Running Insight 7.1.2021

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Retail Technology Takes Center Stage ... Page 24

THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM

JULY 1, 2021

GOLD RUSH Run specialty retailers and their key vendors debate how to pace their marketing and sponsorship efforts for the Tokyo Olympics.

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GOING FOR THE

GOLD? Run shops are not in a rush, but they are finally leaning into the Tokyo Olympics as concerns vanish. / By Daniel P. Smith

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ob Coll readily acknowledges he exists in a different environment than most. The owner of the Eugene Running Company in Eugene, OR, Coll understands the euphoria that surrounds running in TrackTown USA and how that can benefit his 17-year-old store. Elite events at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field, Olympic athletes roaming about, Nike’s history with the college town and a running-rich culture have long made Eugene one of the nation’s premier running cities. And around the Olympics, Coll and his Eugene Running Company tend to turn up the heat. His store has hosted meet and greets with Olympic champions Bob Schul

and Billy Mills – 5K and 10K champs in 1964, respectively – peddled USAthemed gear and shared information on the Olympics schedule and its athletes to drive interest in the sport. But the big question for Coll and other run specialty retailers who have previously jumped onto the Olympics marketing and promotional bandwagon with both feet is whether to go for the gold this summer, or not.. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be piggybacking on excitement for the Olympics and the best athletes in the world,” says Coll, who operates the retailer with his wife, Laura, an accomplished long-distance runner who competed in four U.S. Olympic

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2021 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.

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Team Trials herself. But just how far to jump into the Olympics game this year – as the question of whether the Tokyo Games would even be held lingering into the summer as the July 23 opening ceremony inched closer – has forced retailers and brands to hedge their bets on Olympics-themed efforts. Running Takes Center Lane The good news: After a one-year delay and much consternation ignited by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics finally appear to be on pace for their lateJuly start. For the nation’s running stores, the Olympics have historically presented a

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Going for the Gold? (continued) unique opportunity to cultivate interest in running, foster community and build energy for the sport. No other event after all – not the Boston Marathon nor the World Championships nor manufactured, made-for-TV showdowns – matches the mainstream appeal of the Olympics. This year, NBCUniversal plans to broadcast 7000 hours of Olympic coverage across its various properties and track and field, as has been the case in past Olympics, will be among the marquee sports beaming into American homes. Though some run shops were understandably wary of devoting too much time, money and attention to events or offerings in their stores given the uncertainty around the Tokyo Olympics as 2021 unfolded, the event’s impending arrival is starting to stir up its typical excitement in the run specialty ranks. “If we can lean into the Olympics as a store and get people more excited, then it makes the sport more approachable,” Run Detroit owner Justin Craig says. “And that can only help.” Celebrating Connections A s t h e U. S . O l y m p i c Marathon Trials approached in February 2020 – the last “real” track event before the COVID pandemic shut down the world of running – Run Detroit hosted a panel discussion featuring two Trials participants – local high school teacher Zachary Ornelas and Erin Heenan, a mother of two making her Olympic Trials debut – as well as Desiree Linden’s husband, Ryan Linden. About 100 attendees filled a local brewery for the moderated Q&A event in which 4

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In advance of the Olympic Marathon Trials in February 2020, Run Detroit co-owner Justin Craig (left) hosted a panel discussion featuring (left to right) Ryan Linden, Erin Heenan and Zachary Ornelas.

panelists answered questions about daily routines and training while peppering in tips and encouragement to guests.

“Everyday runners sometimes see the elite athletes and think they must be aliens, but this humanized the athletes and

Brooks Running’s Run USA collection features the Launch 8 in a patriotic and USA-supporting red, white and blue color scheme.

built some hometown pride, too,” Craig says. “It was aspirational for the average person and I think everybody left that night feeling a bit more motivated, pumped up and excited to do their next workout.” Every Olympic year, including this year, the Eugene Running Company tries to build on the buzz the Games generate for running. On June 22, the store hosted 1972 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser Steve Savage with a fun run and special event that included Savage telling stores of the historic Munich Olympics. The Eugene Running Company is also leveraging the Colls’ personal relationship with U.S. distance runner Grant Fisher to share his story on the store’s Instagram page. Coll © 2021 Diversified Communications



Going for the Gold? (continued)

The Brooklyn Running Company will host the popular BKLYN Mile on August 8 – the final day of the Tokyo Olympics – with hopes that the “magic” in Tokyo inspires competition on the streets of Brooklyn. Photo: Ben Ko

says these efforts help to build connections between everyday runners and the athletes they will watch on television. “This is gives us authenticity and a genuine connection to elite-level running,” Coll says, adding that the social media interaction with Fisher, who boasts more than 15,000 Instagram followers, also brings new eyes to the Eugene Running Company. “We can cross-pollinate and build out our respective 6

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audiences.” While run shops might not have such direct connections to elite athletes as the Colls enjoy with Fisher, Coll says retailers can nevertheless use Instagram to highlight different distance runners on the U.S. team in advance of their events or call out outstanding performances in a way that is accessible to a general audience. In fact, that’s something the Brooklyn Running Company

will be looking to do throughout the Tokyo Games on its wellfollowed social media pages. Hosting viewing pa r ties for events like the Olympic Ma rathon or key distance races like the mile or 5000 meters offers run shops a way to bring running to the masses in a casual format. Such events provide socialization, of course, but also open the door to education, including conversations around issues such as race

tactics, pacing and nutrition. For the Olympic Marathon Trials in February 2020, the Brooklyn Running Company hosted a watch party at a local bar and the store’s marketing and events manager Steve Crnic anticipates streaming races from Tokyo in the shop later this month. During the 2016 Olympics, Run Detroit had two screens streaming competition from Rio in its store and Craig is © 2021 Diversified Communications


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Going for the Gold? (continued)

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As the 2016 Olympics in Rio drew near, Brooklyn Running Company hyped up Olympic-themed product, such as the Olympic colorway on Nike’s Zoom Flyknit Streak.

considering a larger-scale watch party this time around. “I think such events help to build a stronger community,” he says. “If we are going to get people energized and bring new people into the sport, then taking away some of that elitism is important.” Stores might also turn customers from spectators into participants with challenges, races and other special events that capture the Olympic spirit. Hyping the Games In conjunction with the 2016 Olympic Trials, the Eugene Running Company and ASICS teamed up to host an interactive track and field experience for children. The group took over a parking lot near Hayward Field for youth to engage in track and field-themed games such as throwing a soft javelin and running the 30-meter dash on a synthetic track. Participants also received bounce-back coupons to the store, which sits about two miles from Hayward Field. On Aug. 8, the final scheduled day of the Tokyo Olympics, the Brooklyn

Running Company will host the annual BKLYN Mile. Crnic hopes the hype of the Olympics spurs even more energy for the popular road race. “We’re excited about giving people the chance to compete on the roads in Brooklyn while simultaneously being inspired by the magic happening on the track in Tokyo,” Crnic says. And even if its local runners will not match the performance of those in Tokyo, they can at least look patriotic doing it. Numerous running stores across the country have been promoting red-white-and-blue gear from the likes of Brooks, Mizuno, goodr and Swiftwick of late, including iRun LOCAL in Saratoga Springs, NY, Fleet Feet Huntsville and North Carolina’s Run N Tri Outfitters. At the Eugene Running Company, Coll will soon roll out Nike’s Team USA kit. “There is patriotic gear that any store can leverage to get into the Olympic spirit and tap into American pride,” Coll reminds. n

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BRAND GAMES With Nike as the official Olympics partner, other running brands finding unique ways to play the Games.

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s the Tokyo Olympics approach and the bright lights shine on the world’s greatest athletes, many of the top performance running brands are leaning into the spirit of competition and the undeniable

magnificence of sport. Brands are celebrating patriotic pride and the pursuit of excellence with new product, championing their podium-chasing athletes and celebrating the Olympics’ long-standing ability to unite, inspire and motivate.

ALTRA Just in time for the Olympics, Altra has unveiled an Olympian-approved shoe. Long gravitating to support shoes in her own running endeavors, former Olympian – and distance running analyst for NBC’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympics – Kara Goucher helped design the sixth edition of the Altra Paradigm. The next-level support shoe balances GuideRail-powered stability and Altra Ego Max cushioning with a responsive ride and, at Goucher’s insistence, an un-dad-shoe-like aesthetic for some added pizzazz. The $160 Paradigm 6 drops July 1.

BROOKS The Olympics bring the world’s greatest athletes together to chase a spot on the podium. With its recently launched Victory Collection, Brooks enables everyday Joes and Janes to pursue their own lofty ambitions no matter where they might be — a virtual race in Germany, a trail run in Australia or a long run in Los Angeles, site of the Olympic Games in 2028. Featuring special colorways of the Hyperion Tempo, Launch 8 and Adrenaline GTS 21 as well as limited-edition apparel, the Victory Collection celebrates the unifying spirit of the run even if we can’t all be together.

HOKA ONE ONE Hoka is giving track and field athletes and run specialty shops a glimpse into the future with its fastest, most technical product for the oval. Hoka’s world-class athletes participating in the Olympics will be sporting the Cielo X MD and Cielo X LD, the brand’s all-new spikes designed for middle-distance and long-distance races, respectively. Both models feature a carbon fiber plate alongside Hoka’s signature Meta-Rocker technology as well as an ultra-light, ultra-breathable engineered mesh upper. Both spikes will hit the market next spring with an MSRP of $160. 10

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MIZUNO Mizuno is helping runners put their USA pride on full display with the 1776 Wave Rider and Patriot Pack. The upper on the red-white-and-blue colored 1776 Wave Rider features patriotic words and phrases like the USA motto “E Pluribus Unum” – Latin for “Out of many, one” – sublimated on the engineered mesh. The brand’s Patriot Pack, meanwhile, includes tanks, tees, tights and shorts carrying red, white and blue color schemes and, in many cases, bold USA word marks to leave no doubt about who one is rooting for this summer. The 1776 Wave Rider and Patriot Pack gear are currently available in run specialty shops across the U.S.

NEW BALANCE New Balance invested heavily in its “We Got Now” campaign that includes newly crowned women’s 400-meter hurdles world record holder Sydney McLaughlin. The full spot, featuring the New Jersey-bred McLaughlin alongside other athletic luminaries, will be running widely across NBC and other major networks through early August. While McLaughlin headlines the campaign from a running perspective, many New Balancesponsored athletes epitomize the “We Got Now” ethos and the importance of claiming the moment, including Tokyo-bound U.S. Olympic Trials champions Trayvon Bromell (100 meters), Gabby Thomas (200 meters), Elle Purrier St. Pierre (1500 meters), Emma Coburn (3000-meter steeplechase) and Emily Sisson (10,000 meters).

NIKE Watch the marathon races in Tokyo and it’s likely you’ll catch quite a few fast-moving feet sporting Nike’s Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% Flyknit. The race-day footwear features Nike’s responsive and lightweight ZoomX foam, a pair of slim Zoom Air units in the forefoot and a full-length carbon fiber plate to propel daring efforts on the road. A special edition colorway with red and pink accents and a bold black Swoosh is designed to be, according to Nike, “a celebration of sport, humanity and our ability to push through the toughest of challenges” as athletes emerge from the trying times of the past year to compete on the world’s grandest stage this summer.

REEBOK No athlete reaches the highest levels of their sport alone. For Olympic-hopeful athletes such as Canadian 5K runner Justyn Knight and Amy-Eloise Markovc, a 5K runner from Great Britain, their participation with the Reebok Boston Track Club provides them a path to accomplish their dreams. “This isn’t a Reebok-moment, this is our athlete’s moment, and we want to ensure they feel the Reebok support and community behind them,” says Reebok global marketing director Kristen Fortin. “Our major goal is to provide them with the best training tools possible – from apparel to footwear – and to also provide them with support from the entire Reebok community so that they can shine on the global stage and inspire others.” 11

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STAYING CLEAN In an Olympic summer and beyond, the Clean Sport Collective pushes for drug-free sports. / By Daniel P. Smith

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n the running world, doping remains a persistent, well-documented and headline-grabbing problem. The challenge becomes even more prominent in an Olympics year as the sport takes its quadrennial day in the sun. Since the International Association of Athletics Federations launched the Athletics Integrity Unit in April, 2017 to oversee drug testing and investigations, 196 athletes, including 66 Olympic and world medalists, had been issued a doping ban as of January, 2021. An upstart Colorado-based organization aims to change that reality and make clean sport the accepted norm. Again, its efforts become even more apparent as the world turns its attention to Tokyo later this month. Through awareness and industry advocacy, the Clean Sport Collective (CSC) is inviting stakeholders from across the running community into its orbit and working to shift the narrative from those caught using performance-enhancing drugs to elevating those who commit to clean sport. “By celebrating people with integrity and honesty, we hope to rebuild hope and faith in the sport,” says Shanna Burnette, a former agent and University of Colorado harrier who launched the CSC five years ago with her husband, Kevin Burnette. Taking a Stand for Clean Sport Public pledges for professional athletes, brands, healthcare providers, coaches, amateur athletes, events, agents and even fans are central to the CSC’s vision for a more pure and honorable sport. In signing the organization’s clean sport pledge, pro athletes agree to avoid performance-enhancing drugs, advocate for clean sport and donate 12

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World champion steeplechaser Emma Coburn is among many elite runners who have signed the Clean Sport Collective pledge, promising to avoid performance-enhancing drugs and advocate for clean sport.

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Staying Clean (continued) magnitude of this issue and how our system was not only rewarding dopers, but also penalizing clean athletes,” Rutherford says.

Understanding the unfortunate presence of performance-enhancing drugs at running’s highest levels, the Clean Sport Collective advocates for sport rooted in integrity and honesty and sans performance-enhancing drugs.

$25,000 to a CSC charity for any positive test. Other pledges call for a personal commitment to clean sport and support of a clean sport ecosystem. “Together, we want to uphold the integrity of the sport and support those doing things the right way,” Burnette says. Professional athletes who have signed the pledge include cyclists, triathletes and runners such as Olympic medalists Jenny Simpson and Emma Coburn. “It’s a great way to tell the world what my stance is, that these are my morals and what I promise to sport,” says Coburn, adding that elite athletes play an important role in being vocal and genuine about clean sport. “As athletes, we are the sport 14

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and the ones collectively deciding what the sport is doing. We don’t want a culture of acceptance regarding doping and it’s vital we get loud and say we’re not going to tolerate it.” As critical as the athletes’ involvement is, Burnette says the involvement of brands is equally, if not more, vital to driving clean sport. Given the sponsorship money brands dish out, their pledge to eschew sponsoring athletes who have tested positive for performanceenhancing drugs and to insist on clean performance from those on their current roster can have far-reaching impact. Brooks, Nuun, Saucony, Altra, The North Face, Rabbit and GU Energy are among more than 40

CSC brand partners. “If brands don’t step up and doping is kept under the radar, then it will continue,” Nuun president and CEO Kevin Rutherford says. “If we can be active in taking a stand with our sponsorship dollars, then we can be a force for good and spark real change.” Admittedly, Rutherford didn’t fully understand the correlation between doping and brand sponsorship until Kara Goucher, a Nuun-sponsored athlete and early CSC member, told him how clean athletes were losing podium opportunities as well as potential income to doping athletes. “Until my conversations with Kara, I didn’t realize the

Clean Sport Advocates Beyond its various pledges, the CSC has also focuses its efforts on driving awareness and education. Its popular podcast, launched two years ago with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart as its first guest, includes first-hand accounts from athletes and highlights the intricacies of doping in sport. The podcast has featured decorated athletes such as Allyson Felix, Frank Shorter and Shalane Flanagan as well as brand leaders, sports scientists and coaches like Kevin Hanson of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Cyclists and convicted dopers Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, meanwhile, openly recounted their experiences with doping as well as the still-lingering impact of those choices. “Through the podcast, we’re giving human stories to this important issue and educating people in a compelling way,” Burnette says. In the coming years, Burnette hopes to expand CSC’s efforts to include youth education at schools and camps, specifically identifying the benefits of clean sport rather than anti-doping messages. The organization also aims to create a clean sport certification for brands, which Burnette describes as an “annual process with checks and balances” against the pledge brand members currently take. “We have more work to do,” Burnette admits, “but we feel we’re on the right path to promoting and helping to create a cleaner sport.” n © 2021 Diversified Communications


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In this Olympic and Paralympic year, run retailers can support runners with disabilities. / By Allison Torres Burtka

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n 2018, the U.S. Olympic Committee ra ised t he f undi ng t hat goes to Paralympic medalists so that they now equal the payments Olympic medalists receive. In 2019, that committee officially became the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, bringing Paralympians further into the fold. These and other changes in the last couple of years have signaled a shift toward greater inclusion for athletes with disabilities. Examples of the world of running 16

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embracing runners with disabilities abound: • Toyota announced in May that it would offer sponsorship opportunities to every athlete named to the U.S. Paralympic Team. • In 2019, the USA Paratriathlon National Championships provided a professional prize purse for the first time. • In October, the Boston Marathon will become the first of the World Majors to have a separate competitive para athletics division for ambulatory para athletes. Wheelchair racers have had a designated

division for years that recognizes their achievements, but other para athletes, such as amputees who run with prostheses, have not. Sometimes, this has meant elite para athletes have broken world records but have gone unnoticed in the crowd. The Retail Opportunity Running retailers are equipped to help support runners with disabilities, from fitting them with shoes to sponsoring nonprofits and events that help athletes with

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Photo: Amputee Blade Runners

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Para-Opportunities (continued)

Achilles athletes and guides run in races around the world. Achilles trains guides to run with visually impaired athletes.

disabilities access the sport of running. Nicole Ver Kuilen is a runner who had her left leg amputated when she was 10. She completed her own 1500 mile “triathlon” along the West Coast on a prosthetic leg that was not made for running. In 2019, after she received a running blade, she won her division of the USA Pa ratriathlon National Championships. Then she founded the non-profit organization Forrest Stump to promote equitable access to physical activity for people with disabilities — a few running stores have partnered with her to promote Forrest Stump’s events and hold local runs. One of them is Ann Arbor Running Company. “Running stores should use their resources to help others do good things,” explains AARC owner Nicholas Stanko. The Cost Factor For amputees, the cost of a running blade, which can range from $15,000 to $25,000, is prohibitive. Most health insurers cover a walking leg, but not a running blade because it is deemed not medically necessary. Non-profit organizations have been working to fill this gap and provide running blades for people who need them, including Amputee Blade Runners, the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the Range of Motion Project. Amputee Blade Runners, based in Nashville, TN, works with amputees in about 40 states, but all of the amputees go to Nashville to receive care. While they’re in town, Fleet Feet Nashville fits them with shoes and provides them for free and the company also

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Para-Opportunities (continued)

Achilles programs include Freedom Team, for injured military personnel and veterans (above), and kids’ running programs.

supports the organization’s events. Doing so is good for the stores’ staff, says Christi Beth Adams, owner of Fleet Feet Nashville. “We’re just trying to educate our staff and expose them to the needs of different runners,” she says. “I would love it if many running stores did similar things. I definitely think that what we do with Fleet Feet is scalable,” says Joshua Southards, executive director of Amputee Blade Runners. That way, runners who live elsewhere could get plugged into their local running community and get support through local retailers. Amputee Blade Runners has a national Run Your City campaign that gets businesses, run groups and others to host runs 20

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in their city and raise money and awareness. Some running stores have organized these local runs. Fleet Feet Nashville also supports its community partners, including Amputee Blade Runners and Achilles, by selling its own line of graphic tees, called the Community Collection, and giving the community organizations all the proceeds.

perceive themselves, and how they relate to others is incredibly important,” Southards says. One year, Fleet Feet Nashville received a grant from Saucony to buy someone a running blade — they selected a local fourthgrade girl. “I still remember

reading her handwritten letter explaining how, when she’s running and playing at school on the playground, her normal prosthetic holds her back. She said she has to stop and take it off and dump the mulch out of it and put it back on,” Adams recalls. Achilles International serves people with a range of disabilities in 25 countries through athletic programs and social connection. It runs training programs, hosts events and provides support, such as guides for visually impaired athletes. It also gives its athletes the opportunity to participate in races and training, as well as to experience the fellowship of other athletes, says Amy Harris, executive director of Achilles Nashville. Fleet Feet Nashville also supports Achilles Nashville, through sponsoring races and providing discounts for all of their athletes, which makes running gear more accessible to them, says Harris, who also would like to see more running stores’ training groups work with Achilles athletes, so they can receive support from groups in their community. Running retail owners and staff might also consider serving

Filling A Need The refusal of insurers to cover running blades because they’re not considered “medically necessary” creates a dire need. “I think that’s particularly short-sighted as it relates to children, because the importance of children to be active as it relates to their social life, how they

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Achilles athletes and guides participate in the organization’s Hope and Possibility races.

as guides for runners with vision impairment. This would allow these athletes to train with running groups outside of Achilles. “Anybody that’s willing can do that. It really doesn’t take that much training,” Harris says, and Achilles trains people to be guides. Aside from the obvious basic equipment such as wheelchairs and running blades, some athletes with disabilities need specific gear that running stores can provide. For example, Nike’s FlyEase shoe has an easy-entry system designed to help athletes of all abilities and ages perform better, and Harris says some of Achilles Nashville’s athletes with cerebral palsy have expressed interest in those shoes. Amputee Blade Runners partnered with the sock maker Swiftwick to create sweat-wicking prosthetic socks, which fit over the end of the amputated limb. Because the materials in the prosthesis do not breathe, many amputees have problems with sweat pooling and the prosthesis losing suction and coming off, Southards explains. Representation Matters Including runners with disabilities in running groups and events not only allows them to benefit from the experience, but also makes other runners more aware of athletes with different challenges. “My running experience is not everyone’s running experience,” Adams says. “The way I shop for shoes and clothing, and what training looks like for me — you just think that’s the way it is for everybody else, and it’s not.” Adams got involved with Amputee Blade Runners after

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Para-Opportunities (continued) she saw one of its athletes, a double amputee, running in a race. “Seeing that led to me wanting to educate myself and wanting to be more involved with that organization,” she says. “I want my eyes to be open to the needs of the community.” Achilles Nashville recently participated in its first in-person race and one of the 18-year-old athletes won his age group. Some athletes’ goal is to walk in these events, “but we do have a fair number of very competitive athletes that can run in the mainstream with anyone,” Harris says. And running stores can help highlight them. “It doesn’t take much to hang up a picture of an athlete in a hand cycle in your store,” she says. Fleet Feet uses its newsletter and social media to raise

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https://amputeebladerunners.com/ https://www.achillesinternational.org/ http://www.forreststump.org/ https://www.challengedathletes.org/ https://www.rompglobal.org/ awareness of athletes with disabilities. “Typically, if you can bring awareness to those groups, you’re probably bringing funds to those groups and you’re bringing volunteers to those groups,” Adams says. Many people may be unaware of the Paralympics, or they may think the Paralympics and the Special Olympics are the same thing, Southards says. When the Paralympic medal payouts

were raised to equal the Olympic medal payouts, he saw that as a recognition that “okay, these are elite athletes, and we should treat elite athletes the same way,” he says. Improving the representation of athletes with disabilities helps recognize them for their achievements and broadens other runners’ understanding. But representation might be even more important for kids

and adults with disabilities who don’t think running is a possibility for them until they see someone like them in action. Where To Start Running retailers often sponsor local running clubs, which do vital work. But athletes with disabilities “need a little bit of extra help to get to a level playing field,” Southards says. It’s a matter of how you give back to the community. “How can we support this community with more than just water and bananas at a 5K?” Adams says. “A place to start is recognizing that you do have the ability to do this. Be vocal about it with your employees, with your community and be curious. And then I think there would be no shortage of opportunities that would present themselves.” n

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Insight: Retail Technology 2021

TECH’S TIME

Retail technology is ready to take run specialty to a new level as consumer shopping habits demand change. It has been said many times that the COVID-19 pandemic facilitated “change on steroids.” Anything that was happening in the world of run specialty retail grew exponentially as consumer shopping habits changed drastically. Some say five years of change took place in 15 months — you will find no argument from run retailers and their vendors on that. The wonder of it all is that all of these changes have been adapted by retailers who remained fluid and willing to try anything – anything – to keep the lights on. As one of the vendors profiled in the following pages points out, e-commerce, appointment scheduling, virtual fittings, local delivery, curbside pickup and free shipping became industry norms. Three of those six new norms are technology-driven. Run retailers owe a tip of the running cap to the technology companies that stepped up big time during those uncertain times. For them, the pandemic accelerated their product development by months and even years as demand for what they bring to the table skyrocketed. Inventory challenges and those changing consumer shopping habits have made them invaluable partners to independent retailers. Running Insight reached out the major tech vendors to run specialty to find out just how their product is benefitting independent retailers as the business slowly emerges from the COVID-mandated shutdown. Races are returning, customers are back in the stores and new product is (hopefully) being delivered. The technology examined in the following pages is here to help run specialty retailers get that product off of their shelves and into customers’ hands — and onto their feet.

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Insight: Retail Technology 2021

ALL POINT

Technology integrates all systems under one roof in ‘unified commerce” concept.

The Elevator Pitch … All Point Retail is a retail commerce/IT services firm that integrates retail systems, processes, workflows and management – from POS to inventory to analytics – under one roof, all managed by a dedicated All Point customer success team. By unleashing the potential of unified commerce for any retailer – and centered around one integrated IT platform and bolstered by its consulting, design, development, implementation and support services – All Point customizes solutions to help retailers address their IT challenges from “all points.” The Why … “Omnichannel has been a buzzword for close to a decade, yet few retailers have truly cracked the code on making it not just a fulfillment effort, but a 360-degree customer reality,” explains CEO Sean Quinn, who points out that in order to make it real, all systems must work together with one common, forward-facing vision for their customers. “All points of commerce must have the same look, feel and symbiotic experience, yet operate contextually for the touchpoint,” he adds. “When the pandemic hit, this became an imperative, so we set out to make it turnkey, allowing retailers to pivot elastically across all platforms.” Benefits To Retailers … All Point focuses on the retail vertical. It designs a retailer’s technology platform to be flexible enough to meet their needs now, but also grow as they grow. There are three main components of its business: • IT and Technology Support. This includes traditional network management, POS hardware, telephony, integrated video and in-store business intelligence. It is 26

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Fit2Run has had significant success using the All Point concept. See case history on page 28.

supported by the company’s own in-house team, seven days a week, during the typical 18-hour retail day. • Retail Business Process and Consulting. All Point has executives from all walks of retail that assist in the design and implementation of the software platforms, from standard Retail Management systems (POS/ OMS/CRM) to all other channels, including e-commerce, ERP, WMS, Mobile and Pop-ups. “We hold their hands through the migration from their old systems to one

unified platform,” Quinn explains. • Integration and Development. All Point has put together its own in-house U.S.-based development team to handle and support client integrations internally. “We believe this is the only way we can truly deliver an elastic integrated platform to our clients so that their customers can have a synchronized brand experience,” Quinn adds. The Pandemic Impact … “Those that were already on an integrated elastic platform

© 2021 Diversified Communications


thrived through the pandemic, as they were able to accommodate the explosive need for web and mobile, as well as curbside pickup, dropship and endless aisle, with very little heartburn,” says Quinn. “During the pandemic, these requirements were necessary to stay alive while stores were dark, so it was an imperative to pivot quickly.” But for those that weren’t ready with an integrated infrastructure, the pandemic cemented their need to get there, sparking them to pursue those areas that they were still waiting on, which is where a lot of run specialty retailers are now. “The customer expects a similar experience from their favorite retailer no matter where they engage with them and the pandemic made this abundantly clear,” he adds. “It’s a new imperative to support this.” Looking Forward … “Customers now want the convenience of web and mobile – along with the personalized engagement they expect everywhere – in the in-store experience,” says Quinn, pointing out that events and pop-ups are also here to stay. “It makes sense, as COVID forced the entire industry to service customers via entirely new retail formats, and many are now here to stay. It’s about meeting where they live, traverse and seek to shop at, which is no longer just the store.”

Top: The All Point model; Center, Real-time Availability; Bottom, Sales Analytics.

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Tech Advice for Run Retailers … Quinn advises retailers to not be hesitant because they think it’s expensive to change or that they’ve invested so much into their legacy systems that it’s better to bolt onto it or band aid their innovations. “Our business model eliminates both of these barriers to change with no upfront capex, making it easier to sell it through to the C-suite,” he says. “We’re a partner that can handle all aspects of this kind of transition and actually walk with a client regarding how to best use their technology,

© 2021 Diversified Communications


www.allpointretail.com often times at a cost equal to or less than they used to spend on systems that didn’t work.” The Future … All Point is evaluating retail technologies and designing next-level

technologies. It recently finished a 12-month project on a fully integrated video solution with POS where a client’s existing video system can now provide true real-time business analytics utilizing POS transactions

coupled with video metrics and analytics. It also provides an intuitive dashboard that a manager can analyze every morning. All Point has secured orders for more than 100 of these systems from its current client base just

in the first 90 days. The ROI is tied directly to their ATV and UPT and is a revenuegenerating force multiplier for retail clients, as well as a tool for catching fraud or improper procedures. n

ALL POINT CASE HISTORY

How Fit2Run Proved a New Commerce Model During a Pandemic VERY FEW RETAILERS CAME out of COVID on the upside, particularly small, localized specialty retail. But with the right platform and a Managed Ret a il S e r vi c e s pa r tn e r, Fit2Run made it happen. No one saw a pandemic coming, but Fit2Run kept pace with the constant set of new requirements it brought on, then ended up miles ahead by putting a new retail services model called Managed Retail Services to its litmus test. The idea of “unified commerce” is not new, but it’s been more buzzword than business imperative. Put simply, it commits to the customer experience as the top corporate imperative and uses one single commerce platform to deliver it consistently from all points. Every time a customer reaches out to the retailer from any place at any time, one central unified platform supports them. Further, it operates in real time and works fluidly, both offline and online. This means all data is streaming into one platform, making it easier to understand customers more intimately while also serving them personally, predictively and proactively. When COVID hit, Fit2Run was celebrating a series of notable wins regarding its physical store experience. Years of commitment towards 28

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innovation was paying off. What they had not focused on, however, was their e-commerce experience. Fit2Run did have an integrated e-com platform, but traction from its web efforts was slow. When the edict was handed down to close all stores, things changed in a matter of days. The Fit2Run website was hit with a 20-times influx of customer traffic and revenue, but since they had invested in a unified commerce platform with All Point Retail, they were ready. The platform that Fit2Run runs on integrates systems, processes, workflows and management – from POS to inventory to analytics – in an elastic manner, so it was seamless to add a few features and functions to support a wild

increase in online customer demand. Among the steps Fit2Run took: • Integrated the phone system, which allowed traffic to be immediately r o u te d f r o m s to r e s to e-com and have managers take orders with reduced staff but increased volume. • An integrated texting/ messaging platform was introduced into the ecosystem, which allowed for native Google integration for text communications with customers that answered customer questions, took order s and facilitated an immediate shift to curbside pick-up and delivery when the stores reopened with limited capacity. • User experience for the customer was the same highly personalized, industry knowledgeable interaction F2R customers were used to, but they were able to use whichever platform suited them at the time. • Existing EDI capabilities between F2R and many of their vendors allowed them to continue to fulfill the increased volume in a timely manner (even though stores and warehouses were closed) by leveraging direct ship from inventory reserved for them around the country by their vendor partners — again, all within the same integrated platform. n

© 2021 Diversified Communications


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Insight: Retail Technology 2021

CHANNEL SIGNAL

The new C2C Score gives consumers all the reviews they want in one place and helps brands and retailers know what’s selling.

The Elevator Pitch … Channel Signal, an aggregator of product reviews and analysis, features the Consumer2Consumer (C2C) Score, an independent and unbiased review score located at the buy button. By providing consumers with independent, accurate and unbiased guidance at the buy button, product reviews prove to increase conversion rates by 25 percent — equating to millions of dollars for online retailers. Channel Signal collects, cleans and validates thousands of reviews from all major sites, daily. “An accurate and reliable score at the buy button drives faster and more confident decisions with fewer clicks,” explains CEO Paul Kirwin, who points out that while other vendors syndicate reviews, Channel Signal ensures the reviews are accurate, relevant and ready to drive confident buying decisions. The Pandemic Impact … “As shoppers continue to flock to online retailers in the post-pandemic world, the way we shop is changing, too,” Kirwin says, adding that intuitive and user-friendly technology is intrinsically making people of all ages more sophisticated and less patient. “With a screen in the palm of their hands, 89 percent of digital buyers rely on product reviews to inform their decisions — either a tap of the Buy Button or cart abandonment.” How It Works … Channel Signal designed the Consumer2Consumer (C2C) Score to help run, outdoor and athleisure retailers boost their bottom lines and turn reviews into revenue. As a true picture of product performance – an aggregated score of real consumer feedback, including ratings and comments – the C2C Score is embedded on e-commerce sites, right beside the 30

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With a screen in the palm of their hands, 89 percent of digital buyers rely on reviews to inform their decisions.

Buy Button. As a customer gets ready to purchase, they get a clear, visual picture of the product’s rating — from green (Buy With Confidence) through yellow

(Mediocre) and red (Reconsider). “For buyers, this speeds the path to purchase immensely,” Kirwin explains. “They now have a trusted rating to rely on that

© 2021 Diversified Communications


www.channelsignal.com

Utilizing the Consumer2Consumer Score allows customers to be confident in their product selection.

channels millions of reviews from across the internet into a single, consistent metric.” Benefit to Brands … At the same time, brands get a comprehensive window into product performance. As a counterpart to the C2C Score, Channel Signal’s Brand Experience Platform aggregates customer reviews on a daily basis to deliver cleaned data that’s normalized down to the product title. Retailers get a view of top and bottom-performing products (and everything in between) to definitively understand consumer intent and adapt product performance, customer service, shipping times/rates, etc., as necessary. “By adopting technology, brands can transform operations with confidenceinspiring data and the full picture of product performance,” Kirwin says. 31

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The Why … “Consumers are tired of loungewear, Zoom calls, Netflix and a lack of face-to-face connection. And they want to move into the real world and a lifestyle that they might have neglected before the pandemic,” Kirwin continues. When they go to buy their running shoes and yoga mats they don’t want to have to plow through oceans of product reviews that amount to growing confusion. The Retail Benefit … Consumers want to research online, arrive at the Buy Button and have their decision reinforced — to quickly know that what they’re buying has been vetted by their peers and is a good option. This is where t he Con su m e r 2Con su m e r Score comes in by combining comments and star ratings from the most recent product reviews, collected from major

Consumers want to research online, arrive at the Buy Button and have their decision reinforced — to quickly know that what they’re buying has been vetted by their peers and is a good option. e-commerce sites, to deliver an accurate marketplace score. It leads to confident decisions and new freedoms. Advice to Retailers … Channel Signal, with a people-first approach to technology, has a goal to empower brands with knowledge and to help them turn reviews into revenue. “Adopting

more technology gives brands the opportunity to leverage data to truly understand people and their buying behavior,” Kirwin says. “With access to key metrics, your team can reach new customers and understand existing ones, get insights into the overall market and ultimately control how your brand is perceived, along with how to improve it and the customer experience.” The Future … With a greater focus on the quality and relevancy of reviews, Kirwin expects to see a much more personalized experience over the next few years: “With artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things and other emerging technologies, retailers have an opportunity to create a smoother path to purchase by knowing what the individual wants and when they want it.” n © 2021 Diversified Communications


Insight: Retail Technology 2021

FITTED, INC. Bringing together run retailers and brands in a network of available inventory is vital as shopping habits change. The Elevator Pitch … Fitted started off as a turnkey e-com solution providing automated product catalogs and first-ever endless aisle from the top brand partners. Between its more than 150 national retailers and 85-plus global brand partners, Fitted is

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the first-ever peer-to-peer-to-brand (P2P2B) solution that brings all running brands and retailers into a single ecosystem, allowing them to work together and meet consumers wherever they are based on whatever they are looking for.

How It Developed … “Being retailers ourselves, we spent countless hours and resources building and maintaining product catalogs and we realized that all retailers were doing the same work,” explains cofounder and CEO Monte Keleher. “On

© 2021 Diversified Communications


www.fittedretail.com top of that, we could only sell what we had in our brick-andmortar stores and problems would arise when e-com sales would take valuable in-store stock, especially going into a busy weekend.” Fitted’s aim is to ultimately predict where consumers will be and give the resources to its retailers to meet them before the consumers arrive. “By predicting where they go, we eventually determine where they go,” Keleher adds. “Fitted determines the future of retail.” The Challenge … Most retailers are constricted by stock space and cash, but Fitted’s endless inventory brings millions of pairs to retailer’s customers

wit hout ever ne e d i ng t he retailers to actually carry the product in their stock. “Though we started in e-com, we truly see ourselves as a universal network,” Keleher says. The Pandemic Impact … When COVID initially forced consumers to go online, retailers had to adapt in order to meet demand – to meet them where they were, whether online or curbside pickup. The pandemic has changed the way consumers access shopping, and retailers need to embrace new tech to meet their customers’ needs and expectations. Tech’s Role ... Supply chain disruption and shortages are here

for the foreseeable future and for retailers to survive they all need access to inventory at the drop of a hat. “Consumers prioritize convenience over anything and making sure that retailers can meet all their customers’ needs at any moment is crucial,” Keleher explains. The Fitted universal network guarantees that if a product exists in the country – whether at a brand’s warehouse or in the backroom of another retailer – its software gives retailers access that product. This maximizes retailers’ ability to not only retain their customers, both in-store and online, but it also guarantees sell-through. Advice for Retailers … “The

most important thing for retailers and brands to focus on is customer experience and retention,” says Keleher. “If you provide a world-class experience and meet the consumer’s needs and expectations, you change that person’s life and keep them as a customer forever.” Fitted wants to make sure that no matter where or how a customer chooses to shop with a run retailer, they can get what they want without needing to go anywhere else. The Future of Tech … “We are just in the beginning of revolutionizing retail and have a lot of wild things coming down the pipeline,” promises Keleher. n

FITTED CASE HISTORY

Dynamic Distribution Addresses the Challenge of Inventory Shortages AS PART OF THE ROLLOUT OF Dynamic Distribution, Fitted selected 16 of its top retail partners to beta test the program. Two of those retailers provide their initial feedback here. Running Center (three stores) “It’s an ever-increasing competitive market that we’re trying to stay relevant in. If an order comes in from a customer it needs to be sent out the same day,” says Susan Tyler, director of business development. “Over the last few months we’ve had the demand, but we didn’t have the product due to supply chain issues with most of our vendor partners. Dynamic Distribution came around at a perfect time to help solve this problem. We jumped on it immediately.” Naperville Running (four stores) “Dynamic Distribution has been great, especially during these COVID 33

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times when inventory is tough, to always make sure we’re able to make a sale and help our customers,” says Kyle Brady, director of retail/footwear buyer. “The first day we launched we had a long-time customer come in looking for his Black/White Peg 38s and we happened to be out. It was a cool feeling going to the product table and seeing there were 25-plus pairs we could pull from to ensure our customer was happy in store. “It also has been a great way to make a little extra money and increase our turn for our products in store,” he adds. “When the request comes through for a product we can see if it’s something we can part with

inventory- wise. If it is then we get a good bump that we wouldn’t have had before.” n

© 2021 Diversified Communications


Insight: Retail Technology 2021

LIGHTSPEED

Simplifying operations through technology allows retailers to focus on what they do best and leave the tech stuff to the experts.

The Elevator Pitch … Powering the businesses that are the backbone of the global economy, Lightspeed’s one-stop commerce platform helps merchants innovate to simplify, scale and deliver customer experiences. Its cloud commerce solution transforms and unifies online and physical operations, multichannel sales, expansion to new locations, global payments, financial solutions and integrated access to supplier networks. The Pandemic Impact … During lockdowns, the connectivity and visibility a cloud-based commerce platform provides became more critical than ever, points out GM-retail Mike DeSimone. “As the pandemic took hold, more and more people prioritized exercise and outside activities and business picked up for many running and bike merchants, but they could only meet this demand if they had a robust e-commerce and inventory management system in place,” he explains, adding that the pandemic has also helped fortify the “buy local” movement. “But consumers today expect to know what’s in store before they make the trip.” The Google Connection … This demand for knowledge is why Lightspeed partnered with Google this year to empower its retailers to sync their Lightspeed platforms with Google Local Inventory Ads, allowing consumers to see real-time inventory available from local merchants within their Google search. Lightspeed also introduced “Shop by Appointment” this year to provide retailers more flexibility to offer safe, socially distanced service to their customers. Consumer Demand … According to research from the Harvard Business Review, 73 34

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Lightspeed partnered with Google to empower retailers to sync platforms with Google Local Inventory Ads.

percent of customers prefer an omnichannel retail experience where they have the option to shop online or in-store. “We believe that the future of retail is a unified digital and physical shopping experience and we provide retailers the tools to build a flexible, reliable business online that can also grow or expand to a brick-and-mortar space that becomes a pillar of their community,” DeSimone says. Lightspeed is one of the only global retail commerce tools that empowers retailers to grow and scale their business however they see fit, online or in person. What’s Next … “We believe that the

convenience of curbside pickup, booking appointments to shop with an expert, contactless payments and online ordering are here to stay,” DeSimone says. “The more technology running retailers can bring into their business to automate the day-to-day operations of inventory, ordering and managing an online presence, the more time they can spend nurturing their customers, staff and communities.” Advice to Retailers … It’s not easy to start and run an independent business, but technology can take a lot of the challenges out of business management with integrated accounting, merchandising,

© 2021 Diversified Communications


www.lightspeedhq.com

Lightspeed is creating solutions that automate daily tasks around accounting, inventory and online advertising so retailers can focus on customer service.

inventory and ordering tools, points out DeSimone. “Most people start a business because they’re passionate about running or exercise, not about managing their digital marketing or updating their inventory,” he says. “Lightspeed is creating solutions that automate daily tasks around accounting, inventory and online advertising, so retailers can focus on simplifying, scaling and delivering exceptional customer experiences.” Additionally, offering contactless payment, curbside pick-up and online ordering also helps an independent retailer stay competitive in their local market.

The Future … Lightspeed recently entered into Ωagreements to acquire Ecwid and NuORDER, which will unify its commerce ecosystem for retailers through expanded and simplified e-commerce solutions and streamlined access to suppliers, respectively. Lightspeed is also continuing to expand its partnership with Google to offer additional integrations such as Smart Shopping Campaigns that will further streamline the online and instore shopping experience, as well as launching new tools this summer around tipping and subscription services for retail merchants. n

LIGHTSPEED CASE HISTORY

Sole Sports Finds Lightspeed Lightens the Inventory Load LANCE MUZSLAY, A TRIATHLETE and endurance runner, is the co-owner of Sole Sports, a running store with three stores in the Phoenix, AZ, area. After a career as a semiconductor engineer, the tragedy of September 11 motivated him to switch careers and open his first running store with a triathlon buddy. He later opened Sole Sports with a new partner in 2007. Two years ago, he made the upgrade from a legacy POS with an on-site server to Lightspeed’s cloud-based commerce platform. As a software developer, Muzslay had a long list of requirements for a new system — and Lightspeed was the only solution that fit the entire bill. “We searched for a long time and when I took a look at Lightspeed I realized this is what I was waiting for and I’m glad I didn’t jump the gun sooner because it was exactly what I wanted,” he says. “We’re very inventory intensive, we have hundreds

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of thousands of dollars of inventory across our three locations, and if that isn’t optimized we’re not going to be profitable.” If you don’t have a good commerce platform and a good inventory management system or ordering system, when you get into multiple locations it gets much more complicated, he points out. “But with Lightspeed, we have reports that tell us what inventory needs to go where. It keeps track of where everything is for me and the API can feed all the necessary data to external software.” Using Lightspeed has taken a load off of Muzslay and his responsibility for the technical side of the business. “With Lightspeed I can breathe easier, I have way less technical headaches,” he says. “Most people don’t have technical backgrounds or a desire to take on the technology side. It gets very complicated very fast. But a good cloud system like Lightspeed

can offload a lot of that, so I’m a big advocate. “We were already pretty advanced with our repor ting, but now with Lightspeed we can do that more powerfully and efficiently.” Muzslay frequently advises other retailers to use Lightspeed. “Lightspeed is a solid platform, it’s easy to use, it’s cost-effective, it just makes the operation of your store very smooth and easy,” he explains. “We want to make sure we have the right product on the shelf at all times so we can really serve our customers and Lightspeed is the right platform to maintain that data. It’s amazing and I love that it has a solid API that allows you to connect other software you may need. “It’s surprising how technical running a small retail shop is, I had no idea how complicated it would be,” he adds. “Having a good commerce platform is crucial.” n

© 2021 Diversified Communications


Insight: Retail Technology 2021

RUN FREE PROJECT Offering the complete view of e-commerce, from app to endless aisle to rewards, in conjunction with a POS system.

The Elevator Pitch … The Run Free Project provides run specialty retailers with their own, custom-branded mobile app paired with a fully automated e-commerce and endless aisle solution that marries seamlessly to their point-of-sale system. Its member stores’ customers can use their app to track mileage with Garmin or Strava, read up on the latest shop news and product releases, sign up for and check into events, and shop, all while earning rewards. Meanwhile, its web-based platform makes it easy for stores to customize and manage all of it in one place, in real-time, while providing a complete view of customer behavior with insights to inform decision-making. The Run Free Story … “We live and breathe by the same standards of excellence that the run specialty space is famous for,” says COO Rob Anderson. From apps to e-commerce, its platform’s development roadmap is driven by the ideas and feedback of retailers. “As the world adjusts to life on the tail end of a global pandemic, an infallible truth has become clear — consumers are demanding a better virtual experience from the brands they love and they’ll go elsewhere if they can’t get it from a run specialty retailer.” The Run Free Project is engineering the future of run specialty by providing its members an easy to use and powerful platform to ensure their virtual presence is as stellar as their customers’ experience in-store. The Technology … Mobile apps and purpose-built software leveraging integrations that sync orders and inventory with complex point-of-sale systems are difficult and expensive to develop. With creative crowdsourcing, a little software development 36

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A store’s customers can use their app to track mileage with Garmin or Strava, read up on the latest shop news and product releases, sign up for and check into events, and shop, all while earning rewards.

muscle and a lot of automation, Anderson and his team are able to offer a full suite of solutions for less than most stores are paying for e-commerce alone. The Pandemic Impact … The pandemic accelerated adoption of technology in the run retail space that would have otherwise taken years. “In the old world, retailers

might have dabbled in e-commerce, but it was unfamiliar territory and most put off taking the plunge until they couldn’t any longer,” Anderson says. “For many of our members, the pandemic unmoored any reluctance they had about tech adoption. It’s great to see. Not only has this experience been a gut check for everyone, but it’s also given us a glimpse into the future of

© 2021 Diversified Communications


www.runfreeproject.com customer engagement. The new normal will be defined by meeting demands for a healthy, active online presence from retailers that spans much more than just e-commerce and social media.” What’s Next … Anderson points out that it’s pretty clear that e-commerce and omni have gone from nice-to-have to table stakes as a result of the pandemic. “Our decision to develop a deep, bi-directional integration with all the major point-of-sale systems wasn’t just because it’s a massive competitive differentiator, it was born from the idea that running stores don’t have the bandwidth to enter orders twice, search for product images online or manually

adjust inventory in yet another piece of software,” he explains. “They need systems to do that for them so they can be out there selling product and engaging with the community in meaningful ways, so that’s what we built. And After That … But that’s just the table stakes, Anderson continues, and he feels the real future of run specialty tech is so much more than just e-commerce. As an example, Run Free’s platform gives any mom-and-pop shop the ability to provide customers with a custom app experience on iOS or Android. This makes the stores easier to engage with, giving them an elegant way to present their customers with

the opportunity to sign up for and check into their next 5K, or even to send a push notification after they’ve put 400 miles on their most recent pair of shoes. “End customers will expect their in-store and virtual experiences to mirror one another and we’re giving members a simple way to accomplish that without having a PhD in computer science or an overflowing bank account.”. Advice for Retailers … “Anyone can learn anything and it’s never too late,” Anderson says. “Technology is no more complex than anything else in life, it just uses a lot more acronyms. Find a good resource to help you get a foothold, bounce some ideas off of a few friends, and

you’ll be amazed at how quickly you learn and how easy it is to harness technology in new and super-cool ways. Just like training for a marathon, your knowledge and ability builds as you practice.” The Future … “We’re an agile organization, which means we constantly innovate on a cycle, usually once every two weeks,” Anderson says. “Our platform is homegrown, standalone and purpose-built for run specialty, so we aren’t beholden to any other vendors or underlying products that might hinder our ability to innovate. I have a feeling you’ll be seeing a lot more interesting stuff coming out of The Run Free Project soon.” n

THE RUN FREE PROJECT CASE HISTORY

Red Coyote Running Was An Early Adopter RED COYOTE RUNNING AND FITNESS was founded to actively promote a healthy lifestyle in Oklahoma City and its surrounding communities. They strive to create an unprecedented retail experience by providing excellent customer care, offering unmatched product knowledge and building strong relationships within their communit y. They’re locally owned and operated by Burke and Jon Beck. As power users, Red Coyote has been at the head of the line as early adopters of the Run Free Project’s innovations and their nationallyrecognized, locally revered brand, backed by a strong digital mastery, has become the gold standard for success in a digital-friendly run specialty industry future. “The team at Run Free is truly vested in our success,” says coowner Jon Beck. “They’re always 37

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evolving and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and they listen to our feedback. Their platform kept us

operating during the pandemic and it’s now an integral part of the Red Coyote experience.” n

© 2021 Diversified Communications


www.getopt.io

Insight: Retail Technology 2021

OPTIO

Developed by a run retailer to make inventory management a little simpler for other run retailers.

The Elevator Pitch … Optio is a suite of software that optimizes buying and distribution of inventory as well as enhances and fills feature gaps in point-of-sale systems. It was developed by Lance Muzslay, co-owner of Sole Sports Running Zone in Arizona, in order to make buying and inventory management much more efficient. In 2020 Muzslay packaged the software into a cloudbased service for other running stores. The Pandemic Impact … With inventory availability tighter than ever and business accelerating as more people have discovered running, having the right inventory in the right place at the right time is more important and more challenging than ever. “The right software is indispensable for meeting these challenges efficiently,” Muzslay says.

plus what is in stock at other stores that also use Optio, along with what is available from several key vendors. Being able to easily search all possible places to fulfill a request is very helpful. Optio also has tools for drafting and then revising future orders. The Inventory Challenge … Muzslay points out that inventory from vendors is projected to continue being tight for the foreseeable future and retailers will not be able to rely on at-once inventory as much as in the past.

Advice to Retailers … “Buying and managing inventory efficiently is extraordinarily challenging and typically riddled with laborious spreadsheets and too much human intuition based on incomplete information,” Muzslay explains. “Sophisticated, yet easyto-use, software is now available to small retailers that enables them to manage their inventory even more efficiently than large enterprises.” Good software gives back so much time that can then be spent on the long list of tasks that don’t get enough attention so “ultimately a business becomes more profitable and the morale of the entire team goes up because the friction goes down.” The Future … Optio is working on integrating inventory data from more vendors so that there will be no need to log into various B2B sites to check availability before taking a special order and formulating at-once orders. Automatic calculation of accessory stock levels based on a turn rate target and sales history will be a big time saver. n

The Features … A key feature in Optio is a comprehensive inventory search engine that allows retailers to see what inventory they have in stock across all their locations,

OPTIO CASE HISTORY

Run Away Shoes Runs Away From Inventory Counting OPTIMIZING THE DISTRIBUTION of inventory across a multi-location operation is enormously challenging and time consuming to do well. Before using Optio, Run Away Shoes, with three stores in Wisconsin, used to spend more than an hour every week with one person at each location on

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a conference call coordinating which inventory needed to move between locations in order to balance things out. It was a very laborious and timeconsuming process. Optio has a transfer report that calculates precisely what needs to be transferred between locations based

on real time inventory and predefined stock levels. Run Away Shoes is now able to achieve with a simple click of a button what used to take three employee hours. The result: Its inventory is more optimally distributed and the team has more time to focus on other tasks. n

© 2021 Diversified Communications


www.ricssoftware.com

Insight: Retail Technology 2021

RICS SOFTWARE Inventory management leads to better efficiencies and now RICS>Pay makes checkout easier.

The Elevator Pitch … RICS Software is a POS, inventory management and integrated payments platform specialized for footwear and apparel retailers. With its nearly four decades-long history, RICS serves small, medium, large and enterprise retailers with a platform that offers mobile and traditional point-of-sale; inventory management and reporting; and connectivity between retailers and brands through product catalogs, electronic ordering and inventory availability. RICS helps retailers improve profitability, save time, increase cash-flow and reduce costs. The Pandemic Impact … “For many run specialty retailers the pandemic magnified the need to reevaluate their digital strategy to include a higher priority for e-commerce

systems will continue to drive usage for the RICS integrated ecosystem, including product catalogs, electronic ordering and inventory availability, among others,” Keokuk says.

and contactless checkout,” points out Keith Keokuk, business development manager, and in many cases retailers found that they first needed to upgrade their retail technology systems to integrated, connected and mobile systems as a foundational first-step. What’s Next … The need for connected

Advice to Retailers … “Always to focus on strategy, process, people and then technology,” Keokuk says. “You’ve got to make sure you’re fitting technology into your strategy and processes. Adding new or more technology to broken processes or strategies rarely works.” The Future … At a high level, the major themes and trends RICS plans to deliver are more connectivity, greater flexibility, out-of-the-box integrations and less training required to get the most out of its technology. n

RICS CASE HISTORY

Palmetto Running Company Made the Switch to RICS CHRISTIA N F YFE , CO - OWNER , CFO and PLM for Palmetto Running Company, with two stores in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, has run his business with RICS since 2017. He knew of RICS from hearing retailer and vendor praises, but ultimately made the change due to the functionality and support team benefits. “We switched from QuickBooks POS to RICS for various reasons, including

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better reporting capabilities, brand/ product connections, e-commerce connections, QuickBooks data transfer link and a better POS/back-office interface,” Fyfe says. “The reports I’m able to run in RICS are by far my favorite feature.” In Januar y RICS introduced RICS>Pay, a credit card processing solution built directly into the RICS POS. Palmetto Running Company and

all RICS retailers using RICS>Pay are saving time and costs. “Since the day we switched, our checkout times are dramatically faster, we’ve had less card read errors and we’re saving on processing fees and getting our deposits faster,” says Fyfe. “RICS has certainly enabled me to work and buy more efficiently and smarter,” He adds. “Numbers don’t lie.” n

© 2021 Diversified Communications


Insight: Retail Technology 2021

UPPER QUADRANT Tracking every interaction provides insight into a runner’s buying habits.

The Elevator Pitch… The UQ Marketing Automation Platform helps retailers get more customers more often by creating prospect and customer funnels that track every interaction, from first website visit to online or in-store purchase. The UQ Marketing Automation Platform is the foundation for e-mail and paid social marketing. The Pandemic Impact … On March 13, 2020 retailers had walk-in customers who obtained fittings, discussed their race plans and tried on a few shoes. On March 15, retailers woke to a startling new reality. To survive, each of those customer touchpoints needed to be technologydriven, virtual interactions. “Suddenly, the online store went from back-burner priority to critical lifeline,” recalls managing director Scott Rakestraw. In addition, new, virtual customer approaches needed to be invented — often against headwinds of entrenched industry truisms and assumptions about customers. E-commerce, appointment scheduling, virtual fittings, local delivery, curbside pickup and free shipping became industry norms. Three of the six are technology-driven. Looking Ahead … Which of these trends will continue? “In short: All of them,” Rakestraw says, pointing out that retailers will need to keep and even build on omnichannel services. “What will change is emphasis,” he adds. Pre-COVID, people were skeptical to schedule a fitting. Now almost every retailer has a scheduling option. What’s Ahead for Technology … Eventually Rakestraw believes there will be a world where gift cards work online and in-store and where an online fitting using a phone’s camera will rival an in-store foot scan. “Technology is evolving to provide the in-store experience 40

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© 2021 Diversified Communications


www.upperquadrant.com online and consumers have changed, too,” he says. “As run specialty became better at virtual sales, so did all other buying channels. Now, consumers are better online customers for everyone — not just running stores.” The Need For Tech … In order to stay top-of-mind in a customer base with many options, running stores will need to create and curate customer funnels, which is the core need addressed by the UQ Marketing Automation Platform. The Platform gives stores the ability to track every step of a customer’s journey – from a website visit to an instore purchase. Advice to Retailers … “Retailers need to leverage marketing automation and technology to compete,” Rakestraw advises. “Embrace an omnichannel experience where your online shopping experience matches your in-store experience.” Technology is evolving and soon

The UQ Marketing Automation Platform gives stores the ability to track every step of a customer’s journey.

the online fitting experience will rival the in-store experience. “Embrace where the market is going now so you don’t get be left behind.”

The Future of Brand and Retail Technology … Upper Quadrant’s product vision for 2021 and into 2022 is to provide industry visibility and collaboration tools

for marketing and buying. It is releasing new products for run specialty this fall aligned to this vision that will help both retailers and brands. n

UPPER QUADRANT CASE HISTORY

Reaching and Converting New Runners in a Pandemic THE SEARCH FOR RUNNING SHOES reached an all-time high in May 2020, per Google trends. People stuck at home took up running. The big challenge was how retailers could identity and engage these new runners. Up p e r Q u a d r a nt c li e nt s tr a c k ever y customer interaction – instore, online and at races – with its customer data platform (CDP). This customer insight enables retailers to dial in marketing tactics and messaging based on where the customer is in their journey. To Identify a new runner is just 41

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a few clicks in the CDP to create a new customer segment: People who first purchased foot wear in the last 30 days, although users can choose 60 days or six months if they want to. Then, with the toggle of a switch, this new customer segment is synced with Facebook, whose algorithms create a “look-alike” audience of other likely-to-be-new-runners for retailers to target with paid digital marketing campaigns. Next, UQ targets New Customer Look-alikes with lead-gen digital ads

promoting virtual fittings and “Win Free Shoes” to engage this new runner audience. Using other digital ads, they gently steward new runners through a funnel, moving from awareness to conversion. As new runners are engaged, remarketing and email are leveraged to drive conversions. The lead generation campaigns work for new runners and help identify who is interested in shoes — retailers automatically capture the email address and can trigger an entire email series to drive conversion. n

© 2021 Diversified Communications


running shorts Brooks Unveils Plan to Achieve Net Zero Carbon Emissions By 2040; Ghost 14 To Lead The Way BROOKS RUNNING’S RECENTLY announced 2030 planet strategy, a science-backed approach that will take responsibility for the impact the brand has on the environment, kicks off with the July 1 debut of the Ghost 14, Brooks’ first carbon neutral product. While the brand’s sustainability efforts span more than a decade, this initiative will accelerate commitments, with a focus on climate action and sustainable consumption. “At Brooks, we think that climate change demands urgent and universal action,” says David Kemp, senior manager of corporate responsibility at Brooks Running. “Because more than 150 million people worldwide run outside, it’s critical that we take responsibility for our impact on the planet.” Brooks’ commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040 will be achieved by first reducing emissions in line with climate science, with Brooks’ Science Based Targets to reduce carbon emissions recently approved by the Science Based Target Initiative. Brooks has also developed a robust climate roadmap on how it will achieve these emissions reductions with several key strategies to decarbonize, including converting factories to renewable electricity, converting textile yarns to low-impact dyeing processes and sourcing materials with recycled content. Brooks will also purchase high-quality

Superfeet Acquired by Westward Partners Superfeet has agreed to a partnership with Westward Partners that gives the Seattle-based private equity firm majority ownership in the insole brand. Westward Partners exclusively invests in Northwest companies with strong

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carbon offsets to account for the residual emissions. The brand will make an immediate impact by offsetting emissions from its highest-volume style, the Ghost. The Ghost 14, launching July 1, is Brooks’ first carbon neutral product. In addition to reducing the product’s environmental impact by incorporating recycled materials, Brooks will purchase carbon offsets from projects that meet strict criteria for making a meaningful difference in addressing climate change. Brooks plans to reduce its usage of nonrenewable resources by incorporating more sustainable materials into products while

minimizing the waste associated within the manufacturing process. In 2022, the brand will launch a take-back program, which will lay the groundwork for a fully circular shoe in the years to come. By 2023, Brooks will move to 100 percent recycled polyester in footwear and new apparel materials and is committed to zero footwear manufacturing waste to landfill, incineration and to the environment by 2025. “We believe that the run can change everything: your day, your life and even the world. But to make those benefits available to all, we need to participate on a global scale,” Kemp adds.

performance records, clear vision and proven leadership teams. Westward and the Superfeet teams will leverage each other’s strengths to expand the availability of the Superfeet shape and personalization technology to more people via current and new

distribution channels. “This acquisition will set Superfeet up for accelerated growth and bring the brand closer to its mission of being the life-changing shape under every foot,” according to an announcement by the two companies

© 2021 Diversified Communications



running shorts Balega Puts Leadership Change in Place as Pictors Exit The Business PU T T I NG I N PLACE A SMOOT H leadership transition, Balega founders Tanya and Bert Pictor (in photo) have stepped away from the day-to-day business to make way for the next chapter of Balega under new leadership. Tanya and Bert have guided Balega since its inception in 2003. As part of the succession plan, Jenna Campbell has been tapped to lead the Performance Hosiery Category and the Balega brand as VP–category and brand development for Performance Hosiery, reporting to Ryan Cruthirds, chief global brand and category development executive. Campbell previously held leadership roles at Adidas and Merrell. Prior to

assuming her new VP role with Balega, Campbell served as a consultant with clients in various industries from healthcare

Fabletics Named Active Lifestyle Partner Of Tough Mudder Fabletics has been named the official active lifestyle partner of Tough Mudder. Craft Sportswear in April entered into a multi-year global partnership to become its “Official Performance Apparel and Footwear” of the series. Previously, Merrell was its footwear sponsor and Alanic was its apparel partner. As part of the partnership through 2022, Fabletics will offer its activewear to the more than six million members of the Tough Mudder community through retail pop-up shops, custom apparel and experiential offerings. The partnership comes as Fabletics expands into fitness. Early in 2021, the brand launched Fabletics FIT, an app with on-demand workouts and meditations. The brand also announced its plans to open 24 new stores in the U.S. in 2021 as part of its retail expansion strategy, many of which will feature its partnership with Hydrow, the at-home rower.

Hoffman To Succeed Krueger As Wolverine Worlwide CEO Wolverine World Wide has named Brendan Hoffman, currently company president and a member of WWW’s board of directors, to succeed Blake Krueger as CEO at the end of the year. Krueger, who has been CEO since 2007 and chairman of the board since 2009, will assume the newly created role of executive chairman of Wolverine Worldwide. Hof fman, 52, joined Wolverine Worldwide as president in September, 2020. He has had oversight of the company’s brands and DTC business, reporting directly to Krueger. Hof fman’s initial focus has been pursuing growth initiatives across Wolverine Worldwide’s brands and digital operations. Before joining Wolverine Worldwide, Hoffman was CEO of Vince Holding, a publicly-traded, global contemporary fashion brand. Under Krueger’s leadership as CEO, Wolverine Worldwide transformed

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and wellness, lifestyle, sporting goods, outdoor and private equity. Campbell brings more than 20 years of experience in brand building, business development, marketing strategy and operations to the Balega brand. “We are thrilled to welcome Jenna to the Balega family,” says Tanya Pictor, founder and VP of Balega Marketing. “Jenna is an outstanding addition to the new Balega leadership team, bringing immense experience in apparel and footwear.” Paul Perrone, who has worked with Balega for the past 14 years, will continue to lead the sales efforts for Balega in the Independent Channel as director of independent retail.

from a traditional footwear wholesaler to put together one of the world’s largest portfolios of footwear and lifestyle brands. He led the company’s acquisitions of the Merrell, Saucony, Sperry, Stride Rite, Keds and Chaco brands. Icebreaker Transparency Report Focuses on Plastic-Free Product In the four th installment of its annual Transparency Report, New Zealand-based natural performance apparel company Icebreaker has placed a major focus on its plasticfree initiative. A h i g h l i g h t i n t h i s ye a r ’s Transparency Report reveals that in 2021, 91 percent of Icebreaker’s total fiber composition is now Merino or plant-based, with 65 percent more styles (versus 2020) being made with 100 percent Merino or plant-based fibers. In 2021 alone, Icebreaker forecasts to sell over 1.3 million units of 100 percent Merino or plant-based apparel.

© 2021 Diversified Communications


running shorts Lines We Like ... Woolloomooloo, Zealios, TriggerPoint

WOOLLOOMOOLOO APRÈS-RUN SHOE … An interestingly named company called Woolloomooloo Shoe, founded by industry veterans James Rowley and Paul Robins, has launched a footwear line in to the independent run retail and comfort shoe store channels. Described as après-run shoes, they are digitally knitted from Australian Merino wool, making them washable, breathable, sustainable and comfortable. The company launched with two styles – the Belmont and the Suffolk – and a planned expansion for Spring 2022 will feature a shoe with a biodegradable EVA outsole. For more: www.woolloomoolooshoe.com

ZEALIOS LIPGUARD SPF 28 SUNSCREEN LIP BALM … New LipGuard SPF 28 Sunscreen Lip Balm, the latest product from Zealios, boasts a formula of active sun protectant ingredients, natural shea butter and oils to hydrate lips while providing serious sun protection. LipGuard offers a SPF rating of 28 as well as broad spectrum coverage to protect lips from both UVA and UVB rays. The balm is clear with a smooth consistency for even coverage. An easy squeeze tube with lip applicator makes for quick and mess-free application on-the-go. For more: teamzealios.com

TRIGGERPOINT COMPACT GRID TRAVEL FOAM ROLLER … TriggerPoint, the maker of recovery and massage products, has launched a travel-size Grid Travel for foam rolling on-the-go. A smaller, compact version of TriggerPoint’s original Grid Foam Roller, it offers all the same benefits to optimize mobility and enhance recovery. Like the Grid 1.0, the Grid Travel features a patented threedimensional pattern that simulates a massage therapist’s hands. The unique surface mirrors the pressure of fingertips, fingers and palm to promote the flow of blood and oxygen for optimal recovery. The durable foam surface delivers firm compression on tight muscles, knots and kinks for a total-body massage and the patented hollow core design retains shape after frequent use. It measures 10 inches in length and 4.4 inches in diameter, with an MSRP of $29.99.

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© 2021 Diversified Communications


running shorts Big Peach Running Expands Into Bike Business

BIG PEACH RUNNING COMPANY will soon be selling bikes at its Brookhaven location, which will now be known as Big Peach Ride + Run. The bike expansion only involves its Brookhaven store and all other locations will continue to be called Big Peach Running Co. The expansion is a joint venture between Big Peach and Bikes Plus, the largest and longest-running independent bike retailer in the Memphis, TN, area. Giant Bicycles USA, one of the world’s largest premium bicycle manufacturers, will support the expansion through its Retail Partner Program. The store will carry Giant, Liv and Momentum bikes. Liv Cycling is the only comprehensive cycling brand dedicated solely to women and Momentum features commuter and E-Bikes. The store will also carry a full

Hoka Adds to Leadership Team; Names FCB Global Creative AOR Two key leadership hires have been made by Hoka One One with the aim of deepening the brand’s expertise in crucial areas and continue to brand’s growth trajectory. • Norma Delaney has been named VP–global brand marketing after several years of collaborating with Hoka as a consultant. Previously, Delaney spent 11 years in marketing leadership roles at New Balance. Delaney also brings experience from other global brands, including Burton, Rockport, Sperry, Keds and W.L. Gore. • Erika Gabrielli has been appointed senior director, Hoka global integrated marketing, after nearly 10 years with Hoka parent company Deckers Brands, where she most recently served as senior director, global marketing at

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array of cycling products and accessories. “The mission of Big Peach is to ‘grow, support and enhance an active lifestyle in and around Atlanta’ and this initiative

with our friends from Bikes Plus and Giant USA will allow us to do that to an even greater degree than we do now,” explains Big Peach founder Mike Cosentino.

Teva. Gabrielli has also held marketing positions at Adidas, Yakima, Airwalk and Red Bull. She will be responsible for leading global marketing integration, as well as seasonal creative and product storytelling. • In another move, Hoka named FCB as its first-ever global creative agency of record. FCB West, the network’s creative boutique in San Francisco, will serve as the global lead office and will tap into FCB’s network of offices around the world. FCB will begin working with Hoka and its other agency partners immediately and expects the brand’s first global campaign to debut in 2022.

partner for Salomon hosiery for the U.S. The Salomon hosiery line will include premium socks in the trail running, running, ski, hiking and casual categories. The new sock line will be available in single pair, two- and three-pair packs in a variety of colors paired to the Salomon footwear and apparel lines, with shipments scheduled to begin July 1. The Salomon socks will use technologies for moisture management, precise fit, protection and grip to secure the users foot. All socks are manufactured utilizing sustainable manufacturing practices and 100 percent recycled material packages are utilized for all items. Salomon joins Thorlos and Experia as hosiery offerings from Trimfit Global. The brand will be supported by the Thorlos and Experia sales and customer support teams.

Trimfit Partners With Salomon Trimfit Global, a subsidiary of The Lamour Group of Montreal, Canada, has been named the exclusive distribution

© 2021 Diversified Communications

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running shorts Mizuno Wave Rider Shoe Unveiled In Time for Peachtree Road Race

IN THE LEAD UP TO THE IN-PERSON return of the 52nd running of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race, Mizuno has released the limited-edition Peachtree 52nd Wave Rider running shoe. This year’s safe and socially distanced Peachtree road race will take place over two days, July 3-4. In releasing the shoe, Mizuno also unveiled partnerships with Atlanta-based nonprofits, including the National Center for Civil and Humans Rights, Equality Foundation of Georgia and Shepherd Center. Mizuno will partner with these organizations and share personal stories of individuals from the BIPOC, LGBTQ and People with Disabilities communities to further spread the message of equality and dignity for all. Retailing for $135, the shoe features several USA-themed elements as well as

Fleet Feet Names Jason Jabout COO

As it realigns the organization and formalizes its plan for growth centered around business development, brand awareness and customer retention, Fleet Feet has promoted Jason Jabaut 47

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eco-friendly materials and the brand’s ENERZY technology, which delivers softness and energy return. The design of the shoe features the Constitution as a backdrop and color and design elements

that represent the U.S. On the upper are the words “USA,” “1776” and “E Pluribus Unum” sublimated on the pattern of the engineered mesh. The stars and stripes are featured on the medial side of each foot.

to COO. Jabaut has been with the retailer since 2006 supporting the business in franchise development, vendor management and operations. He most recently served as VP–e-commerce, overseeing digital operations for its e-commerce platform. Jabaut will now over see retail operations for franchises and company-owned stores, purchasing and vendor management and digital and distribution center operations,

to take the guesswork and struggle out of finding vetted talent to represent a brand outdoors, while also helping make the outdoors more welcoming to all. Outsiders Network is currently accepting talent submissions at outsidersnetwork.com/pre-register/get-hired. The full platform will officially launch this summer. “We saw a growing need for vetted outdoor talent that truly represents the kind of people who play outside. So, we embarked on a mission to reinvent the image of people we see in marketing for the outdoors,” explains MJ Legault, co-founder of Outsiders Network. “We recognize this is a big task and so, at the onset of creating Outsiders Network we partnered with diversity, equity and inclusion professionals to help create a safe and inclusive space for talent.”

Looking For Talent: Try Outsiders Network Outsiders Network, a first-of-its-kind online talent marketplace, has been launched to make it easy for running brands and content producers to hire talent with specific outdoor activity skills, but who also represent a range of ethnicities, gender identities and adaptive abilities. The Network is designed

© 2021 Diversified Communications


One More Thing ...

Seven little-known facts about the Olympic Games. Opening Ceremony is Friday, July 23, 2021. 1. GOLD MEDALS ARE MOSTLY MADE OF SILVER. Gold medals haven’t been made of gold since the 1912 Olympics. Today’s Olympic Gold Medal is made almost entirely from silver, with approximately six grams of gold to meet the standard laid out in the Olympic Charter. By the way, in the ancient Olympics there was just one medal — gold for the winner. Winner take all, indeed.

2. ONLY THREE MODERN OLYMPIC GAMES HAVE BEEN CANCELLED. The games were cancelled due to World War I (1916) and World War II (1940, 1944). In the end, although the Tokyo Games (still known as the 2020 Olympic Games) were delayed a year, COVID ultimately didn’t have the same impact as those events. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will go on! 3. ONLY FIVE COUNTRIES HAVE BEEN REPRESENTED AT EVERY MODERN-ERA SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES. Greece, Great Britain, France, Switzerland and Australia. They’ll all be in Tokyo this summer. 4. THE SUMMER GAMES USED TO SPAN MONTHS. Think the two-and-a-half weeks this summer are too long? It’s nothing compared to the first Summer Olympics staged in London in 1908, which spanned 188 days, or more than half of the year. Not sure anyone would pay attention for that long in 2021. 5. THE FIRST OLYMPIAN TO FAIL A DRUG TEST WAS BUSTED FOR DRINKING BEER. Olympic drug testing debuted in 1968 and Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall was the first to test positive for a banned substance. His drug? Two beers he said he downed to “calm his nerves” before the pistol shoot. The disqualified Liljenwall and his teammates were forced to return their bronze medals. The moral of the story: Don’t drink and shoot! 6. ATHLETES IN THE ANCIENT OLYMPIC GAMES COMPETED IN THE NUDE. In fact, the word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek root “gymnos,” meaning nude — the literal translation of gymnasium is “school for naked exercise.” Thank goodness for Olympic apparel sponsors that clothing is now worn — where would they put the Nike swoosh? 7. THE LONGEST REMAINING OLYMPIC RECORD IS FROM A TRACK AND FIELD EVENT. Bob Beaman won the long jump in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. His superhuman leap registered a remarkable 8.90 meters (29.2 feet) to become an Olympic record, which to this day hasn’t been beaten. Don’t look for that to change this year in Tokyo.

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© 2021 Diversified Communications