the manufacturing process hides their actual sustainable nature as well as their environmental impact. We reached out to three retailers from different parts of the country to gauge just exactly what that interest is. 24

Bob Coll, Eugene Running Co., Eugene, OR “Sustainability seems to be critically important to the youngest consumers. Twenties and Teens are most interested. My hunch is there will be considerable differences based on geography. “Here in Eugene, there is lots of interest. We get regular questions about Allbirds because of their well-known green initiative. With our heavy Nike slant we’re introducing their Next Nature shoes this year and I have big expectations. I’m sure other brands will be following.” Robb Finnegan, recently retired manager at Lincoln Running Company and former owner of Fit Right Northwest in Portland, OR “I do think it’s important, but it depends more on where the customer is from. Here in Nebraska, I don’t think the consumer really is going to make their buying choice on if it’s sustainable or not. On the other hand, the Portland (Oregon) consumer would probably make a different choice and lean to the more sustainable product.”

David Spetnagel, Owner, Fleet Feet, St. Charles, MO “I asked our shoe fitting associates to provide ‘recent examples of customers expressing any type of interest in the eco-friendliness of their shoes.’ The results were surprising. “N o n e re p o r t e d a customer proactively expressing an interest in sustainability. It was, however, reported that some customers seem swayed when we inform them of a particular style’s eco-friendliness. The latest Brooks Ghost is perhaps the best example of that message seeming to move the needle. That said, sustainability is not a complete afterthought to our customers. Very few request a bag for their purchases and many make the effort to drop off their old shoes for recycling/donation.” The recent move by many manufacturers to Supercritical foams, produced by using nitrogen as the blowing agent – the same nitrogen which makes up 78 percent of the air we breathe — has made the most technical foams more efficient, more durable and more comfortable on the roads and trails. Whether customers are asking for the most environmentally friendly products or the most technical, now they don’t have to choose between the two. There is a similar move to make the upper materials equally green without compromising the performance in the rest of the shoe. So feel free to breathe a little easier, both figuratively as well as literally. n

© 2022 Diversified Communications

NOV 29 - DEC 1, 2022 Austin Convention Center | Austin, TX

EDUCATE AND INSPIRE AT #TRE22 Interested in speaking at The Running Event 2022? We’re looking for diverse voices to share their perspectives and expertise with our passionate run specialty community.

More than 60 thought leaders spoke at #TRE21, including: • Members of non-profits such as the Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC) and American Trail Running Foundation • Employees of top US run specialty retailers, including Charlotte Running Company and Pacers Running • Race-specific experts representing events and brands such as Falmouth Road Race and the Atlanta Track Club • Stakeholders from run specialty brands including On, Nuun, and Salomon

The 2022 Call for Education will open in May. Stay tuned for more information.

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Coming Full Cirql OrthoLite positions itself to be a sustainable ally to run specialty. / By Daniel P. Smith


att Smith calls EVA, the prominent foam used in most running shoe midsoles, “the elephant in the room.” Smith and his OrthoLite teammates are trying to kick that elephant out and provide the run specialty marketplace a sustainable solution it can be proud to champion. On March 1, the Massachusetts-based company best known for producing the insoles found in footwear from the likes of Under Armour, New Balance and On, unveiled Cirql, billed as the world’s first EVA plastics-free, recyclable, biodegradable and industrially compostable foam. “We’re not just chipping away at the idea of sustainability, but rather creating a brand new loop and a soil-to-soil solution that doesn’t exist anywhere else,” says Smith, VP&GM of Cirql, OrthoLite’s new business unit located in Vietnam. OrthoLite first conceived of Cirql (pronounced “circle”) in late 2017 to combat the environmental problems inherent in conventional foams, which are permanently bound together ingredients without a suitable end-of-life option. With some 20 billion pairs of shoes produced each year, millions of tons of waste entered the globe’s soils and waterways leaching toxic chemicals. “These materials perform exceptionally well, but the problem is that they never disappear,” OrthoLite VP–innovation Rob Falken says. “It’s an almost overwhelming realization to multiply the effect of persistent plastics by some 20 billion pairs of shoes being produced each year.” Through a rigorous, multi-year R&D process, OrthoLite crafted Cirql as an antidote to that environmental ill: a mono-material foam hitting on comfort and performance metrics as well as ambitious eco-conscious targets. “Cirql is bold,” OrthoLite founder and 26

OrthoLite already partners with more than 350 leading footwear brands and is looking to increase its presence in performance running with the introduction of Cirql.

CEO Glenn Barrett says. “It has the power to affect positive change on a global scale.” Since debuting Cirql on March 1, Smith says OrthoLite has seen an enormous “level of interest … from every brand under the sun.” Of note, OrthoLite already partners with more than 350 leading footwear brands, including performance run stalwarts such as Adidas, ASICS and Hoka. “It’s hard not to see the drive from consumers making more and more choices around sustainability and companies trying to increase their green credentials,” Smith says. OrthoLite is preparing to go into development with footwear brands in 2023. While Smith says market development will likely occur with casual footwear players first, he sees exciting potential for Cirql’s midsole solution to resonate with performance run players, so many of whom have embraced sustainable initiatives, materials and products over recent years. “I would expect [Cirql’s] story to resonate

perfectly with run specialty,” Smith says, noting that OrthoLite will start with one grade of Cirql before building out additional performance products. “We’re going to give brands an opportunity to sing from the rooftops about this.” To make headway with performance running’s footwear brands, Smith acknowledges performance must be top notch. In fact, he calls performance “the golden egg” in a footwear field where elements such as weight, responsiveness and underfoot feel are so critical, so dissected and aggressively debated on social media, blogs and online forums. In testing Cirql’s performance against EVA, Falken calls any differences “virtually indistinguishable.” “Cirql has equal or better elongation properties, tensile strength properties, rebound properties and compression properties,” Falken says. “We’ve repeatedly refined our polymer, our mono-material ingredient and our resulting foam to be world class in comfort and performance.” n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


All In With Eco Mizuno has committed to sustainability in its entire product line this year. / By Carly Russo


eing green can mean many different things for apparel brands looking to minimize their carbon footprint. While the push for sustainability has been significant in the running industry, it will still likely take a bit more before many brands can fully integrate eco-friendly practices into every aspect of their business. So, how can runners be sure the brands they are shopping are making an impact now? For starters they can ask Mizuno, the running brand that will be integrating eco-friendly and bio-based materials into its entire product line by the end of the year. Mizuno began shifting its product line in 2021 with the release of its Fall/Winter collection, where it introduced recycled and bio-based materials. Now, the company plans to have all of its North American products be bio-based by June of this year. “At the end of the day, people want to buy products they feel good about,” says Tina Danforth, product manager–running footwear and apparel. Mizuno ensures customers can feel good about its running products by partnering with companies that source sustainable materials, such as Arkema, which produces a range of eco-friendly materials comprised of castor oil beans, and Bloom, a company that produces algae-based sustainable materials that will soon be introduced in Mizuno’s running shoes. Partnerships are big for Mizuno this year, as the brand has re-signed with the National Forest Foundation to contribute to the organization’s mission to preserve the health of the country’s forests and grasslands. The partnership will help the National Forest Foundation plant trees for every dollar spent. Runners can likely 27

With the release of its Fall/Winter collection Mizuno is expanding its commitment to recycled materials.

expect more news of the partnership from Mizuno later this year. In addition to more bio-based products and expanding partnerships, Mizuno has taken an extra step with its shoeboxes, now more sustainable by making them fully recyclable and undyed. “I think everybody wants brands to be more sustainable,” says Danforth. Mizuno’s new shoeboxes will not only be recyclable, but they will also feature a

unique QR code that takes customers to a landing page where they can track the brand’s sustainability goals and conservation efforts. The change in shoeboxes is not just intended for customers — they were created with retailers in mind as well. The goal was to make shoeboxes that retailers can easily dispose of in bulk because often they are left with a bunch of leftover shoeboxes and can’t properly get rid of them if they aren’t recyclable. Mizuno’s new shoeboxes will help retailers decrease their carbon footprint, too. Mizuno firmly believes that by helping retailers become more sustainable they in turn become more attractive to their customers. As consumers increasingly become more conscious about the products they shop, both running brands and retailers can benefit from more sales by promoting sustainability within stores. “It will contribute to repeat business. It’s a good morale feeling for customers,” says Danforth. n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


POW-er Moves Buff partners with Protect Our Winters to advocate for the outdoors.


n the world of eco-friendly activewear, partnerships with environmental organizations are causing brands to make major strides in the sustainability space. Though brands are increasingly becoming more dedicated to better practices such as using recycled materials, some are looking externally as well to help mitigate their impact. One vendor making this effort is Buff, the headwear and neckwear brand that recently strengthened its partnership with Protect Our Winters (POW) to continue to advocate for climate change awareness and its effect on outdoor sports. “POW’s mission aligns perfectly with our company’s purpose and inspiring everyone to ‘Do More Now,’” says global marketing director Thierry Peuchot. “Acting now is crucial if we want things to change and joining forces with meaningful organizations will only amplify our common message,” POW for the Environment POW is a non-profit founded by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones in 2007. The organization’s purpose is to affect systemic solutions for climate change by creating a community of athletes, outdoor enthusiasts and advocates working to protect the environment and the outdoor sports industry. Buff’s partnership with the organization will increase its financial support of POW to $50,000 this year. Runners will be among the first to benefit from the partnership. The increased contribution from Buff gives includes an exclusive collection that is entirely dedicated to POW to sport on their next run. Featuring the brand’s EcoStretch Multifunctional Neckwear, the new collection is designed by artist and outdoor guide, Jess Gilbert. “As we accelerate our sustainability 28

program, it made complete sense for us to up the stakes and commit to a global partnership with POW,” says Peuchot. The new neckwear designs created by Gilbert include representations of humans, the elements and earth’s playground. Each piece is made out of two recycled plastic bottles and consists of 95 percent recycled Repreve microfiber.

Buff Original EcoStretch Multifunctional Neckwear is engineered with a four-way, seamless, ultra-stretch fabric construction that features UPF 50 protection along with 95 percent recycled Repreve performance microfiber.

The Retail Connection While this new collection was made with both the environment and runners in mind, retailers can get excited about the environmental partnership as well. As customers become more eco-conscious, collaborations between brands and nonprofits have become a big selling point. “We find that our specialty retailers are the trendsetters in their markets and are important for spreading awareness directly to the consumer on important topics such as Protect Our Winters, who is equally focused on protecting our summers and winters,” says Casey Rolig, Buff’s North American media communications manager. By increasing their awareness at the retail level, runners can become more knowledgeable about the products they shop and ensure their business goes to brands that have their best interests at heart. “Runners, especially mountain and trail runners, depend on a healthy trail system, so support of POW means support of their playgrounds,” adds Rolig. “It’s not just an organization focused on climate change for more snowfall each year. It’s all connected. “The POW collection gives the retailer something to talk about that’s unique, with fun designs, and it helps support POW, as Buff is now a global contributor at the $50,000 level annually.” n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


Doing It Wright An eco-message has been part of Wrightsock’s marketing for years. / By Carly Russo


ustainability in run specialty goes well beyond just footwear and one sock brand has been pushing eco-friendliness in its product line since 2018. From recycled fibers to more sustainable manufacturing, Wrightsock has been in the sustainability game for some time and plans to do more to reduce its carbon footprint in 2022 and beyond. “Wrightsock decided to dabble in the use of sustainable yarns back in 2018 and launched the Eco line in 2020 with the Eco Run, Eco Hike, Eco Lite Hike, Eco Winter Run and Eco Explore,” says Russ Coillot, director of sales and marketing. “The success and positive response to the direction and the outstanding quality of the recycled fibers gave us the confidence to commit in late 2021 to utilizing recycled fibers in all of our products.” Moving from DriWright II to Repreve did increase its cost of materials, but Coillot maintains that it still made sense to go this route that aligns with the company’s mission to be as sustainable as possible and allow it to provide a premium product made from sustainable materials. Knowing that there is no price tag big enough to account for the impact the apparel industry has on the planet, Wrightsock didn’t stop with just the materials it uses to design its socks. The brand took its eco-efforts a step further to ensure its manufacturing process was more environmentally friendly as well. During the early days of the pandemic Wrightsock invested in a number of initiatives that have had a significant impact on its carbon footprint, such as low energy LED lighting systems and more efficient machinery. “The time also allowed us to revisit some of our processes and refine them so that 29

In addition to utilizing more recycled fiber in its sock products, Wrightsock has refined its manufacturing processes to reduce its environmental impact even further.

we use less electricity and significantly less water in our manufacturing process,” says Coillot. Though the brand was fortunate to get a lot of its eco-initiatives off the ground prior to the onset of COVID-19, Wrightsock still has plenty more in store for reducing its carbon footprint this year. “We just completed our carbon footprint study to understand where we still have opportunities to improve upon our sustainability efforts,” says Coillot. Wrightsock is now using all recycled paper products in its packaging and is considering alternatives for its clear bag packaging that is required by some customers. “We are also looking at different avenues to help offset some of the carbon that is created during the shipping of product from our warehouse,” Coillot adds, pointing out that the brand has partnered with One Tree Planted, an environmental charity that

promotes reforestation. While becoming carbon-neutral is important to brands to help mitigate their environmental impact, it also matters to retailers. As more consumers become ecoconscious, retailers are looking to get ethical products on their shelves and need brands to help promote them. Wrightsock is developing and testing instore POP displays that tell its sustainable story and currently has four types of POP in in test to discover which works best for both the brand and retailer. For Wrightsock educating consumers about the eco-impact of its products is all about telling them the story of the brand. “While [sustainability] may not be the first or most important reason a customer purchases a product, it is definitely a supporting reason,” Coillot says. “It is also a great story to tell while working with customers.” n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


Gore Gets Greener A new material innovation boosts its sustainability message in consumer products for Fall 2022.


or the companies whose products and brands are known to consumers – and whose products need to back up any eco-message they are sending in their advertising and marketing – it is vital for apparel manufacturers that their key raw materials suppliers share the same commitment to sustainability efforts. It is these raw materials that take eco-efforts back to the basics and allow apparel designers to be confident from the start that the materials they are utilizing fit into their sustainability model. Enter the Gore Fabrics Division, which in 2021 again demonstrated its eco-commitment with the development of expanded polyethylene (ePE) as a new complementary material platform for its membrane technologies in its consumer business, setting another milestone on its sustainability journey. The technology is complex, yet simple to explain: Gore’s 40 years of material science knowledge have now been applied to manipulate polyethylene (PE) into a highly porous, strong polymer scaffold suitable for high-performance, durable waterproof apparel. The result is this ePE, a light and thin, but also strong, microporous material. Combining the ePE material with another polymer – polyurethane – creates a waterproof, windproof and breathable membrane with a lower environmental footprint. Gore’s new ePE membrane comes with a range of sustainability attributes: • It has been engineered for durable performance to provide a long product life. • It leverages a high strength-to-weight ratio to create extremely lightweight and thin composites that are still mechanically robust, but allow for reduced material usage, contributing to improved resource efficiency. 30

The Gore Fabrics Division has demonstrated its eco-commitment with the development of ePE.

• The new ePE membranes as well as the DWR treatments used are PFC-free and therefore advance the division’s goal of being free of PFCs of Environmental Concern over the lifecycle of its consumer products. In this case, the goal is accomplished by using non-fluorinated materials. “Sustainability is the number one priority for our business and the Gore-Tex brand and ePE is the next milestone on our responsible performance journey and perhaps marks the biggest day since we launched ePTFE and the Gore-Tex brand 40 years ago,” says Nora Stowell, global sales and marketing leader for the Gore Fabrics Division. “The introduction of our new ePE-based laminate also shows our aspiration to lead the industry with the highest performing, sustainable Gore-Tex products and solutions.” Gore’s new ePE membrane will be certified to Standard 100 by Oeko-Tax, bluesign approved, and – depending on laminate selection – available with recycled and solution-dyed textile components. As measured by the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI), the ePE raw material and its

consequently low membrane mass together result in a lower carbon footprint, compared to equivalent ePTFE membranes. Beginning in Fall/Winter 2022, Gore’s new ePE membrane will be used in general outdoor and lifestyle garments, lifestyle footwear and snow sports gloves. Selected customers include Adidas, Arc’teryx, Dakine, Patagonia, Reusch, Salomon and Ziener. Their products with the new ePE membrane will carry Gore-Tex’s “Guaranteed To Keep You Dry” promise. Products for additional consumer enduses (and from more customers) will be introduced in upcoming seasons. “The message for our brand partners is clear — with our new Gore-Tex products leveraging the ePE membrane we are expanding our range of laminate options for high product performance and sustainability,” explains Lara Wittmann, who is with the global strategic marketing–consumer garments unit for Gore Fabrics Division in Munich. “Hearing our brand partners’ excitement and requests to collaborate is the feedback we were hoping for.” n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


2 For the Earth

Saucony’s Stopwatch Collection and Oyster Puff jacket lead the brand’s eco-efforts into 2022.


YOU CAN’T GET MUCH MORE DOWN-TO-THE-EARTH (or sea, in this case) than using one of the most abundant resources on the planet as a key ingredient in your garments. That’s essentially what Saucony is doing with the unique Boulder Oyster Puff jacket, made of a recycled polyester shell material that is water-resistant with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) that shields from the elements. But even more interesting is that the insulation is nano-infused with oyster shells to help with thermoregulation, plus it is also naturally anti-odor and anti-static while being compressible and down-like, giving a super soft feeling. The recycled polyester blend sleeves are brushed inside for extra warmth and feature convenient zippered hand pockets. Both the sleeve and hem are finished with an elastic v-fold. One more thing: The jacket has reflective logos to keep runners in sight.


SAUCONY’S NEW Stopwatch Collection offers both performance and sustainability. Made of 100 percent recycled materials and utilizing plastic bottles to create highperformance staples, the new line is part of president Anne Cavassa’s comments to Running Insight that sustainability in run and footwear will be part of the brand’s “innovation engine.” So true with Stopwatch. 31

© 2022 Diversified Communications


Cleaner Safety A cleaner post-race scene is BibBoard’s contribution to the environment.


he scene after any road race is always equal parts celebration, relief and … a big mess. The ground is littered with paper cups, shredded bibs and plenty of unidentified pieces of trash, waiting for the volunteers to come through and clean up. While most of these race volunteers have a love for the sport and a commitment to a successful event, and don’t mind scooping up the mess left behind from all the festivities earlier in the day, there is one hazard that sets them off — getting their fingers pricked by a bunch of safety pins that fell off of race bibs. Not only can the safety pins used to fasten race bibs to athletes cause irritation by poking or rubbing race participants, they can also pose a great danger to race volunteers and have long-lasting impacts on the environment. Enter BibBoards, which has carved a specialty niche by creating an eco-friendly and safer alternative to safety pins. These safety pins so often used at races to secure bibs to shirt fronts can wreak havoc on humans – ouch! – and can also have massive implications on the surrounding environment, including birds and animals that call the race area home. Outdoor races need to show an appreciation for the environment and are taking significant steps by cutting down on paper cups, disposable route markers and even T-Shirts. Participants appreciate the efforts and a little thing like BibBoards goes a long way to earning their gratitude — and to doing a little something for Mother Nature. BibBoards are simply a snap-and-lock device made to fasten race bibs to all types of fabric over and over again. BibBoards are reusable and built to last out of recyclable 32

BibBoards are made out of recycled nylon plastic and can be used over and over again.

nylon plastic, making them a cost-effective option to care for the earth while enjoying the sport. As an added bonus, BibBoards have been certified as Prop 65 compliant, meaning they do not have harmful levels of chemicals in them. The sales pitch to race directors is that BibBoards will come in handy over and over, in every race or competition setting. A race director who opts to make the switch from safety pins to a product such as BibBoards can set the bar for sustainability

while knowing that the branded BibBoard goes from race to race with every competitor that has BibBoards with their logo on them. It’s an investment for the event and an investment for the earth. Racers, who naturally spend a lot of time in the Great Outdoors, are the same people who care about preserving nature for generations to come and they are already demanding sustainable solutions from the events in which they participate. Race directors and retailers need to respond to that demand. n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


Fair Fashion

Fox & Robin is built on environmental transparency and fair labor practices. / By Carly Russo


hile many running brands are planning to move towards sustainability to lessen their environmental impact on the planet, one particular up-and-coming brand was built on it. Meet Fox & Robin – a B Corp. certified activewear brand that’s dedicated to ethical transparency and mitigating its effect on Earth’s ecosystems. Inspired by the story of Robin Hood, Fox & Robin was founded on the idea of standing up for what is right and for those without a voice. The activewear and running apparel brand holds itself to its mission by remaining transparent about every aspect of its journey, including disclosing its factory conditions to its customers. “Ignorance is not bliss in the fashion industry,” says CEO Tommy Flaim. Stories about unethical working conditions have become a frequent topic in the news, making it increasingly clear that many fashion brands are in the dark when it comes to the working conditions of the garment factories they use around the globe. Harsh labor conditions, unlivable wages and exploitation are commonplace and often get overlooked as brands focus on pushing out a large number of new products each season. In effort to break the standard, Fox & Robin now discloses its factory workers’ wages to its customers in order to promote fair labor and accountability. The brand does this by interacting directly with its factories to ensure its products are not made using unethical labor and includes hiring third-party auditors to work on the ground to keep sites in check. Although the company’s founders Flaim and John Henry Neuberger are fully aware of the treatment and compensation workers receive while sewing their products, the pair admit that there is still more work 33

Sustainable materials and ethical working conditions are the hallmark of the Fox & Robin brand.

to be done to ensure garment workers are treated humanely. Part of the brand’s commitment to both its workers and the planet involves a slowfashion model. You won’t find Fox & Robin pushing out a multitude of new styles each season, as the brand has chosen not to operate on a seasonal calendar. Instead, it chooses to focus on product quality by using sustainably sourced materials such as bamboo and recycled nylon. However, Fox & Robin’s eco-efforts don’t stop with the materials it uses in its apparel — the brand also includes sustainable packaging to ship its products, including carbon offsetting shipments to make them carbon neutral, using plastic-free packaging and including algae ink, a carbon-neutral ink,

to design its packaging. “Consumers are increasingly caring about sustainability,” says Flaim, who also points out that the company donates one percent of its sales to environmental NGOs selected by advisory board member Forrest Galante, who is a world-renowned conservationist. Making sure customers are aware of the various ways the company gives back to the planet is important to Flaim and Neuberger, who predict that future generations will be more conscious about how they shop than those who preceded them. “Sustainability is more expected than ever, especially for younger generations,” says Flaim. “Fashion has been going in the wrong direction and consumers care about this.” n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


Simple Is Better Topo goes back to basics in integrating sustainability into product design. / By Carly Russo


alk of ssutainability often triggers the phrase “less is more” for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint. But how can running brands use less materials in their products and still maintain style and functionality? For Topo the answer is simple — just don’t add in any unnecessary features and the result will be more natural-feeling footwear for runners. “When it comes to sustainability, we take a very holistic approach by balancing material selection, product life cycle, distribution logistics and overall corporate practices,” explains product manager Russ Stevens. Topo prides itself on its rigorous selection process to ensure its materials are both sustainable and durable. The intention is to create long-lasting products so runners won’t have to replace them often, which ultimately leads to less consumption. But less consumption isn’t the only environmental initiative for Topo. The brand has also begun including more eco-friendly materials into its product line, such as new insoles (currently in its ST-4 and MTN Racer 2 sneakers) constructed with recycled rubber and post-industrial scrap, and a new engineered mesh that’s comprised of 30 percent recycled materials. This shift to use more eco-materials applies not to just Topo’s products, but also every other aspect of its supply chain. “On a corporate and logistical level, we made it a priority last year to have our carbon footprint measured through Climate Neutral so we could better understand the impact our operations have on the environment and begin to consider ways we can improve sustainability in our supply chain,” says Stevens. “We’re also excited to launch eco-friendlier shoe boxes in May, which 34

Topo’s products are both sustainable and durable to create long-lasting shoes to reduce waste.

have minimized the use of dyes, is made of 85 percent post-consumer material and is 100 percent recyclable.” Using more recyclable materials falls in line with Topo’s mission to exclude any materials, details and designs in its products that aren’t 100 percent necessary. But the brand’s commitment to conservation goes beyond its supply chain — it also partners with various organizations to reduce as much waste as it can. “We’re also big fans of the ‘reuse’ approach and have partnered with community organizations like Back On My Feet (BoMF) here in Boston near our HQ,” Stevens continues, explaining that each year Topo provides them with hundreds of pairs of shoes – lightly worn returns and demo

fleets – for its members. “BoMF uses the power of movement to restore confidence and help people rise from homelessness.” To p o i s a l s o a m emb e r of T h e Conservation Alliance, where it donates a portion of its sales every year on Earth Day. Yet with all the eco-efforts Topo is already working on, the company admits that this is just the beginning for building a sustainable brand. “We know that we have a long way to go in creating a truly sustainable product, supply chain and business and that the measures we’ve taken are just the first step,” says Stevens. “We look forward to embracing the challenge to become more sustainable and are committed to improving each season.” n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


Can Do Attitude Gnarly’s switch to steel cans is another opportunity for retailers to send a green message.


hen the subjects of ethical and environmentally-friendly efforts in run specialty are brought up, more often than not the fashion industry is the first category that comes to mind. While sustainable running apparel is all the rage in 2022, runners shouldn’t look past other nonapparel brands that are making significant sustainable efforts. Just talk to Gnarly, a sports nutrition brand transitioning all of its packaging from plastic tubs to tin coated steel cans that are highly recyclable. “Over the last 18 months, we’ve been trying to find a replacement for single use plastic packaging that not only makes a substantial improvement in packaging sustainability, but also maintains our high product quality standards,” says Gnarly CPO/COO Shannon O’Grady. “In addition to their superior recyclability, steel cans are also hermetic, or air tight, thus setting the standard for shelf life and product integrity. This is Gnarly Nutrition’s first step towards responsible packaging and we’re in it for the long game.” The inspiration behind Gnarly’s recent shift to more eco-friendly steel packaging came from the fact that steel has the highest recycling rate of any material — with 71 percent of it being repurposed compared to plastic, which is only repurposed at around eight percent. Although Gnarly’s traditional tubs were made using recycled plastic, the brand discovered that plastic can only be repurposed one or two times before its broken down beyond recyclability. Hence the shift towards the new steel cans, which are entirely made in the United States and have been available to customers since September, with its pre-workout 35

Gnarly is in the eco-game for the long term, starting with the recent switch to steel cans in its packaging.

and BCAA products being the first to fully transition. “We know our customers trust our quality and effective products and we are focused on continuing to build a brand that we believe also resonates with our customers, which includes caring about the Earth and our impact on it,” adds CEO Eli Kerr. “These steel cans are just one step – albeit a giant one – for Gnarly towards more sustainable solutions for our packaging. “I am proud of our team and their vision to do something different, something better than what has previously been done in the supplement industry. We are just getting started.” The eco-effort has a retail benefit as well, according to director of marketing Liz Esche, who points out that promoting eco-friendly products in stores is essential for connecting with both the customers and the brands on their shelves. “Retailers are key to promoting packaging that is more recyclable,” says Esche. “For their own knowledge, they can investigate which tubs and plastic are able to be recycled in their local area’s curbside

program, then educate customers with proper signage. “Most plastic bags and tubs, especially tubs made out of colored, non-white plastic, are unable to be recycled in curbside,” she adds. “On the other hand, steel and metal packing is recycled correctly over 70 percent of the time and all new manufactured steel, specifically, is already made up of two-thirds recycled steel.” Educating customers about which of their favorite sports nutrition products use sustainable packaging is half of the benefit for retailers stocking eco-friendly products. Maintaining a close relationship with the dedicated brands that are well-versed in recycling can help retailers connect with customers about best practices as well. “Helping educate customers on correct recycling tactics, investing and stocking products that promote better brand and consumer habits, and even helping by facilitating better recycling practices by hosting recycling stations, are all ways retailers can partner with companies like Gnarly who are trying to reduce plastic waste,” says Esche. n

© 2022 Diversified Communications

running shorts RIA Revs Up Runchella for May in Chicago

SINCE THE RUNNING INDUSTRY Association debuted the RIA KICK Show in 2019, the organization has held an ongoing dialogue with retailers and brands about how an annual gathering can best serve its membership. After the pandemic hiatus in 2020, the goal was to reunite the run specialty channel and Runchella was introduced in September of 2021. Now Runchella is back with a new format that amplifies member-favorite elements of the prior events. With data as the foundation, the event is based on three pillars — share, connect and amplify. Runchella will be held May 16-19, 2022 at the Westin Hotel Michigan Avenue, in Chicago. “Based on member feedback, Runchella

2022 will be a roll-up-your-sleeves type of event, with workshops based on the digital tools that are driving the channel forward,” says Terry Schalow, executive director of the RIA. “With run channel data becoming vastly more accessible, exploring how to use data simply but effectively will be the

New Balance Opens MA Facility Doubling down on its presence in Nor th America, New Balance this week officially opened a manufacturing facility in Methuen, MA. The 80,000-square-foot space underwent $20 million in renovations. Currently, almost 100 people are employed at the facility, where they make the brand’s popular Made in USA 990v5 running shoe. New Balance said it aims to more than double the size of its workforce there as well as its

production capabilities by the end of 2022 to produce an additional 750,000 pairs of sneakers annually. “It’s part of our overall mantra of controlling our destiny, which has really come into play in the last couple of years with COVID,” president and CEO Joe Preston told CNBC. New Balance now has five manufacturing facilities across Maine and Massachusetts that employ about 1000 workers. They primarily produce its line of Made in USA sneakers, which


cornerstone of the programming. Our goal is to send attendees home with new skills and executable plans.” RIA’s Mastermind Groups, a formalized peer sharing platform, will officially launch at the event. In partnership with Karnan Associates, Runchella will feature small groups of retailers in moderated conversations focused on key data metrics. Runchella attendees can also look forward to building working relationships with key brands. “Runchella will offer top-to-top meetings, business reviews and product presentations with the brands our retailers want to see, which is going to be extremely important this season with supply chain sample delays making it difficult for some sales representatives to hit the road,” says Schalow. • For buyers, the focus will be on how to use data to improve the buying process and work with brands more effectively. • For marketing executives, the focus will be what’s new in digital tools and guidance on effective DEI and sustainability messaging. Runchella will also host an industry party, morning group runs and networking opportunities. For more infor mation visit:

are at least 70 perfent domestically manufactured and make up a limited portion of U.S. sales. New Balance worldwide sales totaled $4.4 billion last year. According to Preston, the goal is to keep growing in North America — a move that is core to the brand’s “Made in America” ethos. “It differentiates us from our competition, if we make product and don’t outsource all of our production,” he told CNBC.

© 2022 Diversified Communications

running shorts empowerun Returns As Forum for Women in Run Specialty AFTER A ONE YEAR COVID HIATUS, one of the most unique and valuable gatherings of the run specialty industry took place last month in Santa Barbara, CA, when empowerun welcomed 115 women – including retailers, vendors, advocates and guests – for the fourth edition of a meeting aimed at, as its website says, “Forging relationships and amplifying our point of view.” “empowerun is a retreat that brings women together from across the run specialty industry for leadership training, networking and creating ideas to advance the channel,” explains Kathy Dalby, of Pacers Running and one of the organizers of the event. “The gathering serves as an opportunity for women in leadership to connect and discuss their unique experiences and seek ways to amplify our point of view in our organizations and industry.”

Over two days, these women from all aspects of the run specialty business engaged in workshops, panels and team-building exercises.

New Product: Inov-8 Parkclaw G 280 The Parkclaw G 280 with Graphene from Inov-8 is billed as the “ultimate road-to-trail running shoe, designed for adventure from the door.” Key product features include: • 98 Graphene rubber cleats per shoe that deliver a 37

What makes empowerun unique, Dalby points out, is that these attendees included everyone from young retail staffers to seasoned vendor pres

tough hybrid grip. • Graphene foam propels 25 percent more energy return for speed. • A cushioned midsole and breathable upper enhance all-round comfort.

© 2022 Diversified Communications

running shorts

Nominations Now Open for the Best Running Stores of 2022

NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN THROUGH today, April 1 for Best Running Stores, the awards program that recognizes and celebrates the best run specialty stores in America. The reception will take place December 1 in Austin, TX, during The Running Event. “We’re thrilled to open nominations for the 2022 awards and to honor the stores that

go above and beyond for their customers, employees, communities and more. We welcome the entire running community – from retailers and brands to runners and walkers across the country – to nominate their favorite run shop,” says Christina Henderson, executive director of Best Running Stores and The Running Event. “This year’s top stores will join a truly

remarkable lineup of past winners,” she adds. “As we reflect on an impactful The Running Event 2021, we’re more excited than ever to bring America’s running industry leaders together again — both to celebrate their accomplishments and to learn, connect, inspire and continue propelling the running industry forward.” All industry professionals, brands and retail customers are encouraged to nominate one store that shines for their customer service and community impact, Following a rigorous evaluation process, winners will be selected and notified by the end of July; the Store of the Year will be revealed live at the December 1 reception during The Running Event 2022 in Austin, TX. All winning stores will receive two free passes to The Running Event, including accommodations at the host hotel. best_running_stores_nomination_form

On Sales Jump 54 Percent In Fourth Quarter On Holding AG recently reported net sales increased by 53.7 percent in the fourth quarter ended December 31 and by 70.4 percent in fiscal year 2021. The Swiss running brand predicted sales would expand at least 37 percent compared in 2022 “Our financial results in the fourth quarter are further validation of the very strong, global demand for the On brand and our commitment to managing the company with a long-term, growth- and profitability-driven mindset,” says Martin Hoffmann, co-CEO and CFO, adding that the brand achieved the more than 70 percent growth in net sales in 2021 while at the same time increasing its gross profit. “We continued to see strong demand across all regions and product categories, with North America and China

showing exceptional growth rates,” he adds. “We are even more confident and excited about the global growth opportunities and many new products that will allow our customers to move. Importantly, our production capacity in Vietnam has been back at 100 percent of the pre-lockdown commitments since December 2021.” On said in its Q4 financial nstatement: “We expect 2022 to be characterized by a significant expansion of our product offering in running, outdoor and lifestyle, which we call performance all day, through the launch of highly innovative and even more sustainable shoes, apparel items and accessories. Our product offering expansion has been well received by our existing and new wholesale partners, reflected in very strong pre-orders for the first and second half of the year.”

Tailwind Sponsors Ragnar Trail Series Tailwind Nutrition has been named the exclusive hydration and supporting protein recovery partner of the Ragnar Trail Series throughout 2022. Ragnar is a long-distance, overnight relay running event that seeks to create relationships for friends and the running community to push their limits, on little amounts of sleep, in unique locations throughout the world. The 2022 Ragnar calendar features 27 relay events nationwide. As part of the sponsorship, Tailwind will provide Endurance Fuel and Recovery samples in each participant’s race bags. Recovery samples will also be available in the Ragnar Recovery Zones at each event and the Tailwind Nutrition team will be attending select Ragnar Trail events throughout the year.


© 2022 Diversified Communications

running shorts

More New Products: Reebok Floatride Energy 4, Altra Rivera 2, Nathan Protector Jacket ride. With 26mm of stack height, it sits mid-range among Altra’s road shoe offerings in terms of its cushioning, providing plenty of support, while remaining snappy and light. MSRP: $130. Nathan Waterproof Jacket Nathan recently launched its first

New Product: Reebok Floatride Energy 4 Reebok recently unveiled the latest model within the Floatride Energy running shoe franchise, The Floatride Energy 4. Built for both new and seasoned runners, the Floatride Energy 4 provides the key qualities of a high-performance running shoe at an accessible price point. The Floatride Energy 4 is Reebok’s lightest weight Floatride Energy iteration with the introduction of the Speed Shift Upper material. Lightweight and breathable, the material offers added protection and durability without lacking on style. The newest version also features crafted elements of embroidery, synthetic leather and bold midsole colors. Among its other features: • Speed Shift Upper: New to the model, lightweight and breathable Speed Shift Upper material provides added protection and durability. • Floatride Energy Foam: Performance cushioning for a lightweight, responsive ride. • Carbon Rubber Outsole: Full rubber outsole for added traction on the road. • Engineered Bevel: Reduces heel 39

breaking for a smoother, flexible stride. • Reebok [REE]CYCLED Product: A minimum of 30 percent of the upper is recycled materials. MSRP: $110. New Product: Altra Rivera 2 Road Shoe Altra has launched the latest addition to its road shoe collection – the Rivera

2 – a versatile daily performance trainer designed to support runners across a broad range of running. The Rivera 2 couples Altra’s existing technologies with a more tailored SlimFootShape fit, sleeker than other Altra models, making it an option for runners looking for a more secure fit. The soft Altra EGO midsole provides responsiveness and a plush overall

waterproof piece of apparel — the Protector Rain Jacket. The jacket’s waterproofing repels the downpour, while strategic ventilation prevents moisture buildup inside the jacket for high-output activities. Nathan also recently launched a protective windbreaker, the Vamos Jacket, constructed with a stretchy fabric and a draft flap in the back allows heat to escape.

© 2022 Diversified Communications


Email Benchmarks FULL SEND



> 20%

G re a t

> 30%

15% TO 20%


25% TO 30%

< 15%

Fa i r

< 25%

> 0.9%

G re a t

> 5%

.0.05% TO 0.9%


2% TO 5%

< 0.5%

Fa i r

< 2%



Full Send: Emails to customer base every 14-16 days.

Automated: Emails triggered by customer behavior.

Top 5 Email Automations [ BAS E D O N R EV E N U E ]







Email Capture Rates


EMAIL CAPTURE RATE Email capture rates is based on transactions between 1/1/2022 and 3/1/2022.


78% + 62% - 77% 45% - 61% UNDER 45%

MEET US at RIA’s Member Summit Chicago • May 16-19, 2022 FIND OUT MORE: RUNNINGINDUSTRY.ORG/ RUNCHELLA






2 -W E E K C H E C K- I N

Days Between Transactions

Average days between transactions is applicable only to repeat customers, Average Days Between Transactions represents the number of days transpired between the current transaction in the period 1/1/2022 and 3/1/2022, and the last prior transaction from the same customer.


DataPoints is produced by Upper Quadrant by aggregating data from over 200 doors.

Upper Quadrant assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in this content. The information contained this infographic is provided on “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness.

© 2022 Diversified Communications

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