Running Insight 7.15.19

Page 1


SANDALS WARM UP Running retailers are embracing the potential of a new category.

JULY 15, 2019

SANDALS RISING Lifestyle meets performance as a new category emerges for run a. / By Daniel P. Smith

The Spenco footbed provides medial, lateral and transverse arch support with a deep heel cup and medically designed metatarsal pad. On the cover: Founded in 2011, Massachusetts-based OOFOS has quickly become a leader in the sandal category and a prominent brand in the run specialty channel.

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2019 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published twice each month, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email.The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Divesified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500.



any years ago, Eddie Johnson, owner of the four-unit A Snail’s Pace running store chain, carried sandals in his Orange County, California, shops. “Adidas used to have a recovery sandal. Remember those?” Johnson asks whimsically. But Johnson’s foray into sandals was short lived and he ditched the category. Running shoes gave him enough to worry about, he reasoned. Ever the reflective owner, however, Johnson kept his eye on the category. In more recent years, he noticed the rise of compelling product and accelerating consumer interest. He also saw the potential of add-on sales and the ability to service customers, runners and non-runners alike, in need of footwear solutions. So, Johnson began restocking sandals at A Snail’s Pace, offering options from Hoka One, OOFOS, Spenco and Superfeet. Last year, A Snail’s Pace sold 750 pairs of sandals, a sliver of overall revenue, Johnson acknowledges, but a still-healthy addition to his bottom line. “Having the option for consumers to purchase something from us that’s beneficial to them is absolutely worth it, especially given the favorable margins and the flexibility of the companies given the growth of the category,” Johnson says. Small, But on the Rise Sandals have become a growing, albeit still small, piece of the run specialty pie in recent years – and not just for operators in warm-weather climates like Johnson. In the last 12 months ending March 2019, sandal sales in U.S. run specialty grew 6.5 percent, according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service. While some operators hesitate to stock sandals, feeling the category pulls them away from their focus on running footwear or delivers ultimately problematic seasonal product, others have invested in sandals, turning to brands like OOFOS, Spenco, Superfeet and others for favorable-margin product that can drive incremental sales and help shops service customers beyond their 30-60 minute daily run. And that’s important, Superfeet director of product and innovation Matt Gooch says, as consumers shift “to a broader sense of holistic wellness” and increasingly place a heightened focus on out-of-activity routines. “Active recovery [and] self-care has become a booming product category to support an active lifestyle,”


Mark Troy Leonard.................................. Christina Daemon Filson..................................


Managing Editor....... Michael Jacobsen:


© 2019 Diversified Communications

Sandals Rising (continued) U.S. increasingly investigate sandals as an addition to their inventory mix, here’s a look at how shops can gain ground in the growing category. No. 1: Encourage a Trial Savvy retailers are inviting customers to experience the product for themselves. Some stores like A Snail’s Pace invite customers to slide on sandals as they walk to the foot scanner or treadmill. Others like Fleet Feet Chicago encourage customers to try on sandals as staff venture to the stockroom to retrieve running shoes. “Give them the experience first and foremost and then leave the decision up to them,” Brown says. As a practical measure, Marisa Hird, who runs outreach, marketing and store merchandising at Naperville Running Company in suburban Chicago, suggests inviting a sandal trial early in the sit-and-fit footwear process. This, she says, allows customers to experience the feel and benefits of sandals before they’ve committed to a $120 pair of running shoes and balk at the additional investment.

It’s all about style and function for SOLE and its trendy line of sandals for all walks – and runs – of life.

Gooch says. While some sandal brands share a story built around plush cushioning and others tout support or their post-workout recovery credentials, OOFOS head of field marketing Darren Brown says the sandal category is “more purposeful” than ever before. “And that’s what’s driving the 4

category’s growth,” Brown says. “Sandals are not just something to let the foot breathe, but are helping people fight back against common injuries.” Knee pain, heel pain, plantar fasciitis and various other ailments befalling the American public can be addressed with a supportive sandal constructed with many of the same concepts

present in performance running shoes, Spenco Footwear national sales manager Len Chatwin contends. “Putting supportive sandals by the bed and avoiding going barefoot may seem simple, but doing it consistently can keep people on the road or trails,” Chatwin says. As running shops across the

No. 2: Leverage Options Running store employees don’t bring out one shoe and say, “Do you like it?” Rather, they bring out an assortment of options and ask questions to gather a deeper understanding of what’s resonating with the customer to propel the sale. So it can be with sandals as well. Having customers try on different options against one another – something more supportive against something more plush, for instance – and asking them which one they like more and which qualities impress is © 2019 Diversified Communications

Xinglet Optic BeamTM USB Visibility Vest



New LED, Visibility and Race & Training Gear Line-Up!

• New USB Fiber Optic Vests • High-Powered USB Lights • Safe-Strobe™ Light Bins • Vizlet™ LED Reflectors • New Reflective Gear • New ArmPod™ Phone Carriers • New Race & Training Essentials Contact your Amphipod Rep or Customer Service for fall/winter/holiday programs, and book now!



Sandals Rising (continued)

Photo: SOLE

a path that “generally leads to more sales,” Superfeet VP–U.S. sales Mike Houser says. No. 3: Listen for Cues “Many of the customers at run specialty are looking for healthier options when getting fitted for walking or running gear,” Spenco’s Chatwin reminds, which is precisely why staff should be listening intently to customers and prepared to present sandals


as a helpful aide. Fleet Feet Chicago floor manager Johanna Iwanicki identifies opportunities to introduce sandals as a thoughtful solution, such as when a customer is suffering from plantar fasciitis or could benefit from wearing a supportive sandal at home rather than walking around barefoot. The same goes for Hird at Naperville Running, where she asks ailment-battling customers

what they’re wearing when they’re not in their running shoes. “Just like we’d introduce a roller, insert or brace, the sandals are also in the mix as a recovery tool,” she says. No. 4: Make Sandals Visible At the Naperville Running Company, sandals sit front and center, especially during the warmer months. “Every customer pretty much

walks right by them as they’re trying shoes on,” Hird says. Rather than having a sandal sample on the shoe wall and product in backstock, as it did in the past, Fleet Feet Chicago now displays sandals on its showroom floor. “Sa nda ls a re now more impulsive in regards to the customer shopping habit and can be shopped casually instead of feeling that they need to go

© 2019 Diversified Communications

Sandals Rising (continued) through a fit process,” Fleet Feet Chicago director of merchandise Catherine Moloznik says.

Superfeet injects decades of insights from the development of its popular insoles into the production of its sandals.

No. 5: Manage Inventory Wisely Understandably, retailers might be hesitant to bring in more than one or two sandal SKUs – or even any sandals at all – given the challenges of inventory control. Carrying a new category, after all, represents an investment of money, time and space. Johnson has been ultra-intentional about taking feedback on sandals from staff and customers and digging into sales data at A Snail’s Pace, especially as sandal brands release more styles and colors. “Just like footwear, you need to carefully pick and choose,” he says. n

Available Now!

recover better™ anywhere RM Extreme™ Mini

Extreme Deep Tissue Massage On-The-Go


© 2019 Diversified Communications

Stand Up and Ride

ElliptiGO takes run-centric stand-up bikes off-road. / By Brian Metzler


or years, when Bryce Whiting was asked what was the latest, greatest thing in running, he would always say, “Stand-up biking, of course.” ElliptiGO, a Solana Beach, CA, company, launched the first stand-up bicycle in 2010. Those first stand-up bikes were essentially rolling elliptical machine on wheels — with gears and brakes but no seat. The company made a strong pitch to runners because of the way the human-powered contraptions mimicked the motions of running mechanics without the harsh impacts of continual footstrikes, says Whiting, the company’s VP–marketing and sales. Quirky as its products might look, the company got off to a pretty good start, growing to six models, selling more than 26,000 units and expanding its dealer base to 180 running, bike and outdoor shops over the past nine years. While it created an entirely new niche in fitness, stand-up biking’s early success was tied to the notion that it combined the best aspects of cycling, running and gym training in a form of low-impact exercise that builds cardiovascular fitness. 10

This spring, ElliptiGO is taking its newfangled fitness machines off-road with the release of its Mountain Stand Up Bike (MSUB). While it looks and is built like a performance-oriented mountain bike with no seat – and essentially it is – it offers more of a full-body workout than mountain biking, burns 33 percent more calories than cycling, mimics the motions of running and offers a parallel experience to trail running. The MSUB has 27.5-inch wheels, knobby tires, disc brakes, a front suspension shock with 100mm of travel and a 10-speed derailleur, but Whiting admits the componentry is modest to keep the price down and to not overcomplicate it for consumers with non-technical backgrounds. The MSUB has custom pedal crank arms that are easier on the knees than a traditional bike, he says. The MSUB retails for $1499, so it’s not an easy sell to recreational runners. But Whiting says committed trail runners are a big target. “We’re not necessarily catering to hobby jogger runners, but committed trail runners,” he says. “A lot of trail runners have

mountain bikes because they like to mix it up and they like exploring out on the trails. There’s a small niche in a small community, but it exists.” Numerous high-profile trail runners have tried out the MSUB with positive reactions, including Anita Ortiz, Dean Karnazes and Zach Miller. Miller, a pro runner sponsored by The North Face, has been riding one on the high-altitude trails on Pikes Peak to supplement his training for ultra-distance running races. Several other elite trail runners, Addie Bracy, Corey Connor and Jason Schlarb among them, have been using other versions of ElliptiGO bikes for years. Peter Maksimow, the outreach and partnership specialist for the American Trail Running Association has been riding an MSUB on trails around Colorado Springs while recovering from injuries that limit his running. “It’s really fun,” Maksimow says. “I went on a gnarly ride in Red Rocks Open Space and I kept up with the mountain bikers. It handles the trails really well.” ElliptiGO launched a more general fitness, pavement-oriented Stand Up Bike ($799) last winter and has experienced greater-thanexpected sales, Whiting says. It will also be launching an indoor training accessory so users can bring their bikes indoors. Whiting believes huge growth in alternative fitness products and experiences related to running and cycling – including Peloton, Strava and Zwift – suggests more growth for stand-up biking. “We’re still creating this category by ourselves, so it’s not easy,” Whiting says. “But we have a pretty fanatical community. There is too much positive traction to make us not think it’s still a great opportunity. We’ve only started to tap into the general fitness enthusiasts and health-conscious consumers who might or might not by a cyclist or a runner but still want an efficient workout in a fun, comfortable way.” n

© 2019 Diversified Communications

an Duran, Bloom County, Max Headroom, Alf, I Want My MTV, Sting, Maniac, Alan risette, Cabbage Patch Kids, Dungeons and Dragons, Madonna, Growing Pains, Ba heEMBRACE Future, Culture Club, Cheers, PacMan, Atari, Ghostbusters, Video Killed the Rad THE PRESSURE r, Bob Ross, Roger Rabbit, BetaMax Movies, Who Shot JR, Sally Ride, Down And Ou Beverly Hills, CNN, Rubik's Cube, The Brat Pack, Fraggle Rock, Whitney Houston ese's Pieces, Top Gun, Air Jordans, Live Aid, Flock Of Seagulls, Jane Fonda Workou ke and Laura, Cats, Moonlighting, K.I.T.T., My Little Pony, Macintosh, Tear Down Th all, Purple Rain, Golden Girls, Thriller, Raiders of the Lost Ark, New Coke, Game Boy tloose, Knight Rider, Floppy Disks, Dynasty, Weird Al, VCRs, Dr. Ruth, The Jefferson ters of the Universe, The Big Chill, Duran Duran, Boom Boxes, Gremlins, Where’s T f, Barney Miller, Cyndi Lauper, Cell Phones, The Goonies, McNuggets, Donkey Kon te Davis Eyes, Police Academy, Baby Jessica, A-Ha, Smurfs, Trivial Pursuit, Hand THE CEP 80’S COMPRESSION SOCKS. ossINTRODUCING America, Gnarly, Microsoft Windows, DeLorean, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle 25 Gas, The BACK California Grapes, Of The Jedi, THEN Emoticons, Pee-Wee Herman TO THE Return FUTURE AND SOME. idas, Megatron, Care Bears, E.T., The Internet, Scrunchies, Bosom Buddies, Mill anilli, The Miracle On Ice, Cable TV, Pretty In Pink, Superbowl Shuffle, Walkman, u’ve Got Mail, Bill And Ted, Like A Virgin, Compact Disks, The Mullet, Video Arcade Man, Doogie Howser, Nightline, Margret Thatcher, Swatch Watches, Billie Jean, Je ans, The BeDazzler, 867-5309, Thirtysomething, Debbie Gibson, The Police, Ordinar shdance, 21 Jump Street, Run DMC, Late Night With David Letterman, Square Peg g Me With A Spoon, Charles And Di, Bodacious, Nintendo, Red Dragon, Ronald Rea all Street, The Facts of Life, Slimer, The Huxtables, Motown’s 25th Anniver Les Miz per Mario Brothers, Valley Girl, Cumputer Modems, The Dukes Of Hazzard, The Wa m And Tammy Faye, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Bloom County, The Sweathogs, Le cocca, Dangermouse, Mets Win The World Series, Punky Brewster, Parachute Pants -Jays, Rock Me Amadeus, Goodbye, Farewell and Amen, Falcon Crest, Break Danc cot, Platoon, MacGyver, Vanessa WIlliams, Taxi, Bladerunner, We Are The World e-Hulk, The Wonder Years, Billy Idol, Splash, Inspector Gadget, Dirty Dancing, St ewhere, Must-See TV, Pictionary, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Hulk Hogan, Bo Kno urder She Wrote, Rain Man, Totally Awesome, Pat Benetar, Walk Like An Egyption Eighties stripes combined with advanced CEP compression. More oxygen to your muscles. Better energy, endurance, recovery. Embrace the Eighties. Embrace the pressure.


Available in 3 totally awesome colors

Labor Pains

How can retailers address one of their biggest quandaries: finding and keeping staff? / By Daniel P. Smith


inding good employees. Hiring those employees. Keeping those employees. Those are the three biggest challenges retailers face in running their businesses in 2019. Nothing new there, but the way to solve these challenges has certainly changed with the times — and the employees. Among the many run specialty retailers who attended The Running Event 2018 in Austin, TX, many identified labor as the single biggest challenge confronting their operation. Jeff Anderson of Kelley’s Pace in Mystic, CT, reported losing four staff members in August alone. He was considering more full-time employment to boost staff retention


and eager to show specialty retail as a viable career, not simply a temporary side hustle. Outside of Boston, Whirlaway Sports Center was actively seeking to bolster staff engagement through special events. From guiding the store’s Captains’ Night to preparing for the annual Whirlaway Tent Sale, general manager Maggi Murray says special events allow Whirlaway staff to experience different environments and tackle new responsibilities, giving them an important jolt of energy and a greater sense of involvement. Here today, more than a half-year later, labor remains a pressing concern. “At Kelley’s Pace, we seem to be always looking for someone … [and] I am always looking for that perfect fit,” Anderson says. “I find myself investing more in training,

figuring out which deficiencies I can change via training [and] what attributes make up for other deficiencies.” In a high-touch, customer-centric environment like run specialty, one that earns its keep by insisting on involved, genuine interactions with customers, personable, capable staff are critical drivers of store performance. According to a recent consumer survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers, two-thirds of consumers say good customer service encourages them to stay longer and/or spend more money at a store. Yet running stores across the country continually struggle to find and retain capable staff, a concerning problem as run shops push to be more engaging and experiential

© 2018 Diversified Communications

, RockTapeTM is the world's best kinesiology tape hier designed to be stronger, stickier and stretc TM than the competition. RockTape is trusted by . thousands of medical professionals worldwide Learn more at


Labor Pains (continued) “We seem to be always looking for someone … [and] I am always looking for that perfect fit. I find myself investing more in training, figuring out which deficiencies I can change via training [and] what attributes make up for other deficiencies.” JEFF ANDERSON, KELLEY’S PACE

spaces. This struggle, many say, poses a threat to their business and has fueled an intensifying appetite for solutions. Finding Solutions, Wherever Truth be told, running retailers aren’t the only ones facing labor woes. From restaurants to the trades to white-collar jobs in fields like insurance or finance, employers across the American landscape are longing for skilled 14

workers at a time when national unemployment sits at a 49-year low. That reality has ignited a range of creative and aggressive initiatives designed to recruit and retain talent while also compelling business leaders to more critically assess what attracts and keeps high-quality people on board. Running Insight investigated how businesses, including those beyond the retail world, are hiring and retaining staff as well

as noteworthy data on battling the labor conundrum. Creative Recruiting Strategies While businesses aren’t necessarily throwing out the traditional recruiting playbook, they are most certainly embracing novel ways to talk about their companies to prospective employees. Last year, for instance, Taco Bell trialed “hiring parties” in Indianapolis, pairing free food

and swag with on-the-spot job interviews. Over two days at four different restaurants, Taco Bell ended up with 40 new hires. The success of those events prompted Taco Bell to host nearly 600 parties across the country this past April. Others are mining oft-overlooked candidates, including retirees. Major restaurant chains like Bakers Square and Village Inn, for instance, have paid job listings on the AARP website,

while McDonald’s has targeted seniors as well. While running shops have long turned to their customer base, running clubs and local college programs for prospective employees, it’s increasingly evident that store leaders will have to investigate alternative methods to attract candidates and stand out with employees, especially as the labor shortage shows no signs of slowing.

Highlight Mission and Culture Running stores do something immensely valuable: They help people lead healthier, more active lives. That’s a noble purpose many can get behind and something retailers would be wise to note regularly, both when interviewing prospects as well as in communications with current staff members. Deliver a formal training program, but ditch the formalities According to the Sitel Group’s recent “Future of Work and Employee Learning” report, 79 percent of employees seeking a job say it’s important that an employer has a formal training program, though 83 percent consider “on-the-job” training, especially that with a designated mentor, more effective than classroom or e-learning. As employees clearly prize formal training, share information about the store’s training programs during an interview, particularly highlighting what employees learn and ways they continue to develop their skills. Competitive Compensation As specialty retailers demand more of their staff in the experiential economy, it’s important that compensation keep pace. Among full-time staff, that means a competitive salary paired with solid benefits that promote a career, not simply a job. The average retail wage reached $19.47 per hour in April. As hourly wages rise, not only at the behest of governments but also propelled by companies such as Amazon and Walmart, the heat is on independent retailers to be a competitive bunch. In western New York, Fleet © 2018 Diversified Communications









Some runners like to wear the thinnest socks available. Thin socks inherently provide little protection from moisture, frictional hot spots or blisters; therefore, they have not been suitable to wear for long distance runs/races. Several of our ultra runners requested a thin sock they would feel safe wearing for marathons or ultra-distance races. To start, we used our very popular Hyper Thin Run sock and added low friction PTFE fibers into the high friction areas of the sock. This new sock is thin and highly breathable, it performed so well in 2018 that it helped set the Men’s Course Record at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run!





MSRP: $23.00

STEPHANIE/ Special Edition
















Technology That Protects Feet Our Extra Protection Hyper Thin Running sock helps prevent chafing and blisters with a system that incorporates PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) fibers in the high friction areas along with drymax fibers in the entire foot of the sock. Additionally, open mesh stripe vents release heat and sweat vapors to help cool and dry the feet. TM

HIGHER (worse)

Fiber Friction Comparison

Coefficient of Friction


PTFE has the lowest Coefficient-of-Friction of any fiber, making it the best for keeping friction low between the skin and sock.

0.40 0.35 0.30 0.25

Low friction PTFE fibers allow the Extra Protection Hyper Thin Running sock with the blister protection system to stay cooler and drier, reducing the chance of chafing, hot spots or blisters.

0.20 0.15 0.10 0.05 0.00

LOWER (better)

PTFE Polyester Nylon



Winning & Course Record-Setting Sock DRYMAXSPORTS.COM

Labor Pains (continued) “We believe our customer service is an art, and not everybody can do it,. We want to make sure our staff is known, validated and respected.” ELLEN BRENNER-BOUTILLIER, FLEET FEET

Feet operators Ellen BrennerBoutillier and Boots Boutillier have Project 20/21, a commitment to raise their company’s minimum wage to $20 per hour by the end of 2021. “We believe our customer service is an art and not everybody can do it,” Brenner-Boutillier told Running Insight upon launching the effort two years ago. “We want to make sure our staff is known, validated and respected.” Additional perks such as favorable product discounts, complimentary race entries, paid time off, a 401k or an incentive program that rewards employees for hitting milestones can also prove advantageous. Tackling the Millennial Anchor Millennials and Gen Z have been saddled with student debt – about $30,000 by various estimates – and InsideOut’s 2019 study found only 30 percent are confident they’ll be able to repay their student loans despite it being their top financial priority. Acknowledging this, a growing number of large companies – albeit only four percent, says the Society for Human Resources Management – are helping workers pay down their student loans with cash payments up to $250 per month. In an alternative to direct payments, insurance company Unum Group allows workers to trade paid vacation days for money toward their student loan. 16

Meanwhile, companies like Starbucks, McDonald’s and Chipotle all tout some form of tuition assistance for employees currently enrolled in school — about 10 percent of the U.S. workforce. It would be an undeniably ambitious endeavor for any running store to unveil a program that attacks student debt, but also the type of initiative that could help a business stand out with prospects and encourage highquality staff to stay. More Than a Gig Some opine that employee loyalty is dead in the gig economy, where folks can easily skip to an Uber-like side hustle that offers work on their time. But the predictability and stability a steady job provides remains valuable — for both employers and their teams. Providing employees regular hours and consistent work schedules has been shown to boost employee loyalty and spark increases in sales and productivity, according to recent research published in the Harvard Business Review about a pilot program at The Gap. Help People Grow The Sitel Group’s report uncovered that 37 percent of employees said they would leave their current job if they were not offered training to learn new skills. In addition, 92 percent said learning something new on the job increased motivation and engagement with their work. Helping staff develop, then, contributes to both productivity and retention. Work with staff to identify the skills they want to develop – sales or leadership, for instance – or

areas they want to learn more about, such as purchasing inventory or race management, and create a plan to improve their knowledge in those areas. Provide Opportunities to Shine Sue Bingham, founder of organizational development firm HPWP Group, says organizations often structure jobs that use only 30-60 percent of their employees’ brainpower, which threatens productivity and employee engagement. Bingham adds that employees encouraged to work beyond their assigned roles frequently show greater drive and dedication. A Randstad US survey examining the top reasons people quit their jobs puts Bingham’s comments in quantitative terms: 69 percent of employees said they would be more satisfied if their employers better utilized their skills and abilities. Look to leverage staff talents and interests. From photography and graphic design to those interested in race timing, store events or training, find ways to bring staff talents out into the open. Show Advancement Chances With new skills in hand, employees often desire a step up in the workplace. Absent advancement opportunities, they’re more likely to leave. The Randstad US survey, in fact, found that 58 percent of workers left because their company didn’t have enough long-term growth opportunities. Savvy business owners, especially small business owners, combat this by promoting from within as much as possible and rolling out new responsibilities and even job titles to qualified staff members.

Show staff a path beyond the sales floor by taking them to The Running Event, bringing them into footwear meetings and entrusting them with new tasks that fit their abilities, whether that’s related to merchandising, marketing or events. Install and Capable Manager The biggest reason a business might struggle to retain talent might be the people leading the business. According to a 2019 study of Gen Z employees from InsideOut Development, one in four respondents said they would leave an organization because of a boss who manages through fear. Gallup CEO Jim Clifton once went as far as saying that naming a manager is the single biggest decision a business owner makes. Clifton said nothing – not compensation nor shiny perks – could fix a poor manager. In contrast, having a respected manager in place could be just the ticket to improving retention. Value Employees The Randstad US survey found that 59 percent of people quit their jobs when companies view their own financial performance as more important than how people are treated. It’s a reminder that employees need to feel valued and respected, lest labor’s revolving door will continue spinning. Whether its spending time on the floor and tackling tasks alongside staff, sincerely recognizing a job well done or soliciting feedback on potential workplace improvements, showing employees that they are valued, important and worthy is vital to keeping them engaged and loyal. n © 2018 Diversified Communications


WP 4 â„¢

Wellness Performance Socks


3 2 1

Don’t Neglect the Soft Skills Make your store the place where everyone knows their name. / By Tom Griffen


e spend most of our staff training time focusing on how to improve the customer’s experience. We review our game’s layups, so to speak, to avoid choking on the easy stuff. Things like the greeting, the interview, suggesting new products, the affirmation, the farewell, and the list goes on. It all needs our attention. I’m a firm believer that these fundamentals can’t be drilled enough. Newbies and veterans alike need constant reminders about how to facilitate an unforgettable experience. And any shop (or staffer) who thinks they’ve been-there-done-that, or dedicates only occasional brush-ups to the basics, will eventually get left in the dust. These days, the customer’s experience requires more attention than ever. The standard flow of best business practices is no longer an aspiration, it’s now the most basic requirement. What defines an unforgettable experience these days goes above and beyond this old gold standard. It asks staffers to be experts at soft, emotional skills. Skills that can’t necessarily be measured. If you haven’t already, right now you need to shift your training focus. Rather than rely on customer service-driven sales, I suggest you incessantly practice how to deepen the human connection. Doing so will bring about three main outcomes: customer loyalty, increased UPT and staff retention. Customer Loyalty: Remember Norm from that old TV show, “Cheers?” You think he went to that bar for the beer? No way. His loyalty came from the ovation he received upon entry and then the ensuing conversation with his buddies. He wanted to be where everybody knew his name. Who wouldn’t? Increased Units Per Transaction (UPT): It’s pretty rare to spend quality time with a customer, getting to know their story and all, then watch them leave empty handed. Sure, it happens occasionally, but usually a genuine conversation builds trust and confidence in the solutions offered. Connection 18

paves the way for a bigger sale. Staff Retention: The buzz word “Millennial” has folks freaking out more than ever about staff retention. But here’s the secret — people who feel connected to their jobs (and specifically with the people at their jobs) stick around longer. It’s always been that way, even if right now it’s more of a hot topic than ever. If you’ve read this far, I know what you’re thinking: How can we practice creating deeper connections? Good question. I am glad you asked. All you need to do is dedicate the majority of your gathering efforts to what connected us all as humans — stories. Every time you circle the wagons, ask all staffers to come prepared to share a story. One that gives everyone a bit more insight into who they are. Ask them to share their hobbies. Their aspirations. Ask what song is

currently stirring them up. Have them talk about the brightest light on their horizon. Get to know what fire burns hot in their belly. Our stories never get old. And you don’t have to look far back in history to be reminded that this is how humans have always functioned in a community. A campfire story doesn’t need a campfire to be effective. Though adding it to your culture may all seem a bit odd, the invisible bonds created by such togetherness are priceless. And to know you can facilitate the strengthening of these bonds is empowering. We aren’t just offering a memorable experience to customers, we’re also offering it to each other. Keep training on the hard skills, but waste no time ramping up your commitment to the soft ones, too. n

© 2019 Diversified Communications

running shorts

Footwear Industry Icon and Innovator Jerry Turner Dies at Age 82 Jerry Turner, one of the fathers of the modern running business, died last week. He was 82. Turner had a 60-year career in the footwear business, with his first major influence coming as president of Brooks in the 1970s. There he helped create the stability shoe category and pioneered the use of EVA, an air infused foam, used to replace rubber as a midsole material. Turner said he was inspired by a conversation he had with a young miler named Marty Liquori, who pushed the exec to find a better midsole material than rubber. Turner sought out a chemical engineer at one of his suppliers who helped develop EVA as a lightweight, durable alternative. The EVA midsole made its debut the following year in a shoe called The Brooks Villanova named for the Philadelphia college where Liquori ran and established his own fame. Turner left Brooks and made his fortune as owner of American Sporting Goods in California, where he became known for developing affordable quality athletic footwear that sold primarily

through mid-tier retailers. Turner was one of the first footwear execs to source heavily out of China in factories controlled by the family of his second wife Margaret Oung. Turner produced shoes under his own Turntec name and for other brands he developed or acquired, including Ryka and Avia. Although he was president of ASG for many years, Turner remained at his heart a product guy and inveterate tinkerer. He built a miniature factory in the back offices of his Orange County headquarters, where he and his team

built and tested shoes and eventually built them in large quantities in their Asian factories. Turner was a serious student of the shoe business, staying up to date on the newest technologies and companies. He also remained supportive of his two alma maters: Omaha Central High School and University of Pennsylvania. In 2011, Turner sold ASG to Brown Shoe (now known as Caleres) for $145 million. He became one of the richest men in running, but he missed the business and in 2017 as soon as his non-compete with Caleres expired, he attempted a comeback launching Turner Footwear with the tagline “Legends Evolve.” “I had to come back to the business,” he said at the time. “That’s where all my friends are.” Turner is survived by his wife Margaret Oung, his former wife Jo-Ellen Turner, three children, a stepdaughter and seven grandchildren. Donations can be made to the Central High School Foundation of Omaha at

CEP Compression Unveils 80’s Sock CEP Compression has launched an 80’s Sock combining a classic stripes design with the advanced performance characteristics of true graduated compression. The 80’s Sock allows wearers to embrace a retro style while enhancing their workouts with CEP’s innovative textiles and 3.0 technology. CEP’s latest offering is available in three unique ‘80s-inspired designs, offering all the support and performance the brand is known for with a little added flair. Increasing oxygen-rich blood flow in the calves by up to 40 percent, CEP’s 80’s Sock can help athletes improve their power and endurance while also speeding up the recovery process. “Our 80’s Sock juxtaposes a retro look with future-forward technology entrenched 20

in the design to help athletes improve their performance and recovery,” says senior VP Luke Rowe. “Whether you’re going to a themed 5K, celebrating on the 4th of July or just looking to add some gnarly flare to your workout, the ‘80s stripes give athletes a way to enjoy the benefits of compression wear while showing off their style.” “We want every CEP customer to feel like there is a sock that fits their needs and remind them that they don’t have to sacrifice personal style for performance,” Rowe adds. “The 80’s Sock extends our portfolio of quality compression socks with a timeless design, so that any runner, cyclist, triathlete or sport athlete can cross the finish line, literally and figuratively, in style.”

© 2019 Diversified Communications

At TriggerPoint™ we believe everyone should be empowered to move and feel better. So we keep innovating and striving to develop the best in massage therapy equipment for athletes of all levels. Questions? Email or call toll-free at 800-729-5954. Š2019 Implus Footcare, LLC TriggerPoint is a trademark of Implus Footcare, LLC


running shorts

For more on The BibRave 100:

The BibRave 100: A Definitive List of the Best Races in America, Returns for 2019 BibRave, the running industry leader in grassroots digital marketing, has opened nominations for the third edition of The BibRave 100: A Definitive List of the Best Races in America. The list will also feature a reimagined format that highlights new race distances and categories from across the running and racing events in the U.S. MYLAPS, After Shokz and Recover Brands are all returning sponsors for 2019. In 2019, The BibRave 100 will feature new distances and categories to highlight additional events for runners to consider. Runners will still vote on the top 20 marathons and top 20 half marathons, but for the first time The BibRave 100 will include a composite category of the 25 best races at or below 10 miles. That means runners can now nominate and vote for their favorite one-mile, 5K, 10K, 15K, and 10-mile races. As with past years, The BibRave 100 will also feature three non-distance categories, including the top 10 Themed Races, the top 10 Races with the Best Medals/Swag, and the top 10 Race Weekend Experiences. Lastly, The Green Lion Award, which recognizes innovators in sustainability, returns to

honor the top five races that have integrated sustainable practices into their race operations to reduce the carbon footprint of their event. Some examples include recycling and composting, sourcing recycled swag and local, organic food, reducing waste and donating leftover materials and providing tap water solutions in place of small plastic water bottles. Nominations for The BibRave 100 2019 opened July 8 and run through July 31. Voting on the finalists will then take place

from August 12 to September 2. The final results will again be announced at an awards luncheon at The Running Event in December. Each race that makes the list will also get help from “Benjamin,” The BibRave 100’s plush lion mascot, plus a social media and press toolkit to help them use their inclusion to publicize and market their race. “BibRave is all about highlighting and elevating the best races and The BibRave 100 is an easy-to-reference guide of what races really deserve a place on a runner’s calendar,” says Tim Murphy, co-founder of BibRave. “2018’s list was a huge hit and races continue to blow us away by creatively using their spot on The BibRave 100 to promote their race.” Between now and July 31, anyone can nominate a race for inclusion into The BibRave 100. After the nomination period has closed a public runner vote will take place and the results will decide the final order of The BibRave 100. For more information on dates and how the list will be created, see the FAQ section as well as The BibRave 100 Nomination Page at

Brooks Signs Two NCAA Champions Brooks recently signed NCAA title-holders Allie Ostrander and Karisa Nelson to its Brooks Beasts Track Club. The two women have deep experience in championship racing and add depth ahead of the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Ostrander is a three-time NCAA Division I steeplechase champion. A graduate of Boise State University, Ostrander is an 11-time All American and holds places in the NCAA top-15 all-time lists in the 5000-meter run, 10,000 meters and steeplechase. Nelson is the NCAA DI 2017 indoor one-mile champion and 2019 runner-up. Nelson graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, AL. “Welcoming Allie and Karisa to the team is a big moment for the Beasts,” says sports 22

marketing manager Steve DeKoker. “Adding the two collegiate champions to our roster demonstrates the team’s growth as well as our continued investment into this part of our sport. Allie and Karisa both care about inspiring runners of all backgrounds and their glass-half-full Allie Ostrander attitudes will be a perfect fit for the team.” Brooks sponsors athletes such as Ostrander and Nelson to inspire runners and to invest in the sport of running. Other investments into the sport include supporting the Brooks Beasts, sponsoring the Hansons-Brooks

Karisa Nelson

Original Distance Project, the Inspiring Coach of the Year Award that recognizes coaches who create meaningful change in their communities and the Brooks Booster Club which supports underfunded high school track and cross country teams.

© 2019 Diversified Communications

The WIDE WORLD of RUN Interested in Exhibiting?

The Running Event is the intersection of all key players in the run industry.

Contact Us! Christina Henderson (214) 263-4706

DECEMBER 3–5, 2019 • AUSTIN, TEXAS Produced by

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.