Running Insight 7.16.2018

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Danny Abshire re-enters the running game.

JULY 16, 2018



AB-SOLUTELY Newton founder introduces new shoe line. / By Mark Sullivan


anny Abshire, widely regarded as the creative mind behind the Newton running designs, has introduced a new line of shoes

from his Active Imprints company. The line features two shoes — an athleisure model called the Active 88 (named after the year Active Imprints was founded) and

the Boulder, an ultra-lightweight training shoe. Both shoes retail for $120 and are available to select retailers. “The market has changed a great deal since

Jennifer and Danny Abshire show off the fruits of their new labor of love.

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2018 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published twice each month, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email.The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Divesified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500.



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Ab-solutely (continued)

The Boulder design (top) currently features the Colorado state flag as part of its design. The Active 88 (below) is described as a do “everything” shoe suitable for training and light running.


Newton first came on the market (in 2007),” Abshire tells Running Insight. “I’m not trying to compete with Nike, New Balance and Saucony. I’m trying to offer stores and consumers something new and special that they don’t currently have.” Abshire says his many manufacturing contacts in Asia will allow him to produce “small batch” production runs, which will cut down on waste and make the shoes “rare” when they hit the market. The small runs, between 250 and 500 pair, also enable Active Imprints to customize the shoes with store names on them if a retailer so desires. “Stores are doing that with apparel and hats and now they can do it with shoes.” Runner’s Edge, in Farmingdale, NY, was the first run store to carry the new line. Abshire said owner Bob Cook was also one of the first Newton accounts. When Abshire’s first Newtondesigned shoes hit the market in 2007, his concepts of Natural Running with an emphasis on minimal footwear construction were viewed as revolutionary and Newton quickly became the darling of triathletes and other early adapters. Paula Newby-Fraser was among the first investors in the firm and several years later Newton took on a $20 million investment from former Reebok founder Paul Fireman. Despite the financial backing, the brand struggled to build a broader success and has since been overtaken by other innovators such as Vibram Five Fingers, Hoka One One, Altra and the like. Est ablished bra nds with resources such as New Balance rol le d out a “Goo d For m Running” program, a philosophy © 2018 Diversified Communications

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Ab-solutely (continued) “I’m not trying to compete with Nike, New Balance and Saucony. I’m trying to offer stores and consumers something new and special that they don’t currently have.” DANNY ABSHIRE, ACTIVE IMPRINTS


championed by Abshire in his book “Natural Running.” Abshire officially left the brand he founded last year, served a sixmonth non-compete and about a month ago introduced two shoes out of Active Imprints, a company he and his wife Jennifer founded in 1988 to produce orthotics. Abshire said his interest in creating the new collection was prompted while traveling through Asia conducting a series of running clinics. He said that trip re-inforced his belief that the market needed shoes that are lightweight and technical and support the foot and body. “You don’t need a lot of shoe if your form is right. Your foot provides its own stability and shock absorption.” n

© 2018 Diversified Communications


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Retail on the Road Heats Up The author’s walking tour across America enters Arkansas as summer arrives. / By Tom Griffen


fter 54 days and more than 1000 miles, I finally left Texas and entered Arkansas via Texarkana, where traffic muddles the invisible boundary. One second I was in the Lone Star, and the next, the Natural State. The moment, though anticlimactic, was a joyous mark of significant progress. Any evidence of spring had disappeared. The sudden onset of high temps coupled with jungly moisture added minutes to each mile. It became impossible to keep things dry. And anyone who has left a pair of sweaty gym shorts in the summer trunk of a car knows the ensuing result. An ungodly smell that’s impossible to hide yet one which, to me, has come to offer proof that I’m getting closer to the Atlantic coast. Safe to say that my “perfume” has not scared people off. Just the opposite. Since my arrival in Arkansas, I’ve struggled to complete my average 28 miles because so many people want to stop and chat. This warm welcome continued as I approached Little Rock. So I wasn’t surprised that the run shops I visited there followed suit. Fleet Feet Sports Easy Runner, Little Rock, AR

Noelle Pollock Coughlan’s running life started back in elementary school. Rocking bluejeans and Keds at the bi-weekly run club, she earned the name “Tomato Face.” A moniker used not to poke fun, but to celebrate the most obvious tell of her hard work. Noelle’s family moved a lot and her work ethic and passion for running became constants during her jaunts around the globe. Noelle ran her first official race as a middle schooler in the Philippines. The Wacky Road Race 3K. While living in Tokyo, Japan, she ran mostly for fun. “I remember running past the emperor’s palace,” she says. “The grounds are huge and making it all the way around was a big deal.” In the midst of her effort, locals shout, “Gambatte!” Japanese for “good luck.” 8

Fleet Feet Sports Easy Runner owners Noelle Pollock Coughlan and Sean Coughlan get close to the author even though the summer heat has given him a distinct “road perfume” smell. Store dog Trail (lower left) seems to have picked up the scent, though.

Noelle attended Syracuse University with aspirations to become a film director. By day, she studied Communications and International Relations. By night, she DJ’d for a local radio station. “My job was to play party music that got people ready to go out,” she says. Upon graduation, she moved to Los Angeles and quickly landed a job as the receptionist for a film bonding company. That position led to a better one with Sony Pictures as assistant to the VP of accounting. She liked the stability of a 9-to-5 job and decided to shed her directing dreams. She still, however, directed small projects on

the side. “In one production I had to drive a golf cart down the center aisle and hope I didn’t hit anyone,” she says. “That was pretty memorable.” Also memorable — her first marathon. Los Angeles 1997. One night, after coming home early from a solo camping trip where, “Everything I heard was a grizzly bear,” she met a friend out for drinks. There she met a fellow named Sean, an Australian traveling the world. They stayed in touch, and two years later decided to meet up again. “We both knew we were meant to be,” she says. After getting married, Sean also got involved in the film industry. Together they

© 2018 Diversified Communications


Retail on the Road (continued)

The author stops for a chat with Go! Running staffers Stacey and Meghan and owner Gary Taylor.

worked on Tim Burton’s “Big Fish,” Noelle on the accounting side and Sean in the “greens” department (set landscaping). Remember the daffodil scene? Sean did that. After Big Fish, they relocated to Port Saint Lucie, FL, where Sean took a job shuttling private yachts up and down the east coast. It was there that Noelle stopped in a local run shop, a Fleet Feet Sports, to buy a Pro Stretch. “I did a group run with them,” she said. “It was right after a hurricane and I remember we had to step over trees.” She was smitten, took a job as a floor employee and fell for the business. So much that owning a store popped on her radar. Thus began her and Sean’s circuitous educational journey, learning from run specialty mentors in West Hartford, CT, and Cincinnati, OH, before landing in Little Rock. “We had to get the OK from Easy Runner’s founders, Gary and Libby Smith,” she says. “We hit it off immediately and 10

it’s our honor to pick up where they left off.” Noelle and Sean love that running ignores barriers. “You can be a CEO or janitor, it doesn’t matter,” she says. “It’s cool when people tell us we’ve helped them,” she says. Noelle believes running is just a big metaphor for life. Her email tag line reads, “Keep moving!” “Even if you stop running, there’s always something else,” she says. “Being a part of that, in all its forms, means everything to us. If you aren’t happy to be here, we’re doing something wrong.” Go! Running, Little Rock, AR

In May 1980, at just 16-years old, shop owner Gary Taylor broke Jim Ryun’s age-group world record for the 1500 meters — 3:45:6. Just over a year later, while running for the British team at the Dallas Times Herald meet, he met legendary Arkansas coach John McDonnell. “He invited me to Fayetteville to see a meet and I figured why not, I’m already this far,” he says. Future three-time

olympian, Frank O’Mara, hosted him during his stay and it sparked a lifelong friendship. Coach McDonnell tried to recruit Gary on the spot. But because of the British subvention program (wherein promising athletes get paid to train), Gary had no reason to come to the U.S. to run. So he returned to London and soon found himself with a sidelining injury — a strained Achilles. “I couldn’t run at all,” he says. “I had nothing.” But fate stepped in when he randomly bumped into Coach McDonnell again — at a British meet, no less. Gary hobbled up to greet him, crutches under his arms and a boot on his foot. “Coach asked me when I was going to come to Arkansas,” he says. “I was like, ‘you’d take me like this?’ Coach said, ‘Sure, we’ll get you all fixed up’.” And just like that, Gary became a Razorback. Gary had a fantastic career running for Arkansas. He’s proud to be part of a group of runners who can call themselves

sub-four- minute milers. His collegiate highlight: “Holding off a group of runners in the 1984 NCAA XC champs and finishing fifth in our first-ever national championship.” Gary’s first job out of college was as an IT programmer for Wal-Mart. where he regularly interacted with legendary founder Sam Walton. He later held a VP position for telecom company, Alltel. When Verizon took them over, he, and many other higherups, were paid out. Go! Running is Gary’s ensuing passion project. The store name pays tribute to his mother who used to shout “Go Gary!” at all his meets. Gary wanted the shop to reflect local architecture. Exposed brick links the shop with surrounding buildings. Imagery soon to adorn his walls will highlight local landmarks. “Philosophically, I wanted the shop to stay true to family values,” he says. “To welcome people with open arms and make conscious partnerships with other businesses.” A good example: free cups of fresh, locally roasted, specialty coffee for all customers to enjoy. Staff member Stacey confirmed the Go! Running culture. “We cater to all sizes, shapes, sizes and abilities,” she says. “Our team’s intention is to be inclusive.” Gary’s a doer. And these days he’s dreaming of a performance facility that offers training opportunities for athletes on the cusp of greatness. “There are so many runners who are this close to making the break,” he says, “but lose their edge after college. What if we could make it possible for them get to the next level? Wouldn’t that be fantastic?” n © 2018 Diversified Communications

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The Next Generation Of Albert Arrives Aetrex’s Albert Scanner now offers stores data analysis capabilities. / By Mark Sullivan


s in-store foot scanning becomes more prevalent in running stores, one of the pioneers in the field is working on what it sees as the next evolution in the process. Aetrex, which makes the Lynco brand of insoles, is rolling out an enhanced software system for its Albert scanning system that allows stores 12

and consumers to better use and analyze the information that the system captures. “We capture a ton of data,” says Aetrex president Larry Schwartz. “And we’re figuring out how to share it with stores and consumers in ways that benefit both.” Aetrex’s Albert system includes 18 cameras and 5000 sensors underfoot and does a

3D scan of feet in about 30 seconds (that’s down from 90 seconds when the system initially rolled out last year). Each scan measures the width, length, dorsal height, arch height and girth of a foot as well as underfoot pressure, but Schwartz says that’s only where the fun begins. On a computer screen linked to the

© 2018 Diversified Communications


Aetrex Albert (continued)

“We capture a ton of data. And we’re figuring out how to share it with stores and consumers in ways that benefit both.” LARRY SCHWARTZ, PRESIDENT, AETREX

scanner, consumers can view a high definition scan of their foot and have store personnel use a “telestration” feature to call attention to any features worth noting. On a recent visit to the Aetrex offices, Schwartz made like a TV sports analyst highlighting high arches on one scan. “This relates to selling insoles, but also running shoes as well. There are certain brands that fit different foot types and this is a way for stores to use the technology to educate consumers and ultimately sell them product that is best suited for them.” The 3D measurements can also be matched up against the population average, which allows retailers to tell an integrated story about each runner’s feet. Once that data is shared, consumers have the ability to create their own foot passport, which will include all

these different measurements as well as their brand preferences and any idiosyncrasies about how those particular brands fit or don’t fit their feet. “That should make shopping easier for them, whether in-store or online,” Schwartz says. “And with online shopping in particular, it should dramatically cut down on the rate of returns.” There is also data that stores can use internally. For example, stores can pull reports on how many scans they do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Stores can also measure how many scans individual employees perform. Multi-door operations can measure scans per door and Aetrex also produces a Scan Leaderboard of sorts, which shows the 10 stores in the country which perform the most scans. Dur ing the scanning process, stores capture customer e-mails and cell phone

numbers and Schwartz says that allows stores to deliver customized communications to consumers based on their shoe size or particular foot characteristics. “Stores can send e-mails to all size sevens,” he says, “or they can reach out to people who have flat arches to promote an in-store clinic or a particular product that addresses their needs. “With this data, stores can take customized digital marketing to another level,” he adds. “It’s perfect for smaller stores that would not have the ability to do this type of customer analysis on their own. “ Aetrex has its Albert scanners in about 150 stores and Schwartz is already thinking about what’s next. “In the very near future, systems like this will be voice activated and we’re not far away from 3D printed insoles created in stores,” he says. n

The amount of customer data captured by Albert can take customized digital marketing to another level.


© 2018 Diversified Communications


DON’T BE AFRAID! Embrace the Milliennials you hire by understanding what they want out of a job. / By Tom Griffen

The Millennial generation is not going anywehre, so retailers need to embrace them as both employees and customers.


y two cents: retailers need to stop sweating Millennials. Why? Because they aren’t going away. If anything, retailers ought to do everything they can to keep up with changes in the modern day workforce. In other words, they should try to figure out the best way to accommodate 20- and 30-somethings, rather than gripe 16

about how different they are from the socalled norm. Because guess what? That ain’t the norm no more. Fact is, long gone are the days when someone accepts a job and sticks around for decades. The age of depending on “old school” technology (or worse, no technology) is over. It’s not cool (or smart) to be

behind the times. It’s also quite unattractive. The younger generation of employees is motivated by leaders who work alongside them, rather than one who barks demands from the back office. Frankly, millennials can’t be blamed for this evolution of business. They just happen to be the ones taking the heat for a sudden onset of necessary, and often uncomfortable (or unexpected) change.

© 2018 Diversified Communications


Millennials (continued) The most innovative retailers recognize that staff transiency is the new standard. So they actively work on new ways to inspire employees to stick around for a year, maybe two. And shoot, if they are really lucky, three. But such intrinsic attraction takes work. It might even force owners to reach outside their comfort zones. This is a good thing. It’s easy for us old dogs to look at younger staffers and shake our heads at, for example, always checking their phones. Granted, when cell phones were still just phones there was no place for them on the retail floor. But now the phone has more computing power than the first rocket to the moon. Why wouldn’t we want to somehow use that to our advantage? This doesn’t mean neglecting

customers in lieu of taking personal calls or a typing a flurry of texts. No way. Well-defined rules and boundaries are still necessary. Bottom line, retailers need to evolve with current technology if they want to keep younger folks on the payroll for more than a quarter. So what’s a curmudgeon to do? Millennials want to be in a position of constant learning. They are used to an online overstimulation and may view the retail environment as boring if if doesn’t regularly engage them. This may be inspire a boost the store’s been waiting for. A trigger to ensure consistent educational opportunities. If ever there was a time when daily training is absolutely imperative, it is now. Millennials also want meaning. They want to be part of

something bigger than merely slinging a bunch of widgets. This emotional tie-in can not be demanded. It must be genuinely displayed (by the leadership team) and then lived. Meaning stems back to each store’s foundational vision and story — the store’s birth story needs to be in the popular vernacular. Younger staffers also want to feel autonomous, which echoes how well managers train staff to be empowered. They also want to work in an efficient environment. Wise retailers will utilize the expertise of a tech-savvy staffers as the store upgrades systems and processes. Oftentimes, the best advice for innovation comes from outsiders (or, folks who are new to the business). Hint: Millennials! Remember, Millennials are

Millennials want to be in a position of constant learning. They are used to an online overstimulation and may view the retail environment as boring if if doesn’t regularly engage them. the generation who thrive on simplicity (think: Snapchat or Twitter’s 140-characters). They are adept at social sharing and shining a public light on daily accomplishments. When retailers lock onto Millennials’ value system, they’ll notice it actually aligns with their own. Modernize your shop’s engagement story. Not only will younger employees stick around, they just might be the unexpected (and necessary) catalyst to bring things to the next level. n

A work/life balance is of paramount importance to Millennials, who want more out of their jobs than a paycheck and a product discount.


© 2018 Diversified Communications



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Big Peach Hits the Road Specialty retailer debuts mobile shop in Atlanta market this month.


he Atlanta running community no longer has to head all the way to their local store for its running gear. That’s because this month Big Peach Running Co., Georgia’s largest running specialty retailer, hit the roads around town with its “Big Peach On Wheels,” what it calls “The Ultimate Mobile Shoe Fit Experience.” Big Peach On Wheels, currently focusing on the Atlanta market, offers a fully stocked mobile shoe fitting and specialty retail experience. The 30-foot vehicle will travel with a complement of technology and team members to fit visitors for the perfect athletic shoe. It also comes with full audio and video to add entertainment and education to every stop. The ready-to-go-showroom and inventory includes more than 400 pairs of shoes, socks and inserts from top brands. “Big Peach On Wheels was created due to a consumer demand for even more convenience,” says Big Peach founder and co-owner Mike Cosentino. “While we have seven locations throughout the Metro Atlanta area, people are busier than ever. And, for sure, no one wants to spend more time sitting in traffic. “Big Peach On Wheels will offer convenience alongside the same world-class customer service that our guests have come to expect,” he adds. “We’ll also be able to reach areas that lack experienced and knowledgeable specialty retail that can help enhance and grow a pedestrian active lifestyle.” Big Peach Running Co. has already developed relationships with several Atlanta-based corporations and will be scheduling visits to those corporate campuses and office parks. Big Peach On Wheels also has strategic partnerships with local races and will be offering a full-service retail experience just steps from the Start/Finish line. The first event was the Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside 5K/8K on July 14. Founded in Atlanta in 2004, Big Peach 20

Seen around town (above), the “Big Peach on Wheels.” The mobile shop contains more than 400 pairs of shoes, along with socks and accessories from the major brands carried in its seven stores.

Running Co., now with seven stores across the metropolitan Atlanta area, was recently selected as one of the Top 50 Best Running Stores in America. Its award winning 3-Step

Fit Process develops TransFORMed Running Workshops that help runners with proper running technique to reduce impact while running. n

© 2018 Diversified Communications


running shorts


Zero is the Number for Mizuno and Fleet Feet Breast Cancer Awareness Initiative

leet Feet and Mizuno are once again partnering to raise funds for breast cancer research with a special running shoe collaboration. Called Project Zero, the initiative includes a Mizuno men’s and women’s running shoe to be sold exclusively in Fleet Feet stores starting in late summer. With Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, the marketing will ramp up this fall for the Waveknit R2, an updated version of Mizuno’s Waverider 22 midsole. The shoes feature a pink ribbon as well as Fleet Feet’s new logo. The two companies will donate $10 from each pair of shoes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Also included in the Project Zero initiative


© 2018 Diversified Communications


Truth is, there is no perfect running shoe. It’s pure fantasy. Because there are no perfect runners. There, we said it. Every runner runs differently — which is why our shoes use a foam that’s “alive,” able to last longer and adapt over time to the way you run individually. So does this make a great shoe? More and more people think so. But even we know perfection isn’t a shoe, it’s a chase. One that goes beyond your expectations.


running shorts (continued) are tights, tops, shorts, singlets and shirts, with $5 from each sale of those items going to the cause. Last year Mizuno and Fleet Feet raised $72,175 in its first Project Zero partnership. That inaugural Project Zero campaign highlighted stories of strength and perseverance from six charismatic, inspiring breast cancer survivors, and people whose lives have been touched by breast cancer, including Mizuno pro athletes April Ross, Jennie Finch and Meaghan Krifchin. Running USA Names Board

Fila Expands DC in Baltimore

Fila North America recently signed a 10-year lease on a site adjacent to its current facility in

Joe Bellantoni, a visually impaired Achilles athlete, triumphantly crosses the 2018 Hope & Possibility finish line alongside his wife and Achilles guide Denise during the 16th Annual Achilles International Race for Hope & Possibility, the largest race in the world that embraces people with disabilities, June 24 in New York City’s Central Park. Organized by the New York Road Runners, the four-mile course through New York’s Central Park brings together people from around the globe with various disabilities, including visually-impaired and amputee runners, as well as wheelchair racers. Finishers received medals, as well as various prizes in several categories, including a $500 Gift Certificate and a new bike donated by U-Haul.

Baltimore, more than doubling its DC space in the city.

The lease totals 731,500square feet. n

©2018 Body Glide

Running USA recently named three new board members to twoyear director terms, which run from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2020. • Michelle Coss, who currently serves as interim president and director of community engagement for the Michigan Fitness Foundation. She has been a leader in developing running as a statewide habit for Michigan residents, including an active role on the PureMichigan Fit campaign. • Donna Grogan, VP–development and fundraising for the Lupus Foundation of America, ove r s e es t he f u nd r a isi ng

strategy for the Foundation, which includes donor acquisition strategies and peer-to-peer fundraising events. • Tony Yamanaka, VP–operations for Event Southwest of Austin, TX, an event production company. Also joining the Board of Directors by appointment to fill a vacant seat is Eric Cone, VP– strategic business for RunSignUp. Cone fills a seat vacated by Sally Bergesen, who stepped down from the board. His term will expire in June, 2019. Continuing on the board for an additional two years are Bryan Lively, president and CEO, ACL Squared Consulting; Dimity McDowell, co-founder, Another Mother Runner; Gary Schwake, VP–strategic business development, ACTIVE Network; Heidi Swartz, executive director, The Cowtown; and Matt West, senior VP of Operations, DMSE. The next Running USA Board of Directors meeting is set for July 30, 2018 in Detroit.

Leave Nothing To Chance



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© 2018 Diversified Communications

athlete: Rory Bosio, 2-Time UTMB Champion artwork: Dennis Mukai reference photograph: Luis Escobar






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