Running Insight 7.29.22

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2022 BEST RUNNING STORES REVEALED: PAGE 32

THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM

MARCH2022 16, 2020 JULY/AUGUST,

TECH’S

MESSAGE

Combining the personal touch with the advantages of retail technology is allowing run specialty retailers to service an increasingly savvy consumer.

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The Technology Issue

THE PERSONAL TECH Advances in retail technology are changing the run retail game — mostly for the better.

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he conversation over the role of technology in run specialty retailing is never going to end — and it should not.

invested in while at the same time knowing how to connect with a customer by asking the right questions and actually listening to their responses.

On the one side there are the proponents of the good old human element, the ability of a store associate to connect with new and experienced runners alike and offer the personal touch that sets specialty retail apart from the big boxes or online retailers. If they don’t know your name and foot size when you walk in the door, they will by the time you leave. Let’s call them the Brannock device set.

If you take a look at the list of 2022 Best Running Stores in America winners on page 32 you will know what we are talking about. These retailers know how to balance technology and the personal touch and they richly deserve BRS recognition.

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Then there are the men and women – usually younger, but increasingly joined by a few old timers – who embrace and rely on what the latest and greatest technology brings to the shoe fitting and selling game. Sure, they are friendly and know how to engage with those same customers, but when the rubber meets the road it is the foot scanners, mobile devices and the like that set the tone. This Technology Issue of Running Insight is aimed at bringing them together in one big happy, technically advanced and customer-centric family. The best running stores already know they have to marry both concepts – making sure their associates are adept at whatever foot scanning technology they have

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2022 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published monthly, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email.The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Divesified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500.

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Running Insight strives to live in both worlds – connecting digitally every month and personally at retailer visits and especially at The Running Event in Austin in November. That works for us and we’ll see you there. n

= $$$ ON THE COVER: Charlotte Running Company, the 2021 Store of the Year, has embraced technology in the form of MOTOTV’s in-store television that streams event information, product specs and race highlights.

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Christina Henderson.........................................chenderson@Divcom.com Daemon Filson....................................................... dfilson@Divcom.com Glenn Dulberg.....................................................gdulberg@Divcom.com Mark Sullivan.................................................... msullivan@Divcom.com

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The Technology Issue

RETAIL TECH

How run shops are using tech to be better, stronger retailers. / By Daniel P. Smith

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t’s hard to escape technology these days, a reality that rings especially true for small business owners such as run specialty retailers looking to fulfill customer demands, run efficient, contemporary operations and capture results in a competitive marketplace. So while the personal touch remains the hallmark of run specialty in 2022, shops across the U.S. – both large and small – are tapping into technology to enhance the in-store experience, drive customer service and propel sales. Running Insight highlights four running stores and a technology each has incorporated of late to become a better, stronger and more responsive retail operation. MyFootBalance @ Georgia Game Changers Interested in taking its customer experience “to the next level,” Georgia Game Changers in Richmond Hill, GA, began using the MyFootBalance 3D foot scanning service from Finnish company FootBalance earlier this year. “We wanted to give something more to the customer that was really personalized to them,” Game Changers manager Zach Fitzgerald says. After a 15-second scan of a customer’s feet, MyFootBalance provides key measurements, such as length, width and instep, and a biomechanical analysis to understand one’s foot type and degree of pronation. The system then translates those data points into specific footwear recommendations aligned with Game Changers’ inventory. “This is an additional tool to help guide shoe selection and it also gives us some added credibility because it puts objective, hard data behind the recommendations we’re making,” Fitzgerald says. Additionally, Game Changers can produce 4

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Georgia Game Changers incorporated the MyFootBalance 3D foot scanning service into its store earlier this year. Leadership at the Richmond Hill, GA-based store credits the system for adding credibility to their sit-and-fit experience and boosting sales of margin-friendly insoles.

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Retail Tech (continued)

“Customers like to know they have a defined spot and that we are valuing their time. The appointment also adds credibility to our retail experience, too.” Ken Larscheid, Running Lab Playmakers installed a host stand inside the front door of the Okemos, MI, storefront to greet customers and add them to the Waitlist Me app. Using the app, Playmakers maintains an ongoing waitlist to queue incoming customers and put its guests at ease.

$75 custom inserts in five minutes using the MyFootBalance technology. Fitzgerald says many of the store’s military customers immediately toss the insoles into their boots or shoes because “they see the value.” “This system allows us to offer a high-quality insert at an incredibly reasonable price, and that’s where we’re seeing the biggest lift,” Fitzgerald says.

recording descriptive features (i.e., red sweater, black baseball cap) which will later help a staff member find the individual to start the fitting process. “This is all about putting the guest at ease,” Playmakers co-owner Brian Jones says. “If they see a busy store, they can

be intimidated by that and we want to bring calm to the apparent chaos.” If the wait list is active – Jones puts the average wait time on a Saturday with 24 shoe fitters at two-to-three minutes – guests can roam the 25,000-square-foot store, which includes a water

Running Lab in Brighton, MI, has been allowing customers to schedule online appointments since 2019, most recently by using Waitwhile.

Waitlist Me @ Playmakers For years, Okemos, MI-based Playmakers tested different waiting list systems to bring ease and efficiency to its busiest days, especially as the 40-year-old run shop insists on a one-on-one shoe fitting for every customer. When pagers, texting and a card system fell short, store leadership turned to Waitlist Me, an app designed for managing restaurant wait lists. Playmakers created a host stand inside its front door. When customers arrive, a greeter checks them in on Waitlist Me, capturing their name and 6

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feature and a clearance section on the mezzanine level. When a shoe fitter finishes up with one customer, that staff member then approaches the host stand to receive their next customer. A monitor behind the shoe wall, meanwhile, provides a live feed of the waitlist. “We see a lot less anxiety from customers because they know we are aware,” Playmakers co-owner Andy Marsh says. In addition, Waitlist Me provides valuable data Playmakers leadership can put into action. If wait times are consistently high on specific days, for instance, management can adjust staff scheduling accordingly. Waitwhile @ Running Lab Though Waitwhile is most popular in restaurants and healthcare settings, Running Lab owner Ken Larscheid began testing the virtual waitlist and queue management app for his Brighton, MI, store before the pandemic to strengthen its online appointment booking. © 2022 Diversified Communications


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Retail Tech (continued)

“Our store is huge on information and education and this is a way for us to get information to our customers and even our staff in a straightforward way.” Harry Chandler, Charlotte Runing Company

The Charlotte Running Company began using MOTOTV in select stores earlier this year and has used the in-store television network as a communications tool for staff and customers, including promoting events and local races.

While Running Lab does not require customers to schedule an appointment for a shoe fitting, those who do book an in-store fitting online – a simple twostep process that only requires customers select a time and provide their name and mobile number – receive priority upon their arrival. “Customers like to know they have a defined spot and that we are valuing their time,” says La rscheid, who, li ke Playmakers, relies on one-onone service. “The appointment also adds credibility to our retail experience, too.” La rscheid often utilizes appointment booking as a call to action in his marketing and a way to get people to commit to a Running Lab visit – and for 8

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good reason, too. He says the average sale among customers who have booked an appointment easily trumps the average sale of walk-in customers. As traffic levels have accelerated at Running Lab, Larscheid has adjusted in response to staff feedback. Today, there are no appointments on weekends nor appointments near closing time, which has reduced friction for staff on the frontlines. “It’s important with any tech to listen to your staff and make sure it makes sense for them,” says Larscheid, who also uses Waitwhile to manage a waitlist during busy periods. MOTOTV @ Charlotte Running Company After first being introduced to

MOTOTV at The Running Event late last year, the Charlotte Running Company (CRC) began trialing the customizable instore television network at its Dilworth store, though the fivestore chain has since installed the system at other CRC locations as well. MOTOTV provides a rotating display of current runningthemed branded content while also allowing run shops to incorporate their own storespecific advertisements and announcements. While CRC initially relied on stock imagery and videos from many of its brand partners, CRC general manager Harry Chandler says the store has increasingly integrated more CRC-centric content.

T he Dilwor th store, for instance, uses MOTOTV as a digital billboard of sorts to share an array of relevant community news around packet pickups and local events. Directly from his computer, Chandler can mix and match already loaded photos and videos alongside customized CRC content. The system also automatically syncs with CRC’s Instagram and Facebook pages to relay the freshest content. “Our store is huge on information and education and this is a way for us to get information to our customers and even our staff in a straightforward way,” Chandler says, adding that the engaging visuals also serve as a customer diversion tool when the store is busy. n © 2022 Diversified Communications


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The Technology Issue

TECH IN MOTION

A British running store makes a mighty investment in a high-tech motion capture system. / By Daniel P. Smith

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he use of technology in selling shoes and servicing runners is, of course, not limited to run specialty stores in the U.S. In fact, at The Active Foot Company in Worcester, England, a 100,000-resident city located about 130 miles northwest of London, a high-tech running analysis solution is propelling the 21-year-old specialty shop’s efforts to help local athletes and diversify its revenue streams.

Just over a year ago, Active Foot invested more than $20,000 in a suspension-less treadmill that mimics road running, two infrared cameras and the detailed MotionMetrix markerless motion capture system to bring its customers a comprehensive biomechanical profile capable of spurring more economical, efficient and healthier running. A 60-min 3D analysis runs £70 ($88 U.S.). That includes an in-depth gait and

technique analysis, a copy of the session report and an immediate conversation about the runner’s movement in relation to individual goals or concerns. The session highlights efficient movement, overworking joints and underworking technique. A 90-minute session costing £125 ($158 U.S.), meanwhile, layers in a coaching component. After reviewing the collected data, an Active Foot coach will suggest “a more effective run action using timing exercises,

At The Active Foot Company in England, customers can schedule a 60 or 90-minute session on the MotionMetrix markerless motion capture system. MotionMetrix then produces an ultra-detailed biomechanical profile for each runner.

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© 2022 Diversified Communications



Tech in Motion (continued)

The MotionMetrix system provides a wealth of personalized biomechanical data in addition to two skeletal views of the runner in motion. Active Foot coaches then discuss results with runners and highlight potential areas for improvement.

drills and posture cues” and also recommend pre-run and postrun routines to encourage more efficient running action aligned with racing and training goals. “This kind of in-depth study isn’t being provided around us, so we’re filling a need,” says Andy Stevens, a Minnesota ex-pat and Active Foot team member for the last decade. The MotionMetrix Method When an athlete arrives, Stevens or another Active Foot coach begins by discussing the individual’s running history, current training level, goals and injury history as well as the customer’s occupation, which can affect posture and running technique. Then, the coach will direct the athlete to the treadmill and capture a 45-second running sample. The MotionMetrix system provides a recording of the runner alongside skeletal views 12

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from two different angles – frontal plane and side plane – in addition to a wealth of data points on running economy, elastic economy and a runner’s stride parameters, which includes information on cadence, ground contact time, vertical force and other key metrics. The system also compares each runner to an algorithm-fueled “idealized runner” to quickly identify specific areas of note. “We walk runners through each metric to define what we’re talking about, see where we’re off and where we can improve,” Stevens says. While the store’s 60-minute session is the more in-demand option and secures 8-10 weekly bookings, word of mouth continues fueling interest in both the 60- and 90-minute offerings. The sessions have gained popularity among performanceoriented athletes, though Stevens

says intrigue extends beyond the hyper-elite. MotionMetrix customers run the gamut from people who are simply curious about what they look like to those eager to avoid past injuries to physical therapists geeked to see the system’s detailed analysis. “And it’s neat seeing people’s reactions,” Stevens says. “People are blown away by all the information and excited to learn more about how they run and how they can improve.” Additional Revenue Opportunity While Active Foot added MotionMetrix as a service to help local athletes, Stevens acknowledges its revenuegenerating role as well. And given the sizable investment the store made in the system and the personalized guidance it enables the shop’s coaches to provide athletes, he says there was never a question about

attaching a price to the analysis. “With the brands rushing to sell direct to consumer, this is a hedge against that and a way to diversify our revenue potential,” says Stevens, noting that his store, like numerous other independent run shops across the United Kingdom, also charges a footwear fitting fee. (At The Active Foot, for instance, that fee is applied as a credit to any same-day footwear purchase.) And while The Active Foot, of course, sells shoes and MotionMetrix participants often purchase product during their visit, Stevens says the store did not install the high-tech system simply to generate footwear sales. “In fact, this has nothing to do with running shoes because shoes don’t make the runner,” he says. “Our philosophy is that running is a skill and we’re most interested in helping people move better.” n © 2022 Diversified Communications



The Technology Issue

TALKING TECH

Technology vendors provide some insight into how tech is changing the world of run specialty retail.

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his special Virtual Roundtable discussion among some of the leading technology product and service companies servicing the market brings together the worlds of technology and the personal touch that makes run specialty special. Sitting around this virtual table, these men and women touch on some of the most pressing issues facing run retailers and offer advice on how to take advantage of available technology and where they are headed from here. How would you rate run specialty retailers for their willingness to adopt new technology into their businesses? Ana Wight, Lightspeed: Modern technology has changed all aspects of running — from performance gear like shoes and apparel to wearable activity trackers that allow more athletes to monitor their progress and improve their efficiency. This is no different in the run specialty retail space. Retailers have identified the need to keep up with their customers to provide a firstclass experience. Rob Anderson, The Run Free Project: Run specialty is very willing to adopt new technology, but decision-makers’ time is their most precious commodity. Technology that makes sense must provide a tangible return on investment while minimizing the additional overhead required to realize it. Lance Muzslay, Optio: Run specialty is highly receptive to technology that tames the chaos of dealing with an overwhelming amount of data. There isn’t enough time to efficiently tackle all the buying and inventory management tasks that a store faces and they are thrilled to discover software that bestows them with superpowers. Scott Rakestraw, Upper Quadrant: If the

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SITTING AROUND THE VIRTUAL TABLE … Rob Anderson, COO, Run Free Project Kody Fitzjerrells, President, Omni Digital Group. Lance Muzslay, Founder/CEO, Optio Scott Rakestraw, Chief Innovation Officer, Upper Quadrant Amber Vanes, President, RICS Software Ana Wight, Retail GM, Lightspeed economics and business case make sense, run specialty is very willing to adopt new technology. Amber Vanes, RICS Software: Run specialty retailers work in a world where technology and innovation are expected. They are passionate people striving to provide the best experience for their customers, whether that is through the newest model of a running shoe or the ability to meet the customers where they physically are. Our job as the technology provider is to provide a solution to support those goals. Kody Fitzjerrells, Omni Digital Group: Overall, I would give them an eight out of 10. We see many, many stores adopting not just marketing technology, but also for their inventory and payment processing. What advice do you have for retailers who are perhaps a bit hesitant to turn to new technology? Rakestraw: Talk to your peers. Run specialty is a unique and connected community. No one is alone and there is a community willing to share. See what other people are doing and learn from their experiences. If you don’t know who to talk to, post to the RIA Listserv. Anderson: My advice is two-fold. First, your customers are obsessed with participating in evolving technology and they want

to do business with companies that can meet them there — not because of some deep underlying philosophical construct, but because many of these technologies make their lives easier and open up new possibilities while tending to further blend the digital and the physical. They’re going to shop and participate with retailers that exist in that space alongside them. This is particularly true for those who are 40 years old and younger. Second, seek insight from your peers about new technology that they consider to be worth investigating. You can cut through the noise by seeking recommendations from other run specialty retailers. Very few things are as powerful as an endorsement from a trusted friend. Fitzjerrells: Study the competition. Not just the shoe brands, but other industries. What do they do that you can also implement in your business? What is common in one industry may be uncommon in another and give you an edge. Vanes: Change is hard, but change is good. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Technology can not only make you more profitable, but can also help you better serve your customers — a win-win! Wight: It’s not easy to start and run an independent business, but technology can take a lot of the challenges out of business management. Most people start a business

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Talking Tech (continued) because they’re passionate about running or exercise, not about managing their digital marketing or updating their inventory. All of the automation tools can help when it comes to hiring or skill gaps in the labor market. Additionally, offering contactless payment, curbside pickup and online ordering also helps an independent retailer stay competitive in their local market. Muszlay: Efficiently operating a run specialty store is more

complicated and technical than most people bargained for. Way too much time is spent exporting data from the POS system and manipulating spreadsheets. Recognizing that there should be a better system is a good first step. So who is your target market? Vanes: Retailers in the soft goods space. We have a large presence in footwea r a nd apparel through run specialty and family footwear, but also

The Elevator Pitch ... The Run Free Project provides run specialty retailers with turnkey websites, e-commerce and mobile loyalty apps on a single platform backed by 24/7 live support. It simplifies e-commerce by automating inventory, gift cards and orders through the point-of-sale system, while exposing shoppers to a wider variety of products

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serve fashion boutiques, western and work wear, Halloween stores and orthotic retailers. Fitz jerrells: Our core customer is anyone in the run specialty retail segment with a POS system we can integrate with. These would include RICS, Lightspeed, Heartland and Retail Pro. Anderson: Our ta rget market is run specialty retailers. Project members actively shape the development roadmap for all products across the

platform, ensuring our offerings account for the evolving needs of the industry. When a retailer joins the Run Free Project, we maintain an active two-way relationship with them and we seek to apply the same customer-centric approach to our business that our members apply to theirs. Rakestraw: Run specialty retailers and brands with a passion for helping people through their running journey. Muszlay: Primarily specialty

with endless aisle options from top brands. Run Free’s mobile loyalty apps for Apple and Android devices ensure engagement through built-in gamification and push notifications while seamlessly tracking in-store and online purchases, event participation and activity. 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 exceptional customer experiences. The cloud commerce retail solution transforms and unifies online and physical operations, multichannel sales, expansion to new locations, global payments, financial solutions and integrated access to supplier networks.

© 2022 Diversified Communications



Talking Tech (continued) running stores, but Optio works just as well for comfort shoe stores and retailers in other channels. Optio currently integrates with RICS, Lightspeed and Heartland. Wight: Lightspeed retail is a fit for complex independent retailers looking to scale into omnichannel operations. What is the benefit of your technology for run specialty retailers? Fitz jerrells: The benefit is twofold. The simplest and best

way to grow sales is through existing customers. Let’s say you have 10,000 people in your POS system. What if you could get just five percent of those people to return more than they regularly would in a year’s time? That is huge to the bottom line of their business. The second part is to track how many people came back into the store and make a purchase so you as a retailer can see what is working via our dashboard. Wight: Often with specialty

The Elevator Pitch ... Optio is a suite of software that optimizes buying and inventory management as well as enhances and fills feature gaps in point-of-sale systems. It strikes a balance between automating tedious and laborious tasks while allowing for quick and efficient decision making. Essentially, Optio integrates all relevant inventory and sales data in real time.

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retailers, the operators entered the business because they’re hyper passionate about their industry — in this case, running. These operators are looking for solutions that allow them to manage their business without having to be an expert at supply chain management, inventory, accounting and other back-end responsibilities. Lightspeed retail seamlessly integrates all aspects of their operation, from in-store point-of-sale, their e-commerce platform,

inventory management across multiple locations, accounting and reporting and much more, ultimately helping to create a true omnichannel business. The Lightspeed platform allows retailers to keep their focus on providing the best customer experience possible. Vanes: Originally created 40 years ago for an independent run specialty store, the RICS solution mirrors business processes with software functionality. Our mobile POS is the solution for

RICS Software provides retailers with a technology solution that includes POS, full inventory management and reporting, integrated payments and brand connectivity between retailers and brands through product catalogs, electronic ordering and inventory availability. It enables integrations of on-line sales and stock management with in-store efforts for a full omnichannel experience.

© 2022 Diversified Communications


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Talking Tech (continued) in-store, curbside, line busting or at events. Muszlay: Optio makes revising future orders, composing at-once orders and all aspects of inventory management easy and precise. Higher profitability is achieved by driving higher inventory turn rates while spending far less time on laborious tasks. Being able to manage model stock levels by style, size and location is a powerful feature and is what drives the buying reports. For stores with multiple locations there is an extremely valuable transfer report. Anderson: The Run Free Project enables run specialty retailers to save time and money by fully automating their online presence. Our website builder gives retailers the opportunity to host their entire website, not just e-commerce, on our platform and our custom-branded

mobile apps enable retailers to provide unique omnichannel experiences while maximizing customer engagement through social selling, gamification, and push notifications. Finally, what’s next in terms of new products and upgrades? Rakestraw: We are working to resolve customer identities to measure campaign performance across platforms with new identity management innovations. And our UQ Cadence industry intelligence and data sharing platform includes new marketing and buying tools that make retailer and brand collaboration super easy. Wight: Lightspeed has made a number of acquisitions over the past few years in an effort to take our product offerings to the next level and has integrated these services into one flagship platform that offers the ability

The Elevator Pitch ... Upper Quadrant partners with more than 300 retail stores and brands to provide them with technology, industry insights and marketing services.

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to manage their business all within the Lightspeed platform. Perhaps most exciting is the recent launch of the Lightspeed B2B platform, a transformative new solution that will bring together thousands of the world’s best brands and retailers with a cutting-edge supplier network tool that integrates B2B orders directly into the point-of-sale system, eliminating the common inefficiencies of inventory acquisition and distribution. Anderson: While we will continue constantly engaging with the member community to develop new features and exciting functionality across our website, e-commerce and Relay endless aisle products, there is so much in store for the mobile loyalty apps. We’ve barely scratched the surface of potential in the mobile space and the overwhelming improvement in customer engagement across

all things app-related is and will continue to be an engine for growth for our retailers. Muszlay: A footwear model stock recommendation engine is the most recently developed feature and is very instrumental in determining the optimal distribution of stock levels in order to achieve a higher turn rate. Future plans include integrating B2B inventory data from more vendors and integrating with more POS systems. Vanes: At a high level, our technology roadmap is designed to enable greater flexibility, more connectivity and a better customer experience through our mobile point-of-sale and across our entire platform. Fitzjerrells: We are expanding our technology and making it better on all fronts — look, capabilities, more POS systems and more features that help shoe retailers grow. n

Omni Lightning is a software that helps retailers leverage the data in their POS system, helping to get customers into the store again and again through platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, email and texting.

© 2022 Diversified Communications


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The Technology Issue

Tech is Cool, But ... It is the ability to balance technology with the personal touch that makes for a great running store. / By Tom Griffen

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emember the first time you were fit for running shoes? A sales associate maybe asked you to take off your street shoes and cotton tube socks, then leaned in and stared at your naked bare feet longer than anyone ever had before. They pointed out various landmarks you never knew you had. Threw out jargony terms like high instep, voluminous midfoot and moderate heel girth. Maybe they busted out a banged-up Brannock device and confidently measured both feet, seated and standing, while mumbling cryptic whispers about your weighted arch length differential. “Did she just say I had a bunionette? you maybe thought. “What in the heck is that?” Quite possibly your shoe fitter extraordinaire was clad in shorty shorts and a snug singlet and asked you to run outside on the sidewalk or inside on a treadmill. “I want to take a closer look at your gait tendencies,” they said while squatting down behind you. Shoot, maybe they even videotaped your feet in motion and played it back a dozen times, going on and on about your late-stage pronation and hallux rigidus while you nodded in agreement — even though you had no idea what in the heck they were talking about. Ahhh, the good old days. Newer runners likely don’t remember shops before all of today’s electronic bells and whistles. These days, modern innovations such as cloud-based foot scanners, walk-across pressure plates, personalized footwear selection algorithms (and more) are ubiquitous in run specialty shops. Scads of data are rendered onto hand-held devices allowing for real time, collaborative analysis with wide-eyed customers who are likely more impressed by their animated feet on 22

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a screen than they are to learn their foot category. “Stability? Yeah, OK. But can I see my scan again, please?” Sure, high-end, cutting-edge accoutrements may be what brings your customer in for their initial visit, but it’s not why they return. In fact, their subsequent visits likely have little to do with all the fancy tech you now swear by. Rather, hard-earned customer loyalty is dependent on your willingness to sit across from each customer while taking time to make a genuine and lasting connection. The Role of Technology Tech, when utilized at the highest level in a specialty run environment, should inform fitters’ options rather than dictate an outcome. The biggest challenge these days is to not allow all the engaging tech to get in the way of the bigger picture. How your personal service makes the customer feel will always be what makes an in-store experience unforgettable. Shoe fitters need to be wildly proficient at using whatever technology your store employs. But above that, they need to be experts at foot and lower leg anatomy, barefoot analysis and biomechanics. They ought to have working knowledge of all the common injury symptoms and complaints for which customers need immediate solutions. Staff should be so adept at deciphering the bare foot that even if the power goes down on a busy Saturday of a taxfree holiday weekend during a multi-race packet pickup, their ability to knock out a string of high-quality shoe fits will not be compromised. There’s no denying that today’s technological revolution adds a vital, super cool component to the shoe fitting process. The personalization, besides being innately

The long lines of smarter-thanever connected customers, even the occasional naysayers, love interacting with programs and apps that get them closer to the perfect fit. But your eyes and ears, more than a smartscreen loaded with useful data points, should forever be the primary data gatherers.

compelling, is novel, exciting and resonant with the customer’s expectation of stellar service. The long lines of smarterthan-ever connected customers, even the occasional naysayers, love interacting with programs and apps that get them closer to the perfect fit. But your eyes and ears, more than a smartscreen loaded with useful data points, should forever be the primary data gatherers. While it has certainly made the fit process more sophisticated, technology has never solely been what makes a run shop great. And it never will be. What makes a run shop worth going back to is a chance to interact with the curious, problem-solving, well-informed and authentic you. n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


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The Technology Issue

Flexing Its Tech Carbitex expands flexible carbon plate innovations into athletic footwear and work shoes.

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echnology for footwear retailers and brands takes all shapes and in the case of Carbitex, a leader in flexible carbon fiber composites, that shape now expands across its flexible AFX technology platform with two new carbon fiber innovations. AFX Formed is focused on performance athletic footwear, while AFX anti-puncture (AFX-AP) is designed for added protection in the workwear trade market. Both are built upon the proven asymmetrically flexible AFX technology platform that is stiff in one direction and highly flexible in the other. • For the athletic performance footwear market, Carbitex AFX Formed expands upon the existing AFX flexible carbon plate material with a pre-formed angle to generate a responsive landing while allowing for a more natural toe-off. AFX Formed is designed to provide a responsive ride, bring stability to increase efficiency over time and protect the foot, all formed to align with a runner’s natural gait. Carbitex’s AFX Formed plate is customized to each brand partner’s needs and unique shoe designs to achieve peak performance in footwear. • Carbitex AFX-AP material is a multilayer composite plate that offers a high degree of performance and is the only patented plate with anti-puncture protection and asymmetric flexibility that provides comfort while preventing the foot from over-flexing and exhibits high flexibility in the other direction for more ergonomic movement. Carbitex’s latest material innovation introduces a paradigm shift in work site footwear, expanding the possibility for lighter weight work shoes that don’t require heavy protective soles and excel in safety, 24

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Its flexible AFX technology platform is helping Carbitex make further inroads into running shoes, including Saucony’s Endorphin Edge, as well as into the work boot space.

stability and all-day performance. AFX-AP passes global industry test standards (ASTM F2412-11, EN 12568:2010, CZA Z195-14) and is ideal for workers at increased risk of underfoot injury as often seen in construction, workwear and utility sectors. “AFX has become a staple in our product offering and with the evolution into AFX

Formed and AFX anti-puncture we can tap new business segments and brands looking to achieve better performance, whether that is on a construction site or on a marathon route,” says Clark Morgan, VP–business development and customer product development at Carbitex. “Expanding the properties of our patented technology continues to bring new benefits to the footwear market, allowing for a transformational shift in traditional thought on how performance and utility footwear can be constructed.” AFX Formed, as featured in the Altra Vanish Carbon, was available for the Spring 2022 season and will be featured in the Saucony Endorphin Edge trail shoe for Fall 2022. AFX-AP is Carbitex’s first foray into the work and utility footwear markets and is available to brand partners beginning Fall 2022 for in-market product release as early as Fall 2023. n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


The Technology Issue

Getting Fitted Fitted looks to redefine B2B relationships via automated orders and payments.

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itted’s connectivity platform made quite an impact late last year with its Dynamic Distribution solution that ignited retailer collaboration, optimized inventory strategy and increased profitability for both brands and retailers. Now its latest software solution launches new functionality to streamline multiple brand orders and payments in a universal cart. The idea is to connect retailers and brands in ways that were not previously available. With a universal ordering platform such as this, Fitted claims, retailers and brands can focus on improving strategy, building relationships and delivering experiences and products rather than spending valuable time on monotonous processes. Fitted’s connectivity platform enables retailers to place all of their orders and manage invoices in a single place — no more logging into various brand B2Bs. Streamlining the ordering process and unlocking payment optionality provides the ability for retailers to focus on building communities and customer experiences. Brands Jumping On the Platform Notable brands jumping on board early with Fitted’s orders and/or payments solution include Saucony, OS1st, revere, ASICS, Coros, Mizuno, Spira and Rip-It. The company makes a number of claims for its new tech: • By unlocking Fitted’s universal shopping experience, brands can see an increase in conversion rates and boost average order value by up to 22 percent. • Brands get paid immediately upfront for all retailer orders while still being able to offer payment optionality and extended terms. 25

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Fitted’s connectivity platform is attracting major brands such as Saucony, ASICS and Mizuno.

• The functionality keeps products flowing and dismantles the antiquated concept of accounts receivable. • Inventory insights provide brand

management with power ful data to proactively maximize margins, reduce outof-stock impact and improve sell-through. Revolutionizing Retail Success “Fitted is revolutionizing how retail is done so everyone can succeed,” says Monte Keleher, Fitted CEO and co-founder. “We are focused on delivering innovation to brands and retailers across the globe. “Our incredible partners are joining us in paving the way to shape the future of retail,” he adds. “We are fortunate to work with brands who not only want to grow their own business and want to help retailers flourish.” n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


The Technology Issue

Widget Wonder Technology startup offers free B2B 3D foot-measuring widget for brands and retailers.

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urgeoning AI/AR startup, Neatsy. ai, known for creating a quick and accurate AI/AR-powered, 3D foot scanning iOS app, has taken its technology to the next level with a free SDK version of its widget, for use by footwear retailers and brands. The company claims this is a first-of-itskind technology in the e-commerce space and that brands and retailers can integrate it into their sites or apps for free. Online buyers have proven to be very cautious when buying shoes online, in part because they fear they won’t fit. In fact, the “fit problem” is the biggest reason (half of the time) footwear orders are returned. This is especially crucial for small brands, for which costly returns can be catastrophic to overall margins. According to industry estimates, $30 billion is lost each year due to logistical costs, destruction of boxes, missing sneakers and other factors. This is partially due to Amazon’s “free shipping both ways” precedent, as well as convincing people to make regret-free online purchases. The COVID-19 crisis, while a boon for online shopping, only further exacerbated the online return problem. That’s where Neatsy comes in. Neatsy’s iPhone app, originally a B2C offering for sneaker shoppers looking for better fits, pivoted to a B2B model after interest from footwear brands and retailers. In effect, its 3D scanning/measuring SDK technology enables retailers to provide customers with real-time sizing and model recommendations, based on their personal measurements. In addition to offering a fast, state-of-theart UX that requires no reference objects (i.e. credit card, piece of paper), Neatsy’s technology has been shown to increase 26

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The free SDK version of Neatsy’s widget allows retailers and brands to take their e-commerce efforts to the next level by reducing returns caused by the age-old challenge of fit problems.

consumer confidence, increasing add-tocart/purchase conversions by almost 50 percent (with Neatsy 19.8 percent, without 13.3 percent), as well as decreasing online returns by almost 40 percent. Here’s how it works within a desktop: • Brands and retailers can place a QR code on individual PDP’s within their desktop website. • The customer can then scan the QR code with their iPhone, which will redirect them to the Neatsy app on their smartphone. (If they don’t already have it, the customer will quickly download the Neatsy app and then follow the concise directions to create

a full 3D map of his/her feet.) • Once scanning is completed, they will again scan the QR code on the desktop screen and effectively import their foot measurement data, to the brand or retail site, and subsequently get personal footwear recommendations provided by the widget. This UX feature will provide consumer value in a few ways: First, it gives the user a personalized fit rating for each model of a particular brand (or multiple brands if used by a broad-based retailer) based on the user’s personal data, as well as thousands of previous measurements/reviews stored by Neatsy’s algorithm. Secondly, it will recommend the customer’s optimal size(s) for each particular shoe style/model, as well as the percentage chance that a particular size will be the user’s best fit. Finally, it will provide a view of past reviews so the customer can see whether the model was comfortable enough and fit well for those with similar measurements. n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


Welcoming the Outdoors In Switchback at The Running Event invites outdoor brands, retailers, and industry leaders to build new partnerships, access actionable information, source quality products—and celebrate the greater specialty retail community.

Join us in Austin, TX this November 29 to December 1.

Get information on attending or exhibiting


Advertisement ... BRAND SHOW IN PRINT

A Focus on … SUPERFEET The Background … Superfeet is the market leader in aftermarket insoles for running, hiking, skiing and hockey and is the most worn and recommended by medical professionals. Founded in 1977, Superfeet has shaped the premium aftermarket insole industry by providing truly effective and affordable medical grade orthotics to everyday athletes. Today, it continues to prioritize quality, innovation, community and people as part of its commitment to be the best brand partner for retailers and the best insole choice for shoppers.

everyone feels safe and welcome.” Social Media Efforts … Superfeet primarily uses social to provide a daily dose of inspiration for the Superfeet community and have been having a lot of fun growing brand awareness by working with creators on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, explains Heather Knudsen, of the company’s marketing team. “We’ve also been successful with partnering with brands in the outdoor/run/ wellness category for strategic giveaways, by doing these it’s helped us grow our engagement rates tremendously.”

The 2022 Technology Story … “This month we are launching insole recommendation technology via the Volumental x Superfeet personalized fit platform,” reports Jim Wnorowski, Director of Technology and Experience. “The new insole recommendation technology gives fitters increased visibility to a customer’s pressure data and how that pressure affects the customer’s comfort. It then uses the data to deliver truly personalized insole recommendations.”

on views of the entire foot, including multiple 3D scan variables and dynamic pressure data that captures the feet in motion.

The Superfeet Difference … Wnorowski says the company knows there is more to feet than just arch height, that people have different foot dimensions and different perspectives on what they find comfortable under their feet. “Shoppers are on the move and active and their insoles should support their personal foot shape, the way they move, and their lifestyle,” he says. The Volumental x Superfeet system delivers truly personalized insole recommendations, matching customers with the right insole based

The Target Market … Since the company’s inception it has been in the market to serve people who want to get the most out of their life. “We’ve been an important part of runners’ lives for years and with more people running, walking and hiking than ever before we are doing our best to make sure they get what they need to feel comfortable in their pursuits,” says VP-U.S. sales Mike Houser. “That means diversifying the feel of our products and investing in organizations like RIDC to help create an inclusive running community where

Advice for Retailers … “Let us help you,” says Houser. “We have the tools to help customize a plan that works best for a retailer’s particular needs. We’ve always been focused on education and that is the backbone of our specialty business, so certainly training up staff is one of the main keys. We are also helping many retailers rethink their Superfeet product mix to meet the changing demands of shoppers. We are building tighter, more focused, and easily understood ranges for a lot of dealers and this has been very successful.”

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Photo: Kelly Young — @kayoungin

The Future for Superfeet … “Superfeet will continue to be the complete insole partner for retailers and shoppers,’ says Houser. “Whether retailers need market-leading insoles that deliver adaptive, balanced, responsive, or personalized underfoot feel; ground-breaking technology that brings an in-store experience that consumers and staff love; or best-in-class service and shipping — we have the complete package.” n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


#1 TR USTED INSOLE IN R UN SPECIALTY

THE RIGHT FIT FOR EVERY RUNNER NEW this summer: truly personalized insole recommendation via Volumental x Superfeet technology, making it easier than ever to expertly match the right insole to each customer. There's more to foot shape than arch height. Superfeet is your complete insole partner, with a wide range of underfoot solutions, from flexible cushioning to responsive support to made-to-order 3D-printed insoles.

sales@superfeet.com 800-634-6618 © Superfeet Worldwide LLC | All Rights Reserved


UQ DATAPOINTS

Benchmark Leaderboard

The Running Industry Association Snapshots give retailers and brands key benchmarks and trends via their inbox or the UQ Cadence platform. These powerful metrics help retailers know where to focus their efforts and also allow them to compare their metrics to the run specialty industry.

LEADERBOARD GROUPINGS ELITE ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE

View the “Leaderboard Groupings” chart to understand how we break down each category. Then, follow along with each category below to compare your metrics to the industry.

BEGINNER

75%+

50% - 75%

26% - 49%

Bottom 25%

TOP PERFORMANCE METRICS YTD TRANSACTION GROWTH

+11.5% INDUSTRY YTD ELITE

ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER

18%+ 10% - 17% 2% - 9% Under 1%

ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER

INDUSTRY YTD ELITE

ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER

23%+ 14% - 22% 6% - 14% Under 6.4%

$132.42

2.24 ELITE

+15.1% AVERAGE TRANSACTIONAL VALUE

AVERAGE UNITS

INDUSTRY YTD

YTD REVENUE GROWTH

2.42+ 2.23 - 2.41 2.04 - 2.22 Under 2.04%

INDUSTRY YTD ELITE

ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER

$142+ $133 - $141 $123 - $132 Under $123

Get Industry benchmarks in your inbox every Monday.

WEEKLY SNAPSHOTS A New RIA Member benefit Upperquadrant.com/RiA

BY UPPER QUADRANT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE RUNNING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION DataPoints is produced by Upper Quadrant by aggregating data from over 200 doors. Upper Quadrant assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in this content. The information contained this infographic is provided on “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness.


FLOOR PERFORMANCE SOCK RATIO

54%

INDUSTRY YTD ELITE

ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER

INSOLE RATIO

69%+ 46% - 68% 38% - 45.9%

ELITE

ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER

15.1%

INDUSTRY YTD ELITE

INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER

20%+ 13.9% - 19.9% 8.14% - 13.8%

13% - 16.7%

INDUSTRY YTD

9.9%

ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER

Number of net Units / Number of net Shoe Units

Under 10.4%

ELITE

Under 8.14%

HOW TO CALCULATE

10.4% - 12.9%

SHOE-TO-INSOLE

11.3%+ 6.1% - 11.2% 3.6% - 6.0%

SOCK RATIO & INSOLE RATIO

How is my sock (or insole) business?

16.8%+

ADVANCED

Under 38%

17.2%

INDUSTRY YTD

SHOE-TO-SOCK

SHOE-TO-SOCK & SHOE-TO-INSOLE How good is my team at introducing socks (or insoles) in the fitting process? HOW TO CALCULATE

Number of Shoe Transactions Including Socks (or Insoles) / Total Number of Shoe Transactions

Under 3.6%

CUSTOMER BENCHMARKS NEW CUSTOMERS

UQ STANCE

We believe that growing your customer base automatically grows your repeat customers. When you market to new customers, you’re also building memory structures within your existing customers. Awareness marketing is a win-win.

INDUSTRY YTD ELITE

ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER

41% 45%+ 39.9% - 44.9% 33.0% - 39.8% Under 33.0%

EMAIL CAPTURE RATE

INDUSTRY YTD ELITE

ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER

61% 78%+ 62% - 77% 46% - 61% Under 46%

RETURNING CUSTOMERS

INDUSTRY YTD ELITE

ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER

51% 58%+ 54% - 57% 45% - 53% Under 45%

DAYS BETWEEEN TRANSACTIONS

213

INDUSTRY YTD ELITE

ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER

Under 189 189 - 200 201 - 230 Over 230


Best of the Best

The 2022 Best Running Stores in America are revealed this week.

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ecognizing the best in the run specialty business, the 2022 Best Running Stores once again celebrates the retailers leading by example in the run specialty industry — the retailers that continually show their commitment to their customers and community. Leaders among their peers, these stores are always striving to create a stronger industry.

The winners of the 2022 Best Running Stores were announced today by Diversified Communications, organizers of The Running Event and the Best Running Stores. The four finalists will be revealed later in the year and the 2022 ceremony celebrating all of the winners and announcing the Store of the Year will take place December 1 in Austin, TX at #TRE22. Fleet Feet Lexington • Lexington, KY Fleet Feet Louisville • Louisville, KY Fleet Feet Montclair • Montclair, NJ Fleet Feet Nashville • Brentwood, TN Fleet Feet PNW • Spokane, WA Fleet Feet Richmond • Richmond, VA

1st Place Sports • Jacksonville, FL Fleet Feet Rochester • Rochester, NY A Runner’s Mind • San Francisco, CA Fleet Feet West Reading • West Reading, PA A Snail’s Pace • Monrovia, CA FootZone • Bend, OR Bull City Running Company • Durham, NC Gazelle Sports • Grand Rapids, MI Charlotte Running Company • Charlotte, NC Georgia Game Changers • Richmond Hill, GA Charm City Run • Timonium, MD Get Fit • Amarillo, TX Confluence Running • Johnson City, NY Howe2Run • Savannah, GA Dick Pond • St. Charles, IL Irun Texas • San Antonio, TX Fleet Feet Chicago • Chicago, IL Kelleys Pace • Mystic, CT Fleet Feet Davenport • Davenport, IA Lucky Road • Fredericksburg, VA Fleet Feet Fort Wayne • Fort Wayne, IN Mill City Running • Minneapolis, MN Fleet Feet Hartford • West Hartford, CT

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© 2022 Diversified Communications


Naperville Running • Naperville, IL

Running Lab • Brighton, MI

Pacers Running • Arlington, VA

Running Niche • Saint Louis, MO

Palmetto Running • Hilton Head Island, SC

Running Soles • Elizabethtown, KY

Philadelphia Runner • Philadelphia, PA

Running Zone • Melbourne, FL

Playmakers • Okemos, MI

RunWell • Edwardsville, IL

Point 2 Running Company • Newport News, VA

Rush Running • Bentonville, AR

Potomac River Running • Arlington, VA

Salt Lake Running Company • Salt Lake City, UT

Pro Bike + Run • Monroeville, PA

Shus Idaho Running Company • Boise, ID

Red Coyote Running and Fitness • Oklahoma City, OK

Skinny Raven • Anchorage, AK

Ridgefield Running Company • Ridgefield, CT

St Pete Running Company • St. Petersburg, FL

Run Hub Northwest • Eugene, OR

Terra Running • Cleveland, TN

Runner’s Edge MT • Missoula, MT

The Running Well Store • Mission, KS

Runner’s Edge NY • Farmingdale, NY

Tortoise and Hare Footwear • Glendale, AZ

Runners Forum • Indianapolis, IN

Ultra Running Company • Charlotte, NC

Running Company of Haddonfield • Haddonfield, NJ

Up and Running in Dayton • Dayton, OH

Running Etc • Virginia Beach, VA

Xtra Mile Running • Schaumburg, IL

THANK YOU TO THE INDUSTRY SPONSORS OF THE 2022 BEST RUNNING STORES

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© 2022 Diversified Communications


running shorts The Running Event Mentorship Program Brings Specialty Retailers Together RECOGNIZING THE IMPORTANCE OF peer learning and career support within the specialty retail industry, The Running Event (TRE) recently formed its TRE Peer Mentorship Program that provides opportunities for connection and advancement among specialty retail professionals leading up to #TRE22 this (November 29–December 1) in Austin, TX. Currently with 50 members representing retail stores across the U.S., the TRE Peer Mentorship Program is dedicated to facilitating meaningful relationships and supporting professional growth within the industry.

Vimazi Secures $1M in Seed 3 Funding

Vimazi, the hybrid direct-to-consumer startup that makes running shoes specifically tuned for the pace of the runner, recently completed its Seed 3 investment round of $1 million, bringing its total funding raised to $2.6 million. The Seed 3 Round consisted of all angel investors. Based in Portland, OR, and founded by running industry veterans Scott Tucker and John Zilly, Vimazi’s pacetuned design is billed as the first of its kind in the market. With its initial funding, Vimazi designed and commercialized six pace-tuned running shoe models. This new funding round allows Vimazi to bring in more inventory and activate select wholesale to fill out the brand’s ambitious hybrid 34

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Through individual and small group connection points offered throughout the year, the program welcomes professionals across job levels and functions to share insights and gain new skills. “I’ve had great mentors my entire life and Reno Running Company has grown with the help of many,” says Matthew Balzer, owner of Reno Running. “I’m honored to be a part of the TRE Peer Mentorship Program — helping others start or grow their business is a great way to give back and create a stronger channel where we all benefit.” “Time and time again, we see the tangible

– and intangible – value of retailers learning from each other and connecting over shared challenges,” says Christina Henderson, event director of The Running Event. “We’re thrilled to unite industry professionals and pave the way for continued collaboration and conversation onsite at #TRE22 this fall.” Building upon takeaways from the mentorship program and upcoming virtual discussion, the #TRE22 conference program will feature sessions focused on professional development in addition to tailored “How -to” tracks designed to provide new insight solutions, and opportunities across job levels.

approach. “Using newly developed mathematical equations of the intricate forces produced while running, we tune our shoes to deliver personalized performance that maximizes cushioning and propulsion efficiency for every runner,” explains Tucker. “Our shoes change the paradigm from the onesize-fits-all super shoe to specific pace-tuned models that work best for each individual.” Vimazi’s patent-pending technology configures foams differently for each model to deliver the desired effect. The first four models in the collection will be available to consumers in September. Two additional models will roll out in October. Vimazi currently is designing and testing five more pace-tuned shoes which are slated for launch in 2023.

British-born-and-based sports brand. Prior to Asda, Snell was Chief Commercial Officer at Wiggle, building both the commercial teams and industry relationships that underpinned the sports company’s rapid growth during his tenure. For the last two years inov-8 has been led by its founder and interim CEO Wayne Edy who, after selling the business to Descente in 2015, bought it back again in 2020.

Inov-8 Names Snell CEO inov-8 has named Mike Snell as its new CEO in October this year. Snell will leave his current role as commercial director for supermarket chain Asda in September before joining the

Running USA’s Dawna Stone Named CEO At Abbott World Marathon Majors Dawna Stone has been appointed CEO of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbbottWMM). Stone joins the organization to spearhead the delivery of AbbottWMM’s vision to inspire the world through marathons, with an ambitious program of growth, not only with new events, but also through a deeper engagement of the hundreds of thousands of runners who are beginning their journey with the ‘Grand Slams’ of participatory sport. She most recently she held the position of CEO at Running USA.

© 2022 Diversified Communications


running shorts “Running While Black,” by Alison Mariella Désir, On Sale in October

“RUNNING WHILE BLACK: FINDING Freedom in a Sport That Wasn’t Built for Us,” billed as “a searing exposé on the whiteness of running, a supposedly egalitarian sport,” and written by Alison Mariella Désir will go on sale October 18, 2022. It is, according to the publisher, “a call to reimagine the industry.” Balancing the benefits of running in her

Saucony Appoints Chief Marketing Officer Saucony has named Kathryn Pratt as chief marketing officer, effective immediately. In this role, Pratt will provide strategic development and execution of Saucony’s global branding initiatives, including brand positioning, direct-to-consumer, advertising, digital strategies, international growth initiatives and expansion of Originals, its heritage lifestyle business. Pratt reports to Saucony global brand president Anne Cavassa. “Saucony has grown tremendously over the past few years and Kathryn’s 35

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life against the realities of white supremacy in the sport and in America, Désir realized that the very existence of being a Black runner can hold the power to disrupt the white narrative while also carving out space for Black people. Tracing her own experiences within a larger discussion of race and athleticism in contemporary America, Desir offers a thought-provoking counter-history of the sport of running, showcasing for the first time its inherently problematic roots. From the original first recreational running boom in Oregon, to the unrecognized Black pioneers of the sport, to the horrific murder of Ahmaud Arbery, she shows how we got here — and where we still have to go. Bringing inequities to the light alongside her own story of transformation, Désir captures the infectious joy of movement while making an unflinching, inspiring call for change. Désir is an endurance athlete, activist and mental health advocate and is currently co-chair of the Running Industry Diversity Coalition, a Run Happy Advocate for Brooks Running, and an Athlete Advisor for Oiselle. A graduate of Columbia University for her bachelor’s and two master’s degrees, including a Master’s of education in counseling psychology, Désir

has been published in Outside Magazine, contributed the foreword for “Running is My Therapy” by Scott Douglas and founded the Meaning Thru Movement Tour, a speaking series featuring mental health experts and fitness professionals. Women Taking the Lead

Take The Lead Retreat, a gathering for women and femme of color who work in the running industry, is being planned September 25–27 in Seattle, WA by organizers Alison Desir, along with Jessica Murphy, of BibRave, and Martha Garcia, of I Am Collective. Registration for the inaugural event is opening this summer. In the meantime, interested persons can find out more and be a part of the discussion at the event’s social handles: https://linktr.ee/woctakethelead.

deep expertise in global marketing and thought leadership will help us further develop and implement strategic initiatives focused on future expansion,” says Cavassa. Pratt joins Saucony with more than 25 years of global brand-building experience, most recently at L.L.Bean, as director of brand engagement and outdoor discovery programs. During her decade-long tenure at L.L.Bean, Pratt held leadership positions, including group VP–marketing for Kenneth Cole Productions and chief of staff to the global CEO of Young & Rubicam.

© 2022 Diversified Communications


running shorts Superfeet Partners With Materialise SUPERFEET HAS ENTERED INTO A partnership with Materialise, a specialist in 3D printing solutions. Together the companies are introducing the Materialise Kinetic Suite, a tool designed to help therapists, chiropractors and sports movement specialists perform clinical assessments using a Footscan pressure plate to measure how patients move and balance and to capture gait and pressure data. The equipment provides data visualization to analyze and track a patient’s progress.

The Kinetic Suite software also recommends customized PHITS orthotics for patients. Once the design is complete, the orthotics are 3D printed and delivered to the medical practice for the patient. “The combination of motion capture technology, evidence-based analysis software and 3D printing enables fully personalized patient care”, explains Fried Vancraen, Materialise CEO. “By partnering with Superfeet, we can help medical practitioners achieve pain-free motion and optimal performance for their

patients and accelerate the digital transformation of in-clinic treatments.” “Superfeet believes in the power of technology to enhance assessment and the use of 3D printing to revolutionize the orthotic industry. By partnering with Materialise, we further our commitment to being the best orthotics partner for medical professionals by adding highly acclaimed PHITS 3D printed custom orthotics to our proven Trim-to-fit orthotic offering,” says John Rauvola, president, and CEO, Superfeet.

Kane Footwear Partners with Hilary Knight

mantra: “Dare to Be ____.” As an Olympic athlete, Knight knows the importance of building recovery into her routine. She skated in the 2022 Olympics to help USA Hockey secure the silver medal in Beijing, and has previously won eight World Champion titles. On top of scoring goals for her team, Knight has also been on a mission to empower women breaking into hockey and other competitive sports. Knight was excited to partner with a brand that shares her mission to have a positive impact on people’s lives. Together, Kane and Knight are helping athletes overcome all types of obstacles – from physical recovery to mental hurdles. “When the odds are stacked against you and everyone thinks you shouldn’t or you can’t, whatever negativity or obstacle presents itself, “Dare to Be” was such a powerful phrase that helped flip internal narratives to feel bold and empowered to overcome any obstacle in my journey forward,” Knight says. Kane brought Hilary onto its athlete team in February 2022. “Hilary embodies our ‘Come Back Better,’ motto,” John Gagliardi, CEO and Founder of

Kane Footwear, says. “After years of performing at the highest level that an athlete can, she continues to shatter records and shatter expectations of what women are doing in sports.”

Kane Footwear has released its Kane x Knight shoe, designed by hockey star Hilary Knight in honor of her journey in women’s sports. The Antique White/ Blue colors remind Knight of her childhood, and how much she’s overcome to get to where she is today, while the back hang loop features Knight’s

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Fleet Feet Chicago Acquires Fleet Feet Rockford In a recent run specialty retail consolidation, Fleet Feet Chicago has acquired Fleet Feet Rockford. “We are excited to transition ownership of Fleet Feet Rockford into the Fleet Feet Chicago family,” says Feet Fleet Rockford’s former owner Melissa Pratt. “We have seen the success and community Dave and Lisa built in the Chicago stores and are excited to have the opportunity to bring their industry knowledge and passion and build upon what we’ve already established here in Rockford.” Fleet Feet Chicago owners Dave and Lisa Zimmer, celebrating their 25th anniversary as Fleet Feet franchisees, opened their first store in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, operating seven locations across Chicago, Deerfield and Elmhurst. Adding Fleet Feet Rockford brings the franchise in Illinois.

© 2022 Diversified Communications


running shorts In-person Events Are In Demand Again, According to New Running USA Survey RUNNERS ARE HITTING the streets again while increasingly taking part in live running events and, according to Running USA’s 2022 Global Runner Survey, 66 percent of respondents plan to increase their participation in running events over the next 12 months. Twenty-nine percent will participate in the same number of events as the prior 12 months, with only five percent planning to run fewer events. For the survey, a runner is someone who participates in movement – running, jogging or walking – at any point during the calendar year and may or may not participate in organized running events. The survey found that 49 percent of runners had participated in virtual events over the last 12 months. On average, those who participated in virtual events participated in 18. A total of 18 percent chose to participate in virtual events rather than inperson events. Virtual events did not fare as well in future planning. Only 11 percent said they plan to finish more virtual events over the next 12 months; 43 percent, about the same; and 22 percent, fewer virtual races. The reason: 75 percent agreed that virtual races did not match up to a real-life experience. The study found that virtual races appealed slightly more to younger runners; among runners under 25 years old, 21 percent plan to run more virtual events in 2023 versus 11 percent for other age groups. The half marathon continues to be the favorite race event by survey participants, 37

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cited by 59 percent; followed by 5K, 17 percent; 10K, 14 percent; marathon, 12 percent; 4 mile/8K/5 mile, 10 percent; 2K/15K/10 mile, nine percent; one mile/two mile, six percent; ultra-marathon, two percent; and 20K/25K/30K, one percent. Respondents did say that their favorite event type was the traditional road race (59 percent), followed by trail (17 percent), triathlon/duathlon (10 percent), mud/obstacle (seven percent) and relay (seven percent). Asked about reasons for running, the top response was to stay in shape/stay healthy, cited by 72 percent; relieve stress, 38 percent; enjoyment, 33 percent; meet a personal challenge, 31 percent; train for a specific race, 26 percent; improve speed/endurance, 23 percent; appreciate nature, 21 percent; achieve goals/personal record, 20 percent; solitude, 19 percent; socialize, 18 percent;

overcome a health obstacle, five percent; and raise money for a cause/charity, three percent. Asked about the reasons they chose to run a certain event, the top five answers were the distance they prefer, 66 percent; event date, 54 percent; convenient location, 53 percent; place they want to visit, 31 percent; and desirable course, 28 percent. Unfortunately, cost continues to be a concern and a barrier to participation. Sixty-six percent said they would participate in more events if entry fees were lower, although 58 percent agreed they receive good value for their race entry fees. Fifty-seven wished races offered something other than a finisher T-shirt. On average, respondents spent $1748 on their running hobby over the past 12 months, with the most spending on running shoes, followed by running apparel, nutrition, and hydration.

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Nov. 29 - Dec. 1, 2022 Austin Convention Center | Austin, TX

The countdown is on.

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