Running Insight 6.1.20

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JUNE 1, 2020


THE ROAD AHEAD RUN SPECIALTY REOPENS INTO A ‘NEW NORMAL’ IN AMERICA Shoe Brands React A Toolkit for Reopening The Store of the Near Future The Numbers Tell the Story (So Far) Business Strategies for the ‘New’ Retail



Back To Business

Run specialty reopens slowly as stores develop strategies to survive in a new retail world.

Cover Photo courtesy of Runhouse


he mood is brightening for run specialty as retailers across America slowly reopen – or plan to reopen – amidst government-imposed restrictions, customer and employee safety concerns and a realization that their business will never be the same. A definite “we are all in this together” spirit pervades and, as consultant Parker Karnan stressed in a recent Virtual Town Hall sponsored by Running Insight and The Running Event, retailers need to follow some plain and simple advice as they welcome customers back into their stores. “First thing is managing the virus and the spread of it and making your employees feel safe,” he said. “Your store has to be an environment that your employees feel they can work in. “And you have to manage the fear of your customers,” he added. How to do that is the question of the day for run specialty. (One positive that many stores reported was that the number of transactions are down, but stores that have had scheduled appointments are seeing the average sale up 10-20 percent. That, Karnan, added, raises the question of what role appointments will

play going forward and is there a place for scheduling appointments that hasn’t been there in the past.) Bob Dyer, of Running Niche in St. Louis, MO, reported in last week’s Virtual Town Hall that when they reopened on May 18 it was one of the two best weeks the two-yearold store ever had. “People are coming in with intent, they aren’t messing around,” he said. “They are coming in and getting out.”

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




The momentum admittedly slowed in Week Two, because there was initially such a heightened awareness that the store was open and people needed stuff — especially hydration product because all water is shut off in local parks. Even with the slowdown Running Niche will end the month up 10 percent from last year. The store’s Jennifer Henderson explained that the first hour of the day is reserved for

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appointments only, which means that every person is getting oneon-one service. “That is going great in terms of sales because people are waiting to come in,” she said, reporting that recently two ladies came in and spent $1200. “People feel very taken care of in that situation.” Michelle Allen, of iRun Texas, reported that the situation in Texas has been strong — they have been open for three weeks, with up to 25 percent capacity in the store at any given time, which is a fairly normal percentage for the store anyway. “If it does get crowded we have a signup sheet and a greeter who will call them when we are ready for them,” she said. Face masks are required and extended cleanings are the norm, but they have not gone with scheduled

appointments yet. “People are glad that we are open back up and are excited to be shopping,” she said, adding that both their number of transactions and average dollar value per transaction are looking up. Meanwhile, in Maryland Josh Levinson, of Charm City, said that after a few false starts that hurt morale – and sales – two of his seven stores opened three weeks ago and its biggest store opened May 22 with two fitting stations inside and two outside. “We are ready,” he said, reporting that after an initial surge online fittings have dissipated but certainly won’t disappear. “That will be a part of our future to bring our service to their living room,” he said. His employees have been enthusiastic, “but to say that

people aren’t nervous at all would be a lie. But they are very excited and most can’t wait to get to work.” He, too, reports strong conversion rates even during the pandemic. “Now people are being very intentional about where they go and when they show up they want to be there and they want to buy,” Levinson said. “They aren’t coming to Charm City to kill time; they are coming to do business.” A nder s Bro oker, whose Runner’s Edge in Missoula, MT was closed for the entire month of April, reopened his one store on May 1 with appointment-only selling even though the state of Montana allows for a bit more — a conversion rate coupled with a transaction jump that was up $40 eased the pain a little. “It’s

been a success for us,” he said. Tyler Ha r t, of Ma rathon Sports, which owns stores in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut, must adhere to three different sets of opening rules. “There’s a paradigm shift and the now normal is face masks and queuing,” he said. “We aren’t doing appointments, but we’ll take your name and call you when we are ready.” Even though Nick Walker’s three locations in Victoria, Canada, are fairly isolated with few COVID-19 cases being reported recently, the stores remain closed as they prepared to reopen. “We are taking every precaution before we open up,” he said, before speaking for everyone when he added: “It’s good to see we are all in the same s****y situation.” n


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On The Front Lines

Run specialty retailers around the country report in on how their reopening efforts are going as June begins.

LAST WEEK RUNNING INSIGHT reached out to run specialty retailers around the country asking them to share some of their reopening (or planned reopening) strategies and stories. Here’s a sampling of what we found out. Track Shack of Orlando, Orlando, FL • Reopened on May 4, which was Phase 1 for Florida retailers allowing 25 percent capacity. On May 18 they entered Full Phase 2 with 50 percent capacity. • Betsy Hughes reports that the store created new processes on many things, including mandating that all employees and customers wear masks; having a door person and only one entrance instead of the usual two; lots of signage explaining what six-foot distancing looks like and the proper way to wear a mask or face covering; eight sanitation stations throughout the store; a fitting area spread out to accommodate social distancing that is now on both sides of sales floor; plexiglass at the register; mandatory hand washing after each customer; no more try-on socks; limited store hours; dressing rooms closed except in some instances; evaluating each customer and measuring, but letting most put on and tie their own shoes; and sanitizing all tried-on shoes with Lysol and letting them air out and then put back in stock. • “We have been very busy,” Hughes says, pointing out that the store’s door person has been incredibly important and is a full-time staff member or owner. “We have not brought back all our part-timers, but all nine full-time and five part-timers are keeping very busy.” And after 4

Track Shack is now selling online after 42 years in business as it looks for ways to expand post-COVID-19.

42 years of not selling online Track Shack is doing online sales through Fitted. “Our process is definitely working,” Hughes adds. “We have chairs under the awning where customers wait on busy days, six feet apart, of course, and provide water bottles for them. We also provide disposable masks for those unprepared and although we have lost a few customers because they just don’t want to wear a mask, we count that loss as part of doing business. We feel confident in our processes and are excited to once again help our running and walking community.” Big Peach Running Co., Georgia • Open with modified hours since May 11 and a return to normal hours TODAY, June 1! • Employees on the floor are always wearing a mask when serving customers, with only two guests allowed in the store for every employee working, up to a maximum of 10 persons in the store at a time. “This helps us both control any potential congestion and the flow of the operation,” says

founder Mike Cosentino. • Cosentino reports that from its reopening date through Memorial Day weekend “sales were strong and customers were seemingly appreciative of our efforts and happy to be making in-store visits.” But, he adds, post-holiday sales have been “noticeably more tepid.” Red Coyote, Oklahoma City, OK • Reopened on May 1 to appointment-only and some walk-ups as space is available. • “We are only allowing appointments for fittings and walk-ups for someone who knows exactly what they need,” reports Jon Beck. “We are still doing curbside and online.” They are scheduling four appointments every 40 minutes at one location and two at its smaller store, with a door greeter handling the traffic flow. Masks are required for all in-store patrons. • “The current process is working for what it is intended to do,” Back says. “We are keeping all customers distanced, cleaning and

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On the Front Lines (continued) per transaction up and dollars-per-sale up $30. “People are enjoying the attention of appointments and that’s maybe part of what we do from now on.”

disinfecting like crazy afterwards, but taking care of everyone. The good side is that all these customers are coming in to shop and make a purchase, so conversion is at an all-time high and sales are showing right now with double-digit growth over last year for the month of May.” Fleet Feet Rochester @ The Armory; Fleet Feet Rochester – Ridgeway; Fleet Feet Rochester – Victor; Fleet Feet–Buffalo • The Armory store has been deemed essential for curbside since March 31. Ridgeway has not been open since March 16. Victor opened for curbside-only on May 21. Buffalo opened May 26. All are part of Phase 1 in New York, with plans to open for appointment-only the first week in June (Buffalo on June 8). • Appointment only, shortened hours, all employees wearing masks, hand sanitation stations, quarantining product after wear, specific socially distanced fit station areas, no fitting rooms. • “How do I say this without being negative?” asks Ellen Brenner, VP & CFO of Fleet Feet Rochester and YellowJacket Racing. “The process has been grueling and the current business situation is not good. But we are hopeful.” Aardvark Sports Shop, Bethlehem PA • Still closed, but processing on-line and phone orders. Planned limited 6

The Running Place, Newtown Square, PA • Opening June 5. • Limiting capacity, extra disinfecting and sanitizing, social distancing. • Business is “way down,” but opening up this week will make things better, but more labor intensive. Aardvark Sport Shop plans a limited opening this week ... finally!

re-opening for June 5. • Limit of six people (including staff) in store at any time, masks must be worn and fitting appointments encouraged. • Owner Bruce Haines estimates the store is currently doing about 50 percent of its normal business. Ridgefield Running Company, Ridgefield, CT • Closed March 15, started online sales a week later and reopened May 20. • Doing appointmentsonly (every 30 minutes with 10-minute buffer) but will take a walk-ins if less than three customers are in the store. Customers’ temperatures taken and they have to wear a mask. Each fitter is assigned one fit bench for the day. • “We have a 100 percent conversion rate on appointments, everyone is walking out with a product,” says Megan Searfoss, with units

Up and Running, Dayton, OH • Opened in May with varied hours. • Two days a week are set aside specifically for appointments for those that are uneasy being out, reports Susie Stein. All staff wear masks and request customers to do the same or they fit them outside. • “It is challenging to be open with varied opinions on the virus,” says Stein. “We are just trying to protect our customers and our staff, but business is good.” Xtramile Running, Schaumburg, IL • Reopened to the public on Saturday, May 30. • Customer limit of three at a time in the store; call aheads are encouraged so they can provide a private shopping experience; Mask Up. No Shoes, No Shirt, No Mask, No Service; all customers asked to sanitize upon entry; continuous social distancing; limited contact/touch; thorough

cleaning of fit stations and any product that has been touched or tried on; stay home if sick. • General manager Christopher Schiel reports the store has been doing curbside pickup and free home delivery for the past 10 weeks, handled just by the owner and manager. “As six additional employees return to work, our focus is on developing these processes into consistent habits as well as empowering our staff to comfortably approach difficult conversations with customers who may be unwilling to comply with our reopening guidelines,” he says. “That doesn’t just mean those who don’t want to wear a mask, but other common scenarios like what do we do if a family of four walks in, etc.” Rhode Runner, Providence, RI • Had a soft opening on May 9 with limited store occupancies and they continue to recommend curbside pickup and on-line sales. • The state allows one person per 300-square feet. Owner Bob Bischoff says the store has a comprehensive entry program displayed plus proper spacing, face protection, counter safety and cleaning. • Bischoff reports that In April the store did about 40 percent of its normal business, but May looks like it will be slightly above 2019 numbers. n © 2020 Diversified Communications



The Store of the (Near) Future A host of design and merchandising changes need to be made before reopening. / By Holly Wiese


hat adjustments do run specialty retailers have to make to their stores before reopening? This is the million-dollar question that every retailer has been asking these past few weeks as the country – and their stores – gradually reopen. What types of safety precautions and procedural changes are going to be necessary to not only ensure the safety of your staff and customers, but almost equally as important, ensure that your customers feel safe enough to leave their homes and decide to enter your store again? It has become abundantly clear that the task of creating a mental and emotional level of comfort with customers is going to present even more challenges than adhering to the actual safety guidelines that will be required. Why? Because that piece is intangible. It’s difficult to know exactly how much is enough to quell the anxiety of a nervous customer, but in our opinion no reasonable amount of effort to ensure their comfort is too much. If you can implement any process or protocol that helps you regain your customer’s trust, then it’s worth your time and effort. Everyone is familiar with the important safety signs, sanitizer displays, floor stickers and sneeze guards that have been circling around on email strings as “retail must-haves” before you reopen, but what about the merchandising of your space? Are there additional things you can do 8

Social distancing is here to stay and retailers need to design their stores to make it simple for customers.

within your store walls that will help ensure further safety for your customers and help to regain their trust? What follows are ideas that may help ensure some further social distancing in your store and additional layers of safe shopping for your customers. Store Layout Comes First Take a close look at the positioning of your floor fixtures. Are they set up in a way that allows your customers to safely

walk throughout your entire space without having to touch any product or fixtures at all? And do they ever lead your customers to a potential dead end, or an area where they may feel uncomfortably close to another shopper should they decide to follow a similar path? The main thing is that you’re stepping back and looking at all areas of your space. If you have any potential pinch points in your traffic flow, then rearrange or, better yet, remove a fixture or two from the floor

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right now to open things up. In other words, all fixtures should allow for your customer to navigate them with ease and have a “way out” in the opposite direction, should another customer approach. Other areas to consider: • Shoe fitting. If you are still performing actual shoe fitting, are the benches or chairs situated in a way so that even if somebody is sitting on each one of them at the same time, there is adequate space between everybody else? Should you consider placing freestanding plexiglass dividers between any of the benches to further ensure social distancing? • Cash wrap. Do you have a very clear process for customers to approach the counter, handle the transaction quickly and with minimal contact and then have them exit without getting in the way of other customers who may be needing to pay? Most stores will have restrictions on how many customers can be in the store at the same time, but even with less shoppers you don’t want them bumping into each other, or even getting close to doing so, when they are checking out. Floor stickers with directional arrows are a good place to start, as well as freestanding acrylic dividers to separate checkout lanes if you’ve got multiple stations running at the same time. If you have only one register operating right now, perhaps lining the approach to it with some dividers would be helpful, allowing for a clear exit for your customer near the counter so that they don’t have to backtrack into the next customer in line behind them. 9

The above fixture is too close to walls, creating the dreaded pinch spot for customers in the corner.

Apparel Merchandising Challenge From a product merchandising perspective, the categories of apparel and nutrition stand out to us as potentially higher risk for your customers to shop than others due to their “high touch” nature. Apparel, of course, poses the most significant challenge as retailers balance space constraints with a need to properly merchandise a key category. The reality is that in a traditional apparel buying experience multiple people are pulling fitted clothing over their heads (which means nose and mouth), potentially contaminating fabrics without knowing it along the way. While a porous fabric is unlikely to hold on to these viruses for longer than 24-36 hours, within that period of time it’s still possible for several customers to touch or try on the

same apparel item. So how do we fix this? • Not allowing trying-on of apparel (sounds crazy but this whole situation is crazy). Create a simple sign stating that to help mitigate the risk of transferring the COVID-19 virus through your apparel, you have temporarily suspended any trying-on in the store. If a customer wants to purchase it, allow them to try it on at home and return later. You will know then that it has been touched and can be quarantined for several days in a “dirty” zone in your store where touched items take a “time out” until possible virus droplets have left town. • Featuring four or five key outfits on mannequins at a time and pulling all other apparel off the floor to be kept in the backroom is another option. Create a sign that says something

like, “We have lots of sizes in the back, but to mitigate the spread of the COVID 19 virus through our apparel, our gloved and masked staff members will happily retrieve the size and style you are interested in purchasing. We’re sorry, we are not allowing in-store trying-on at this time.” Your staff can safely go pull what is requested and, just as in the first scenario, if a return happens later with this product you can quarantine it properly before returning it to inventory. • Less apparel on the floor in general is a good idea in a COVID-19 world. Pull some amount off the floor in order to create less points of human contact in this category. Try to make it so more apparel can be seen easily without having to thumb through packed fixtures. Rotate some new pieces © 2020 Diversified Communications

Store of the (Near) Future (continued) in weekly, but contain it to as few floor fixtures as possible. Less product, less fixtures, less points of contact are all good things right now. Handling Nutrition And then there is the profitable nutrition segment. It goes without saying that sampling is out, but beyond that how about customers thumbing through the gels, bars or other small items that are often displayed in boxes or bins? Is it a concern to be increasing the number of points of contact between customers and these products? And if so, are there any other options to sell this category? What about pulling backstock of nutrition out of the front area, similar to what is suggested for apparel, and have signs indicating that product can be easily pulled by safe staff members

for those interested in larger nutrition purchases. The thought is that much like a high-end bakery, where display-only products are in the cases, perhaps consider displaying singles of your top nutrition products only. When people want several bars or gels, they can ask a staff member to go grab them and put them in a bag in the back to eliminate sorting through all the bins on the floor fixture. More work? Absolutely. Less points of human contact on a product to be consumed? Absolutely. Other nutrition ideas: Perhaps for the next couple of months all nutrition sales can be online only with a minimum purchase of “x” number of units in order to encourage stocking up on these products. That eliminates the temptation of sorting through edible products on the

Retail Challenge: Making Customers Feel Safe As stores reopen across the country, a recent study by First Insight found that the majority of consumers (54 percent) are actually ready to buy apparel instore, followed by home improvement (36 percent) and footwear (32 percent). However, the purchase experience will likely look much different than it did as recently as early March — 65 percent of women said they would not feel safe trying on clothes in dressing rooms. (In addition, 78 percent would not feel safe testing beauty products and 66 percent would not feel safe working with a sales associate.) By comparison, 54 percent of men said they would not feel safe trying on clothes in dressing rooms. Millennials, bless their hearts, feel the safest returning to the shopping 10

floor completely. Or, if you have a glass display case with some room, put nutrition behind glass for now. This will require a staff member to pull out what the customer is looking for and safely handling product only once. All of these ideas certainly require a new way of looking at store design and merchandising – and many go against some basic tenets of retailing. But remember, they are hopefully for the short term only, because if your customers don’t feel safe (or aren’t safe), they’re not coming back. Losing some product on the floor now or adding some steps to your staff service protocol are small prices to pay for gaining the trust and comfort level of your customers for the long term. They want to support you and all local businesses, but they have to feel safe in doing so. n

environment overall. Only 49 percent of Millennials surveyed said they would not feel safe trying on clothes in dressing rooms, compared to 71 percent of Baby Boomers. “While many shoppers seem ready to go back in-store, particularly to buy clothing, the experience is anything but business-as-usual,” says Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight. “The coronavirus has moved the industry away from hightouch to low-touch. “The ‘new normal’ for retailers will be to work with shoppers in a handsfree way to help them to find what they need while also giving them the space to feel comfortable, particularly with high-risk groups like Baby Boomers,” Petro adds. “Not feeling safe trying on clothing also begs many questions on how retailers and brands will need to

Losing some product on the floor right now or adding some steps to your staff service protocol are small prices to pay for gaining the trust and comfort level of your customers for the long term.

about the author Holly Wiese has more than 25 years of experience in the field of visual merchandising and retail design, including in the specialty running sector. She is a frequent speaker at The Running Event and has been a keynote speaker at a number of sportswear industry and merchandising events. She can be reached at: holly@3dotsdesign. com;

adapt their return and exchange policy in the coming weeks.” The question remains, then, how should run retailers make their customers feel safe? Respondents felt that hand sanitizer and limiting the number of people in-store (80 percent) and wearing a facemask (79 percent) would make them feel safest. Temperature checks (69 percent), self-checkout (69 percent) and further distances between product racks or shelving (68 percent) ranked less important to consumers when considering the safety of shopping experiences in-store. The new findings were revealed as part of First Insight’s ongoing series of consumer sentiment studies entitled, “The Impact of Coronavirus on Consumer Purchase Decisions and Behaviors.”

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Time To Run ...

And To Reopen Retail A toolkit for run specialty retailers as they navigate reopening in a COVID-19 world. / By Ryan Callahan


inally. It’s time to run again. The last 90 days have challenged the channel like nothing before. The cancellation of races, store closures at the peak of spring season and social distancing that made it impossible to 12

stay fully connected with our community has taken a major toll on our industry. Now, we finally have a reason to celebrate and get back to what we do best: connect people to the benefits of running. At Runhouse, we have spent the last

month working with The Running Event team and thinking about what the reopening of the channel might look like and developing content for stores to use. Runners have a special relationship with their local running store. This moment

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in time is important for you and your customers. We think the desire for community, supporting local, and embracing health is going to be stronger than before and running stores should be ready to take the lead. That starts with reopening. For this collaboration, we wanted something that gave stores a chance to celebrate while letting customers know that you are open and ready to serve them again. Guided by the tag “Let There Be Run,� we put together a portal of free assets that any locally owned store can use in whatever ways work best for them. Included in the portal are images and graphics with a wide variety of applications and dimensions to allow you to build out a campaign across a variety of platforms, and adjustable to your needs. These assets should help you head into this moment with a deeper toolkit of content to accompany what you may already have planned. The key to success in your reopening strategy is to make a plan and think about how you want to talk to your audience and what you want this moment to mean. We suggest a combination of gratitude toward your customers for their support and patience, celebration around your reopening and clear communication around what changes customers can expect when they come in your door. From there, you can start to think about following up with interesting stories, ways to re-inspire and what products 13

and services you want to talk about. We recommend you start by creating a 30-day content plan. If you have never done a content plan before, simply start with an outline of stories you want to tell, when you want to tell them and where (social media, email, website etc.). From there, you can start to plan what kinds of images you want to use and how to capture the best quality possible with the resources at

your disposal. Lastly, curation across platforms and multiples posts will help you build strong relaunch content that can strengthen your message over time. This last step is essentially what a campaign does and is an effective way to think strategically, stay focused and create better content. Regardless of your approach, you should use this time to think about how you can utilize your platforms to tell better stories

and inspire your audience. They are looking to you more than ever before. Let there be run. n Ryan Callahan is the president of Runhouse, a creative agency that develops brands, builds campaigns and works with running brands to help tell better stories. If you need a ny customizat ion of L et There Be Run assets, write to Š 2020 Diversified Communications


From Lockdown To Reopening Business strategies started during COVID-19 are here to stay for run specialty. / By Dean Gill


urvival mode. That is the way that running stores came out of winter in 2019-2020. Amid the pandemic crisis, stores with a spirit of creativity and experimentation made a lifeline while nature, the public and government sort out recovery. Run specialty has always had legendary customer service. Responses to the pandemic have added to the lore. Without benefit of human contact, and up against nearly universal stay-at-home orders, the customer experience moved virtual. No surprise there, since we have seen blockbuster movies go directly to streaming, families and friends get together on Zoom and restaurants reconfigure their entire business model toward takeout and delivery. Within the model for restaurants lays the template for run specialty retail. Ordering online, curbside pickup and delivery are pillars for restaurants — and now for running stores as they tentatively reopen across America. But rather than see these as temporary coping strategies to get through the pandemic, forward-thinking retailers like Tom Mansfield of Baltimore-based Charm City Run are wondering: “What will the brand look like in five years? Things won’t ever go away. How do we get better? How do we continue to do these things in addition to what we have always done?” Now, while much of the country contemplates reopening and figures out what


Potomac Running plans to continue to use virtual fittings and online scheduling in a post-COVID-19 world.

practices to bring back, some new practices are all but assured to stay. Virtual Fitings Are Here to Stay First among these are virtual fittings. For an industry proud of the in-store experience, and reliant on foot traffic, nothing could seem more alien than fitting shoes over the Internet. Execution of virtual fitting also highlights other new best practices for survival, such as omnichannel-everything, schedule-your-experience, direct-to-customer delivery and one-to-one customer

communication. Coordinated effort among multiple players in the industry pushed virtual fitting to market nearly overnight. To roll out the new service, retailers like Pacers in Washington, D.C., feature new web pages and e-mails with premium artwork created by Runhouse, along with a step-by-step description of the process. Lakeland, FL–based FITniche posted a video describing its own virtual process. To push the practice industrywide, marketing agency Upper Quadrant created an online toolkit, which included free access

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on its website to the original high-quality Runhouse images and e-mail templates, along with other how-to’s and downloads from Upper Quadrant, Brooks and Race Roster. Howeve r, a c c o r d i ng t o Mansfield, the most surprising feature of virtual fitting is that it can actually be more intimate than a traditional in-store fitting experience. “Initially the idea was a little weird,” he says. “The customer might think it’s weird. It was a lot of new customers and [virtual fitting was] something a lot of us had never done.” But without other customers to assist, phones to answer or additional in-store distractions, the Zoom fittings have proven to be truly one-to-one. Unintended sales are another benefit. Quarantined families overhear the process and jump in. “I’ll be talking to one person, then they ask, ‘can you talk to my husband too?’ and the next thing you know you’re selling three pairs of shoes,” says Mansfield. Online Scheduling Catches On Scheduling the customer experience online is another element of the new omnichannel reality. Potomac River Running in the Northern Virginia/D.C. area has been scheduling in-store fittings online for nearly two years, a practice that has gone from convenient to essential. Even under lockdown conditions, where non-essential business operations were restricted and foot traffic diminished, the demand for scheduling in-store fittings at Potomac River has remained constant compared to the same time last year. Combined with appointments for virtual fitting, Potomac 15

has seen significantly higher demand for its expertise. Postpandemic, scheduling online will continue grow until it is simply an expected practice of retail stores. Omnichannel Logistics After fittings, customers need to obtain their products safely. They do this by making purchases via phone, in-store or via e-commerce, and then either opting for curbside pickup, free shipping or same-day courier service to their door. All of these options will continue after the pandemic. “We are pedal-down on anything we can have to be a light,” says Mansfield. “Take-out food hasn’t gone away. Why not takeout retail? Why do they need to go into the store if they know exactly what they want?” The same attitude applies to door-to-door delivery. Delivery services for food have expanded significantly in recent years. Customers will expect the same service from retail establishments. Mansfield believes the service is an investment in each customer relationship. “You call the store. You ask. We offer delivery, same day to the house. It makes people feel special,” he says. “We are in the business of making people feel special.” The E-mail and Text Effort While virtual fitting is the most prominent change made by retailers, the pandemic stress test has also brought to light existing practices requiring new emphasis. Most importantly has been capturing customer e-mail addresses. With no foot traffic and closed stores, retailers with low e-mail capture rates had limited ability

FITniche has made curbside delivery a staple of its pandemic coping effort

to reach customers directly and let them know that they remained open for business and were eager to serve, albeit virtually. The need to reach customers directly has also raised the profile of a seldom-used communication channel: SMS/text messaging. Potomac River, already a leader with schedulea-fitting, also leads with text utilization, rendering nearly all customer phone inquiries answered, either by voice, or by personal text, or by bot-text, for common questions. Unlike e-mail, SMS/text messaging has a 99 percent read rate (90 percent within three minutes of delivery), thus making it a strong candidate for growth. Additionally, texting is also the ultimate antidote to e-mail fatigue, an issue with which we all struggle. Change Will Continue More has changed in the last three months for retail than anyone could have imagined. While it is impossible to say

what will happen one year from now, much less during the next three months, nearly all experts agree a second wave of the pandemic cannot be ruled out. These new and newly emphasized tactics by leaders like Charm City, Pacers, FITniche, Potomac, Runhouse and Upper Quadrant are not just case studies in what worked this past Spring 2020, but likely are a road map for Fall 2020 and beyond. Change this fast is not easy. “Never more proud to be part of this industry, this store. It made me appreciate our team and customer base more than ever,” says Mansfield. What will never change is legendary customer service, incredibly resilient run store customers and rewards for creative retailers. n Dean Gill is a client service director for run specialty at Upper Quadrant. He can be reached through its website,, or at © 2020 Diversified Communications


The Numbers Tell The 2020 Story

(so far)

NPD research points towards areas of opportunity for retailers as they reopen. / By Dirk Sorenson


he profound and unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 have hit the specialty retail running landscape particularly hard. Running shoe sales were trending upward prior to COVID-19 becoming a full-blown crisis in the U.S.; however, as has been the fate of many industries, the pandemic hurled the running market out of its stride.

Stepping into March, running shoe sales within the sporting goods and specialty channels were growing in the U.S., up 2 percent year-over-year to $2.3 billion in the 12 months ending February 2020. Road running sales grew around 1 percent and trail running was up 14.5 percent over the course of the year. Smaller brands such as Hoka One One, On Running and Altra were all experiencing double-digit growth.

The specialty brick-and-mortar retailers were gaining share in a growing market. Outdoor specialty gained a point of share, growing 20 percent, and running specialty had also gained a point of share, growing 5 percent. The wind of retail seemed to be at the back of performance running. With sales growing in the prior 12 months, March underscores the complete devastation that this crisis has had

Large-scale race events won’t be returning any time soon, but research indicates that more runners will mean more customers as the country reopens. Photo by Michael Carruth on Unsplash


Š 2020 Diversified Communications

With most running races suspended for the summer, retailers and manufacturers will need to pivot to position running as a healthy, everyday activity with broader appeal.

A desire for continued social distancing may lead to a surge in trail running. Photo courtesy of Runhouse.

on the market. Overall March sales declined by 40 percent compared to March 2019, with outdoor and running specialty sales down by 48 percent and 44 percent, respectively. Through the lense of NPD’s weekly data, this negative sales trend has continued; however, promising news can be found in the more recent weeks, which show some evidence of rebound. Running shoe sales between May 3 and May 16 are still down dramatically (-25 percent), but that is an improvement over the larger declines seen during the early weeks of the COVID-19 crisis. Taking Advantage of a Challenge So, how does the specialty running market emerge from this challenge? One key opportunity is to tap into the stronger consumer desire to be healthy at home. During March and April, home fitness equipment sales grew by 131 percent to $756 million, compared to $326 million 17

the year prior. Cardiovascular equipment, including treadmills, has been a particularly strong category, growing by 157 percent in these two months. Wit h st ay-at-home orders forcing consumers to be homebound, gyms to be shuttered and public parks and trails to be closed, this desire to exercise on cardio equipment in the confines of our homes became a natural reaction. Where does running fit in here? These treadmill runners are going to need the proper shoes and apparel to take full advantage of these equipment purchases. Beyond the four walls, retailers and manufacturers may have to evolve their offerings quickly to take advantage of consumer behaviors and choices on where they choose to run, as people take their running habit outdoors. The desire for social distancing over the summer months may only increase interest in trail running, a growing

category pre-COVID-19. This opportunity will be a natural fit for some brands aligned to the trail running movement, but a more challenging direction for others that are not as established in this market. Additionally, the need to increase digital presence has only accelerated during the pandemic. Online selling as well as online training applications and smart devices were already a growing trend, but the crisis has only fast-tracked adoption. Localizing these initiatives for specialty retailers may be a smart step. Simple steps like e-mailing local customer bases may make profound differences for retail. Fi na lly, wit h most r unning races suspended for the summer, retailers and manufacturers will need to pivot to position running as a healthy, everyday activity with broader appeal. A focus on races and racing, whether it is a 5K or an Ultra, will need to take the

backseat for this year and be replaced with new messaging to engage people on the simple pleasures that running provides. The new reality of today does not have to be a burden for the industry; there are a number of means by which the running market can redirect the energy from the COVID-19 storm and regain lift. n Source: The NPD Group/ U.S. Retail Tracking Service (Data spans the athletic specialty/ sporting goods, running specialty, outdoor specialty and sport specialty e-commerce channels) Dirk Sorenson , Executive Director, Industry Analyst in The NPD Group’s Sports practice, covers the bicycle, outdoor, and team sports equipment categories. Dirk travels extensively to provide insight on the U.S. sports landscape to the cycling and outdoor equipment manufacturing and retail communities. Dirk’s knowledge of data-bound product management strategies is sought after by top global manufacturers. He has been a speaker at industry tradeshows including Outdoor Retailer, Bicycle L e a d e r s h i p C o n f e re n c e , Interbike, Pa d dlesports Retailer, and The Running Event. © 2020 Diversified Communications


BOPIS In A New World Innovative technologies are making curbside pickup a viable retail option even as stores reopen.


s the entire world shifts in ways never imagined, there are hints of hope as businesses begin to reopen. However, these reopenings come with various new restrictions — limits of the number of people in a store (if they are even allowed inside at all at this point) is one of the key limitations retailers are forced to deal with. But out of the pandemic-mandated closings came a new idea that has been rapidly adapted by run retailers — curbside pickups. This is allowing retailers to at least partially get back to selling product while gradually heading towards more traditional retailing. And it is proving to be successful enough that many believe the practice will remain part of a retail landscape even as things get back to “normal.” In the past, there was very little demand to pick up items without entering the store. In fact, retailers wanted people to actually come in the store to look around, buy something and possibly be upsold a pair of socks or some nutrition items. But in a post-COVID-19 world, to ensure social distancing and take the right precautions it’s now critical to shift the way items are sold to be able to protect employees and customers and stay in business. Already adopted by the likes of Target and Walmart and most other larger retailers, the concept of what has been called “BOPIS” (Buy Online, Pick Up in Store) has found a foothold at run retail. Putting Together a Curbside Program Offering a BOPIS curbside pickup program can be a great alternative to allowing customers in stores. Some owners simply ask people to call when they arrive. If sales are infrequent, this method is sufficient, but many running retailers are finding that


Photo: Numa

the demand is increasing with an uptick in outdoor exercise. Still, it’s difficult to justify keeping a full staff roster just to answer the phone. A way to avoid this problem is to use a curbside or texting tool that can assist with limited staff and give customers a smoother curbside experience. Ray Pugsley, of Potomac River Running, uses technology from Numa (https://www. to coordinate with customers via text. The service has customizable automatic answers that shepherd callers to online ordering and through curbside pickup coordination. Once the customer arrives, Pugsley’s team gets a notification on the Numa app, which saves his staff from having to be by the phone. “When we only have one person in the store, it’s really hard to get to the phone,” Pugsley says. “Someone might be in the

back room and doesn’t hear it. But a lot of people are calling. We don’t want to miss a single sale right now.” Other retailers put up signs that say “text us” when customers are not allowed in the store or location. Pugsley is an example of an owner who is experimenting with different methods among his stores in different locations. He warns to ensure that a curbside option is right for your customers before setting it up. It’s important to pause and ask, in your geography, what would make customers most comfortable? In some locations, a car-only curbside program is necessary to make everyone feel safe at a distance. In others, consumers would like to come in the store, but can only do so with one or two people at a time. Offering online purchasing and curbside pickup to foot traffic can be advertised in the store’s window and in the voicemail message, reducing the need to wait to make an in-store purchase. Technology such as Numa’s can make all customer interactions safe and socially distanced. While it wasn’t always necessary before the pandemic, Internet-based technology has become crucial to doing business, which Pugsley considers a silver lining. “It forced us to get our act together on technology — like setting up a credit card processor to send payment verification via e-mail so that customers can add payment information themselves, which makes them feel very comfortable,” he says. While there are still devastating losses across the world, it’s the right moment to consider new technology, look forward and experiment with solutions such as BOPIS to start doing business again while keeping staff and customers safe. n

© 2020 Diversified Communications

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Drop-Date Dilemmas Stores may be reopening, but vendors are still struggling with when to introduce new footwear. / By Daniel P. Smith


oming out of The Running Event last November, Shawn Hoy and his Saucony colleagues were a giddy bunch. Saucony’s upcoming three-shoe Endorphin footwear collection, headlined by the carbon-plated Endorphin Pro racer, was one of the most talked about products in Austin, an undeniable belle of the annual industry ball. Into 2020, that shine persisted. In conjunction with the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in late February, Saucony offered a sneak peek of the Endorphin Pro at a VIP event hosted by Big Peach Running Co.’s Midtown Atlanta location. Two days after that triumphant gathering, Saucony athlete and marathon rookie Molly Seidel captured a runner-up spot in the women’s race sporting the Endorphin Pro. With a hit on their hands, Saucony leaders like Hoy, the vice president of global product, began earnest conversations about dropping the Endorphin Pro into the marketplace sooner rather than later. Then COVID-19 made landfall, sweeping over the U.S. landscape and shuttering run shops across the country. The unprecedented punch to American life forced brands to reconsider so many plans, including how footwear drop dates might mesh with a running retail marketplace only now beginning to reopen and resume quasinormal operations. Over recent weeks, a slew of updated models hit the market as planned, including the 37th edition of the Nike Pegasus 20

Though Saucony announced on April 8 that the release of its hotly anticipated Endorphin Pro carbon-plated racer would come on July 1, leadership at the Boston-based company revised that release date given robust consumer interest, an early arrival from production and pockets of positive marketplace news. The Endorphin Pro is currently arriving at brick-and-mortar run specialty stores.

and Mizuno’s Wave Horizon 4, while some highly anticipated new entrants such as New Balance’s speedy FuelCell Prism debuted as well.

Other footwear models, however, have had their targeted drop dates moved. From supply chain and inventory concerns to marketing, a mix of factors have played

© 2020 Diversified Communications

Drop-Date Dilemmas (continued)

Initially planned for a limited April release, the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 (upper left) will now debut on September 1. Brooks chief marketing officer Melanie Allen says the new date considers the evolution of retail and running environments amid COVID-19. On Running similarly elected to delay the release of its Cloudflyer model. Originally set to debut on June 18, the third version of On’s popular stability shoe will now drop on August 20.

into brand leaders’ ultimate decisions to alter shoe-launch dates — and the rejiggering might not be done. Delaying Key Models In the Running Industry Association’s (RIA) COVID19 Brand Survey released on May 18, one quarter of run specialty brands repor ted they would delay new product launches in an effort to manage excess inventory amid a high level of order cancellations. In the impending third quarter, nearly half of brands anticipate delaying product launches at least one month. Such delays capture outsized attention in the footwear space, where running shops and their 22

most fanatical consumers tend to eagerly await hyped-up new models and fresh editions of old favorites — perhaps even more so amid a global health pandemic. W h i le Br o ok s i n it ia l ly planned a limited release of its much-ballyhooed update to the Hyperion Elite at the close of April, the Seattle-based run specialty pacesetter has since decided to do a full-run launch of the Hyperion Elite 2 on September 1. “Amidst the disruption of this global pandemic, we are maintaining our focus on the needs of the runner while also being mindful of the retail landscape,” Brooks chief marketing officer Melanie Allen says, adding that the debut of the Levitate 4 and

Bedlam 3 have also been pushed from June 1 to August 1. In setting the new launch dates, Allen says Brooks carefully considered the evolving retail and running environments as well as the unique challenges facing retailers. “It’s important for us to acknowledge the inventory that these retailers are balancing as a result of shutdowns,” Allen says. “By shifting launch dates, we’re hoping that these staggered intros can help them manage their business as they reopen their stores.” Brooks is far from alone in delaying footwear introductions. Though the third iteration of its popular Cloudflyer model was set to debut June 18, On

Running backed up the release to August 20 to ensure that the company’s run specialty partners could activate on the launch with their doors open. Altra Makes Its Move Altra had planned to release its Torin 4.5 Plush and Superior 4.5 in May, yet both of those models are now slotted for June. The Escalante 2.5 and Paradigm 5 slated for June and July, respectively, will both now appear in August. “We have decided to make the change in releases to allow our retail partners to clear through their existing inventory of old styles prior to these releases and ensure that they are not over-inventoried in our © 2020 Diversified Communications

Add The Running Event to your 2020 plans! Contact Christina Henderson to reserve a booth.


Drop-Date Dilemmas (continued)

New Balance did not alter the drop of its FuelCell Prism. The latest shoe in its FuelCell platform, the $120, engineered-for-speed, Prism debuted on June 1 as planned.

product coming out of the current situation,” Altra product line manager Alex Lind tells Running Insight. 361 Degrees had two key models scheduled to drop in the second half of 2020: the Strata 4, the hero of its stability collection, and a new everyday trainer called the Fierce. The Strata 4’s debut has moved from July to September, while the Fierce will now make its marketplace entry in February 2021. “Our first delay was a result of our supply chain being impacted in Asia. Then as the retail environment here became impacted, it changed the pace at which we moved our existing inventory,” 361 Degrees USA president Jim Monahan says. Mizuno, meanwhile, repositioned the release of the Rider 24

24 from June 12 to August 1. Chuck Couch, VP–running for Mizuno North America, says the decision to delay the drop of its always-popular flagship model was made in unison with Mizuno regions around the world and resulted from “aggressive listening” to retailers. “It was clear to us in midMa rch t hat we had to be proactive and sympathetic to what’s happening in the retail landscape,” Couch says. “Sticking with our normal cadence seemed insensitive to what’s going on and felt like putting hurdles on [retailers’] plates at a time when they were already full.” By shifting to the August relea se d at e, Couch says Mizuno’s retail partners have more time to get their bearings

and can introduce the Rider 24 amid the important back-toschool season. “We lose months on the clock [by delaying the Rider 24], but it’s the right thing to do for all involved,” Couch says. Pushing Up Endorphin Pro Despite its post-Trials’ interest in quickening the Endorphin Pro’s market arrival, Saucony announced on April 8 that it had made the “difficult decision to shift the Endorphin Pro launch date to July 1.” But a funny thing happened on that march to summer. First, stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic pushed people into outdoors activity in record numbers. Tracked running workouts in the MapMyRun app, for instance, jumped 144

percent over 2019, while new users soared 428 percent. “We saw people out there running and we were feeling that energy,” Hoy says. After the Endorphin Pros arrived on Saucony’s doorstep earlier than expected and a limited, early-May pre-sale of the $200 model online at sold out in about 48 hours, Saucony leadership decided to bring the Endorphin Pro to market ASAP. On May 18, select running retailers began taking pre-orders for the Endorphin Pro on their own websites and the model is now arriving at brick-and-mortar run specialty stores. “COVID-19 was incredibly disruptive on retail, but we had seen enough pockets of positive news to come out with the © 2020 Diversified Communications

Prompted by supply chain delays and realities in the run specialty retail marketplace, 361 Degrees pushed back the debut of the Strata 4, the latest edition of the company’s flagship stability shoe. Initially slated to drop in July, the Strata 4 will now hit the market in September.

Endorphin Pro earlier than expected,” Hoy says. “The product’s here, the appetite’s there, so let’s get it out and onto runners’ feet. We didn’t see value in waiting.” Over the last two weeks, running shops like Boston-based Ma rathon Spor ts a nd Big Peach Running Co. promoted the Endorphin Pro’s arrival on their digital channels, adding a positive jolt of energy amid the talk of altered store operations and safety precautions. “There’s a need for the run specialty marketplace to continue to have newness and excitement and we want to make sure we’re serving our run specialty partners with exciting product,” Hoy says. The Endorphin Pro isn’t the only model release Saucony 25

decided to elevate. The Triumph 18, originally scheduled for a November release, will now drop in August. “We feel we’re in a healthy position from an inventory perspective and that enables us to bring newness into the market,” Hoy says. The Foggy Crystal Ball While COVID-19 spurred many brands to reconsider and subsequently alter footwea r launch dates, bra nd leaders express guarded optimism that normal schedules will resume. According to the RIA survey, only 15 percent of brands expect product launch delays in Spring 2021, though nearly half of brands consider it “too early to tell” if delays will occur.

For now, Mizuno is leaving its January and March 2021 footwear launches in place, according to Couch. The bigger shift, he says, concerns the upcoming Rider 24’s lifecycle. While Mizuno traditionally adds new colorways halfway through the model’s year-long run, it is foregoing that practice given the Rider 24’s abridged lifespan.“That’s been received well by our accounts,” Couch says. “We don’t want to compound problems … and have made decisions with the longterm in mind.” At 361, where 18-month footwear cycles are the norm, Monahan acknowledges the “fog level of that crystal ball we all like to look into is at an all-time high.” The longtime industry executive suspects 361’s

product introduction schedule will reset by Spring 2022 and assures that decisions will be based on inventory levels of existing items and how well they are holding their value in the market. “The primary goal is not to saturate the market with offprice goods to make room for the new,” Monahan says. “If we can extend the life of a shoe another three-to-six months because consumer demand is there, we will do it.” Saucony, meanwhile, will continually work to strike a balance between clean inventory levels and injecting newness into the market, Hoy assures. “We will continue to monitor this, speeding up or slowing down as the marketplace dictates,” he says. n © 2020 Diversified Communications



Eight pages of trend-right run fashion from the major apparel brands for Summer/Fall 2020.

As run specialty retailers cautiously reopen their doors one of their major decisions is what apparel brands to carry in their more-limited space and how to make sure they are offering the hottest in fashion along with the latest in technology for their clients. To help out, Running Insight presents this RUNNING RUNWAY, highlighting the looks that will bring customers back to their stores – and leave with the clothes that will light up the running scene this summer and fall. Falke Summer 2020 running apparel includes shirts for women and men in combination with sports tights or shorts. Performance-oriented runners rely on Falke compression tights for less fatigue during running and faster recovery afterwards, while the elastic waistband with internal drawstring and the additionally integrated key pocket round off the functionality.


Š 2020 Diversified Communications

Nike’s Wild Run is a nod to disruptors in running, with bold colors and color blocked panels that are randomly cut, ensuring that no two styles are the same. the 2020 collection includes hat, jacket and shorts.

The Nike Trail 3 collection includes a Dri-Fit Pro Trail Cap, the Rise 365 short sleeve top and Phenom Elite Hybrid jogger pant.

The Tracksmith Twilight Crop Tank for women (MSRP $58) is made from the brand’s lightweight micro-mesh Bravio Blend in an understated silhouette with dialed-back trims.

Runners can showcase their American pride with the Headsweats Repreve Americana Short Sleeve Performance Tee Shirt. This Repreve shirt is made of sustainable fabric with four recycled plastic bottles.


© 2020 Diversified Communications

Winner of a Backpacker Editors’ Choice Green Award and an Outdoor Industry Innovation Award for sustainability, the GoLite ReGreen Windshell leverages 100 percent recycled polyester made from Da.Ai -Certified green bottles. By making the fabric from recycled bottles GoLite saves more than 50 percent of the energy that would normally have been required to make fabric. By not dying the fabric, it further reduces water consumption by up to 80 percent. MSRP $100. The Trino SL Anorak from Arc’teryx is made with windproof Gore-Tex Infinium fabric. Teslin panels under the arms and on the back promote venting, while a kangaroo pocket with zippered entry and an internal security pocket let runners securely stash small essentials.


The Swing Shift 2020 Summer Collection from 2UNDR features its popular style in four new prints, including the island getaway inspired Cast Away. Swing Shift features the patented Joey Pouch to deliver the perfect fit while preventing unwanted skin contact and chafing.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

The GoLite ReFly shorts leverage the latest recycled fibers, resulting in lightweight performance for warm weather adventures. Weighing in at mere ounces, these shorts pack tight in a backpack, daypack or suitcase. MSRP $60. The Long Haul Cap is Territory Run’s top seller because it has an unstructured nylon front panel with a nice deep fit, along with a moisture-wicking sweatband and crushable brim.

The ASICS Strong collection includes the Luxe Traveler bra, with supporting paneling and a moisture-wicking fabric; the Luxe Traveler Reversible Jacket, with an oversized fit and a high-neck collar and full-zip; and the Luxe Traveler Tight, which features a soft knit fabric and elastic waistband.


Š 2020 Diversified Communications

The AP Training Jacket from Sugoi, for men and women, offers full garment Zap reflective visibility, designed for high visibility when struck by artificial light. The Titan Zap Tights have Helix fabric for supportive stretch paneled with Zap reflectivity for high visibility and a comfort elastic waist.

Ranka’s flagship Fasciawear running apparel features a patented tension-band structure that improves core muscle activation and balances the runner’s body. It keeps runners on the go by helping them reduce exercise-related muscle and joint pain.

BloqUV’s men’s Mock Zip Top (left) provides neck coverage, functional pocket and reflective trim with moisture wicking and quick dry benefits for running. BloqUV is a sun protective lifestyle brand that blocks 98 percent of sun’s rays. The women’s Hoodie Jacket – Full Zip has elongated sleeves for hand protection and reflective trim for night visibility, while the compression long tights have two side pockets large enough for water bottle or phone and mini waistband pocket.


© 2020 Diversified Communications

The Brooks Running Dare Crossback run bra (MSRP: $60), offered in sizes 30-40 band in A/B cup, C/D cup, and DD/E cup, features a streamlined shape and run-ready support with a smooth, crossback style. The 5567 Extreme Control Plus sports bra from Anita has been designed and developed up to a K cup. The cups are divided into five sections to create the necessary depth and to provide an exceptional stable fit and the supporting, structured side section has functional, breathable mesh.

Cotpaxi’s women’s Mariposa Leggings feature a high-rise waist for comfort and the internal stash pocket on the back waistband secures car keys or cards. The Mariposa also features flat-lock seams throughout for durability, a stylish, bonded ankle cut-out and some subtle, striped style on the lower leg for a unique finish.


© 2020 Diversified Communications

Vuori’s Lux Performance Tank (MSRP $44) has all of the elements of a workout top without compromising style and the Clementine Short (MSRP $58) includes a bikini brief liner and ultraweight stretch fabric.

Performance all-day men’s lightweight shorts from On Running are versatile and comfortable, but sturdy and stylish, with zero zips or hard points and ultralight and stretchy fabric.

The Brooks Running Shield Hybrid Jacket for men and women (MSRP $160) offers windproof and water-resistant paneling in critical zones and lightweight insulation.


© 2020 Diversified Communications

The Under Armour Rush Run Stamina Tights (left) feature a mineral-infused fabric that takes the energy given off and reflects it back into the muscles, increasing blood flow and helping them work harder. Also with a wide, high-rise waistband and internal drawcord to provide coverage and support. The UA Breeze T (right) features Gore-Tex Infinium fabric that is soft, breathable and lightweight for next-level comfort and versatility, along with reflective details. Vuori’s versatile 5-inch Banks Short (MSRP $68) is basically one short for both running and cooling off in the ocean afterward.


The Runderwear Easy-On Support Bra is a game-changer in supportive sports bras for women of all shapes and sizes because it is available in more than 70 sizes (28D-40H) with molded cups to encapsulate and compartmentalize each breast, controlling movement across the three planes of the body (up and down, in and out and side to side).

Š 2020 Diversified Communications


Running Goes Global for a Day Global Running Day June 3 provides a perfect opportunity for a special store event.


un specialty retailers looking for an even more special event to link into as their stores reopen can mark June 3 on their calendars, as stores and brands make a special effort to celebrate the annual Global Running Day in a new virtual environment. That can-do spirit exhibited by the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic the past three months will be on full display as everyone gets creative to celebrate the importance of running. Here are a host of examples special events being planned for June 3 and beyond. Under Armour ‘Through his Together’ Under Armour is sponsoring what it calls the “Through This Together” Challenge, a 30-day MapMyRun challenge in celebration of Global Running Day. Runners can join the challenge from May 4 to June 3 to work towards a personal goal of 30 miles in 30 days — an accomplishment worthy of celebration on Global Running Day. UA expects its global community of runners on MapMyRun to be running for a collective goal of three million miles. Runners who reach their personal goal of running 30 miles in 30 days will be entered in a random drawing, where 100 winners will receive two pairs of UA HOVR Machina shoes: one for themselves and one for someone who inspires them during this time. MapMyRun is also offering a “Through This Together” 5K training plan free for all users, to guide those new to running and help them reach their goals. Additionally, UA is offering a full day of live streaming content on @uarunning and will be showcasing its pro athletes, run crew leaders, coaches and members of the running community. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., they’ll be discussing topics such as training, recovery and community.


The UA HOVR Infinite 2 Global Running Day colorway design incorporates the kilometer, which is the most widely used distance measure for races. The shoe will be available starting June 3 on

Road Runner Partners With Stride Road Runner Sports is partnering with Stride, the boutique fitness franchise that offers treadmill-based cardio and strength workouts, to host their own national virtual race on Global Running Day. For their $35 entry fee, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Feeding America, participants will receive a downloadable bib number, branded T-shirt, finish line photo and participation medal along with a training plan from Stride and access to the brand’s “Go the Distance While You Keep Your Distance” Facebook Page, which offers daily running, strength training, and recovery workouts. “I’ve been in the running business a long time and I’ve seen the industry change dramatically with the times,” says Mike Gotfredson, CEO and founder of Road Runner Sports. “That’s why I believe virtual races like the one we’re creating with Stride are a big part of the future of running. It’s a fun, safe way for runners and walkers all over America and the world to connect.” Dick Pond: A Run, A Pint, A BBQ Dick Pond Park Ridge is inviting local runners to participate in its virtual Global

Running Day to benefit Mercy Home for Boys & Girls. Participants can purchase a commemorative pint glass for $10 ($13 if they want it shipped) to keep and 100 percent of the proceeds from the glass will be donated. Then on June 3 they can participate in the retailer’s virtual Global Running Day by printing off their bib and going for a run. At 6 p.m. that evening they can then swing by Dick Pond Park Ridge to pick up a “to-go” hot dog or hamburger to enjoy later (with social distancing guidelines in mind when attending, of course). Participants are also urged to take pictures of their run and post them to social media using #globalrunningday and #dpparkridge. JackRabbit’s Global Mile Wr it i ng on it s I n st a g r a m p a ge, JackRabbit is inviting the entire global running community to virtually come together on Global Running Day. The retailer is asking runners to run/walk/ hike/skip one mile on GRD. The Global Mile will act as a symbol to all participants that “although we can’t race together right now, we are still always running together. We are always there to

© 2020 Diversified Communications

support each other.” As a lead up to the June 3 event JackRabbit is offering weekly mini-challenges to help its community train for the big day. Fleet Feet Virtual Running Event Fleet Feet’s fourth annual Global Running Day event, The Big Run, is going virtual and has been renamed My Big Run. The June 3 Global Running Day initiative will take place in partnership with Brooks and provide runners with a dedicated virtual community event that celebrates running with fun download-and-print race kits, awards prizes in inventive categories, and helps raise money for Girls on the Run. For $10, participants choose one of five race distances – one mile, 5K, 10K, half marathon or full marathon – to complete. Participants will receive a virtual race kit that includes a digital medal, print-your-own bib and other photo props, a $15 voucher to use at their local Fleet Feet store and access to curated Fleet Feet content and tips. Runners can upload results on June 3 by 11:59 p.m. PST via text message, email or the RunSignUp race registration platform. “We know a lot of new runners have taken to the sidewalks and greenways in an effort to stay healthy during the past two months, and it’s been a huge bright spot for us to see this energy and excitement within our communities,” says Joey Pointer, CEO and president of Fleet Feet. “Whether you’ve previously run 50 marathons or are aiming to run your first mile, Fleet Feet’s My Big Run 35

Fleet Feet has renamed its annual Global Running Day event “My Big Run” and is going virtual in partnership with Brooks.

gives everyone the chance to cross their own personal finish line.” In addition to submitting their race results, Fleet Feet encourages runners to share images f rom thei r r un on Instagram for the chance to win a variety of prizes from running brands such as Brooks, Addaday, Amphipod, Balega, Feetures, Garmin, Gu Energy, Nathan, Nuun, Ooofos and Superfeet. NYRR Uniting People Digitally New York Road Runners (NYRR) virtual and digital experiences for Global Running Day will digitally unite people around the world to encourage physical wellness, strengthen community and offer support. Thousands of runners will participate in a one-mile virtual race, the NYRR Virtual Global Running Day 1M. Additionally, NYRR will host several interactive opportunities, including a social media challenge, online community programming, and interactive digital and social

experiences to engage the running community. “Global Running Day connects people from all over the world around the positive impact running can have on our lives,” says Michael Capiraso, NYRR president and CEO. “During these times, it’s more important than ever that we appreciate how running safely can help strengthen us both physically and mentally.” Aftershokz Youth Grants A f t erShok z, t he m a nufacturer of bone conduction headphones, recently launched its Making Stridez Grant for h igh school a nd A mateu r Athletic Union (AAU) track and field and cross-country teams. The initiative will help financially support deserving team programs in celebration of Global Running Day. From May 1 through June 15, AfterShokz is accepting grant nominations for coaches and programs that have positively impacted the youth running c om mu n it ie s t h ey s e r ve.

Nominations are open to the general public. Each nominated coach and program will be eligible for a chance to receive a $3000 grant from AfterShokz, Goodr Sunglasses for their entire team and a Team Prize Pack that includes AfterShokz headphones and $250 shared gift cards from Science In Sport, Nathan Sports, Nuun, Orange Mud and Zealios. Once nominations close on June 15, semi-finalists will be notified and will be required to submit a short video explaining their need and how the grant would assist with furthering the betterment of their program. The grant-winning program and two finalists will be announced on August 13, 2020. “When it comes to choosing company initiatives, authenticity is most important to us and this grant is a testament to that focus,” says Kim Fassetta, CMO at AfterShokz. “Since our start, we’ve cultivated a company culture built on the pillars of dedication and community service.” n © 2020 Diversified Communications

running shorts Boston Marathon Cancelled, Race Offering Virtual Alternative to 2020 Race THE 124TH BOSTON MARATHON, already rescheduled for Sept. 14, has been cancelled and now will be held as a virtual event, following Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s cancellation of the marathon as a mass participation road running event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All participants who were originally registered for the April 20, 2020 event will be offered a refund for their full entry fee associated with the race and will have the opportunity to participate in the virtual Boston Marathon, which can be run any time between September 7–14. “Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters,” said Tom Grilk, C.E.O. of the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) in making the announcement on May 28. “While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th

Boston Marathon.” The BAA will offer a series of virtual events & activities throughout September’s Marathon Week to bring the Boston Marathon experience to the world. This will include exclusive panel discussions, champions interviews, and a downloadable toolkit with signature race elements. Participants in the virtual 2020 Boston Marathon will be required to complete the 26.2 mile distance within 6 hours & provide proof of timing. All finishers of the virtual race will receive an official Boston Marathon program, participant t-shirt, medal, & runner’s bib. The BAA 5K scheduled for September 12 has also been canceled due to coronavirus. All participants who were originally registered for the April 18, 2020 event will be offered a refund. F o r m o r e : h t t p s : / / w w w. b a a . org/124th-boston-marathon-be-held-virtually

Hyperice Debuts TV Commercial Hyperice, maker of the Hypervolt vibrating massage tool, ran its first TV ad last week during “The Match: Champions for Charity Event.” The 30-second commercial, “All of Us,” featured tennis star Naomi Osaka and other athletes using Hyperice’s recovery equipment.

donated to the Vermont Foodbank. “Our machines knit socks in the heart of Vermont and this was our way we could help our own community immediately,” explains Ric Cabot, president and CEO. “The Vermont Foodbank strives to gather and share quality food so that no one in the state will go hungry. As a local family-owned business, we value the role we can play to support Vermonters who need it most.”

Darn Tough Benefits Foodbank As its own Vermont neighbors struggle to make ends meet, Darn Tough Vermont decided to help raise much needed dollars in a way that they uniquely could. The team quickly developed the Foodbank Farmer’s Market sock and every penny of its sales is being 36

Body Glide Starts Restart Program Looking to work with its retail partners as they reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, Body Glide has instituted what it calls The June Restart Program. The program offers 25 percent off all

Oofos Honors Finigan With Limited Edition Sandal Design

To mark the one-year anniversary of the passing of popular Oofos employee Duncan Finigan, the brand last week unveiled the DF OOlala sandal featuring her initials in a black, pink and green version of the women’s sandal. All profits from the limited-edition style will go to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The $70 style is available now at

orders and free units of Face Glide (up to six per store) to keep store associates comfortable under masks. “Running has always showed strength through adversity and Body Glide is proud to be part of this community,” company founder and CEO Bill Sternoff says. For more: Franklin Names Pryor President Cathy Pryor was recently named president at Franklin Retail Solutions, a provider of in-store services within major retailers in the sports, outdoor and fitness industries. Pryor was an executive officer and VP of Store operations at Hibbett Sports leading a team responsible for over 1000 Hibbett locations.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

running shorts RIA Survey Gauges Impact of COVID-19 On Running Brands CONTINUING ITS EFFORT TO GAUGE the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the run specialty channel, the Running Industry Association (RIA) this week released a survey of running brands. The results show an extremely challenging situation for most brands, with a ray of hope down the road a bit — as long as it isn’t too far down the road. According to the executive summary of the RIA report, despite 81 percent of brands actively shipping, only 20 percent maintained their March shipping forecast. “With that said, 75 percent don’t expect shipping normalcy until sometime in Q3. Over half of brands are delaying product launches (for Q3/4) and/or slowing supply

chains to prevent inventory surpluses in anticipation of 20-60 percent reduction in 2020 sales,” according to RIA. The good news is only 15 percent expect Spring 21 product delays, although over 40 percent said it is too early to tell. Brands are doing everything they can to support retailers with 80 percent using or partnering with e-commerce platforms. 90 percent expect their sell-in rates for 2021 to be negatively impacted by COVID-19. As expected, RIA reported, “the crisis is hitting smaller brands harder,” although about half of both large and small brand reported layoffs or furloughs with smaller brands letting go of more employees than large brands.

The most disturbing finding: “If the crisis continues into Q3 2020 and beyond into Q3 2021, 40 percent of brands don’t think they will survive.” Among the other findings: • 75 percent reported they don’t expect normalcy until at least Q3 • 48 percent expect supply chain disruptions in the coming months • 80 percent are using or partnering with ecommerce platforms to support retailers • 40 percent of the brands don’t think they will survive if crisis continues into Q3 and beyond To see the entire survey report: ciTKJaOzn7XrsfPddvQVVBVt9Rb/view

Best Running Stores Winners Revealed

meet the specific physiological needs of an athlete either before, during or after workouts. The Podium Series by Nuun is available now at, Whole Foods, REI, and premium run and bike specialty stores.

works by targeting the sensitive nerves that are not used to strenuous use. “Not having to worry about soreness hampering a workout might be the difference between a bumpy or seamless transition back to training.” For more:

The winners of the 2020 Best Running Stores have been announced and the complete list can be viewed at https:// Originally scheduled for May, the Best Running Stores event in Georgia was cancelled due to the magnitude of the public health and safety issues posed by COVID-19. The 60 winners – all of whom will be profiled in the July 1 issue of Running Insight – will be recognized at The Running Event, which will be held December 1-3, 2020, in Austin, TX. Nuun Debuts The Podium Series Nuun recently launched The Podium Series, designed for high-effort and high-performance exercise. The Podium Series consists of three formulas: Nuun Prime, Nuun Endurance and Nuun Recover. Each of these is intended to 37

Hotshot’s Solution to DOMS As the industry reopens – and runners start ramping up their workouts in the warmer weather after enduring a pandemic-mandated lockdown – an unintended result is called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Runners feel DOMS most acutely with a change in routine or increase in intensity or duration of exercise versus what their bodies are used to feeling. Hotshot is giving retailers an answer to the sore muscles their customers will inevitably feel as they return to running. “We know Hotshot works in reducing muscle soreness and there has been research done on the role for agitated nerves on the feeling of delayed onset muscle soreness,” says the company’s Matt Wohl. He explains that Hotshot

Theragun Rebrands To Therabody Theragun, the maker of hand-held percussive therapy devices, has rebranded to Therabody as it plans to launch a USDA-certified organic CBD line, TheraOne, as well as Theragun’s fourth generation percussive massage devices. Therabody currently has two divisions – Theragun and TheraOne – with plans to develop and expand into additional sectors in the future. Slated for a Summer 2020 launch, all TheraOne products are cultivated, manufactured, and packaged in Colorado, the first U.S. state with state-level hemp regulation, and formulated using patent-pending Biosorb Technology to maximize the absorption of the natural benefits of plants.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

One Last Thing:

A REOPENING CHECKLIST 1. Plan Ahead: Transition Back to Work

Assess cleaning, staffing and safety policies and practices Implement protocols to limit the spread of COVID-19 Develop a response plan if an employee contracts COVID-19 2. Workplace Policies & Procedures

Provide or reimburse employees for face masks/PPE Screening measures for employees (temperature/symptom checks) Hand sanitizer at store entrances and checkouts for customer and employee use Establish a cleaning program for regular store sanitizing/disinfecting 3. Exterior/Interior Store Modifications

Outside queue lines • Order Online, Pick-up In Store • Signage 4. Point of Sale in the COVID-19 Era

Plexiglass barriers • Self-checkout Kiosk • Touch-free Mobile Payment Social Distancing Signage • Cashier Station Spacing This checklist was provided by the National Sporting Goods Association. For more reopening resources:


© 2020 Diversified Communications

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