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THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM

A DIVERSIFIED COMMUNICATIONS PUBLICATION

Up Tight and Personal Compression Steps It Up A Notch

PRESENTING SPONSORS

After 3400 miles and six months, our Retail on the Road correspondent finally reaches the Atlantic! Page 18. AUGUST 15, 2018 diadora.com

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RUNNING INSIGHT

TIGHT EMBRACE

Specialty retailers are looking to the compression category to help stimulate sales. / By Judy Leand

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he compression segment has been on a roller coaster ride. The category was red-hot five years or so ago, with vendors and retailers from across the sporting goods spectrum eager to cash in on the trend. But the market has since experienced a big squeeze and is now populated by fewer vendors and brands. However, for many elite runners and endurance athletes, as well as recreational enthusiasts, true compression products — ranging from specialized apparel to braces, supports and sleeves — offer a plethora of physical benefits and remain an integral part of the run specialty landscape. “The trend ended a couple of years ago and casual use of compression faded away,” observes Luke Rowe, VP of CEP Compression. “However, the U.S. running market is very diverse and compression appeals to a wide cross-section of runners as well as travelers and people who are on their feet all day.” In the current market, athletes wear compression because it’s functional, kids wear it because they seek prestige and want to emulate their heroes, and other groups such as the military, police, fire and rescue, nurses, teachers and flight attendants are looking for performance and pain relief. “Everybody has taken a stab at compression at this point. You have basic compression where there are no rules, and then there’s

The 2XU Men’s MCS Cross Training Compression Tights (SRP $129.95) feature anatomically mapped support over key muscle, tendon and fascia groups and graduated compression that promotes circulation for efficient warm-up and faster recovery post-exercise.

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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RUNNING INSIGHT

Compression (continued)

Bauerfeind’s graduated, medical-grade Sports Compression Calf Sleeves (SRP $49.99) stimulate oxygenated blood flow to and from the lower leg muscles for better endurance, less fatigue and faster recovery. CEP Run Socks 3.0 (SRP $60) will launch at retail in February 2018. They have a precisely defined compression profile for recovery and performance, enhanced heat and moisture management and proprioceptive arch and ankle stabilization.

medical-grade compression that provides real physical benefits,” says Dr. Tim Brown, Intelliskin’s inventor and chief innovation officer. At present, “Compression is typically one percent or less of retailers’ business and typically gets less than five percent of attention. Because running retailers are so focused on selling shoes, compression becomes an afterthought,” notes Rowe. But this isn’t the case at Running Central in Peoria, IL. Co-owner Adam White admits that while compression will never be a double-digit percentage of his store’s business, it’s an important category with plenty of runway. “Compression is a category that presents a continued opportunity for growth by giving us a platform to showcase our store and for the industry to provide solutions for our customers. It gives consumers a reason to seek us out as a resource and provider of knowledge,” he explains. The store’s compression sales are up 100 percent year-to-date, with full-length socks being the strongest sellers and highestturning products because they work for a wide range of customers. White advises retailers to look to vendors to form strategic partnerships and to give these vendors some latitude in providing guidance for devising the right product assortment. Confusion Is Common Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace regarding compression and what it actually does. To many consumers, compression is just another word for tight. But true compression product offers three key benefits: it improves performance, reduces the risk of injury

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and helps speed recovery. More specifically, compression enhances performance by preventing muscle vibration or oscillation, thus reducing muscle fatigue, and increases proprioception (greater awareness of body position and improved reaction time). Graduated compression also increases blood flow to the heart, which allows for the transport of more oxygen to muscles. Compression reduces injury by providing faster muscle warmup, lessening muscle soreness and muscle strain and decreasing the risk of blood pooling and Deep Vein Thrombosis. Regarding recovery, compression reduces swelling by preventing fluid retention in tissue, prevents delayed onset of muscle soreness and improves blood flow and lymphatic drainage for faster muscle repair. A Retail Opportunity For the retailer, figuring out which brands will work best for a specific clientele can be daunting. “Just because it’s tight doesn’t make it compression and just because it’s sold by the Big Three sporting goods giants doesn’t make it the best,” says Mike Rouse, owner of Frisco, TX-based Run Texas. He reports that calf sleeves and quad sleeves are strong sellers, particularly because most runners’ injuries affect the lower body. Sleeves are also popular at Orlando, FL-based Track Shack. “Our main item is calf sleeves because they allow customers to wear whatever socks they desire, and people like to coordinate their shoes and outfits,” says Nathan Adams, the store’s manager and buyer. “But for compression in general, the market is oversaturated. There are too © 2018 Diversified Communications


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RUNNING INSIGHT

Compression (continued)

IntelliSkin’s Men’s Foundation V-Tee (SRP $110) includes breathable mesh paneling, contrasting body mapping threads, hypoallergenic silicone arm cuffs and an elastic waistband. PostureCue technology, CoolCue fabric, four-way stretch and UV 50+ protection round out the package. Left: DonJoy’s Performance Trizone Calf Support (SRP $49.99) combines compression with bracing. Carbonized bamboo fibers regulate temperature and eliminate odors. At right: The Enerskin E75 Men’s Leg Compression Sleeve Set (SRP $150) provides full coverage from thigh/quadriceps through calf, supporting key muscles and tendons that are relied upon by the knees.

many brands out there and we only have so much real estate.” From a material and design standpoint, key differentiators within the compression category include fabric quality, cut, construction and, of course, degrees of compression. The latest and greatest products boast such features as targeted and zonal compression, body mapping, seamless designs, advanced cooling and moisture management technologies and the use of sustainable materials. For example, Intelliskin uses highly engineered fabrics with different stretch characteristics that mimic the effects of kinesiology taping. The brand also uses proprietary Cool Jade fabric made from recycled jade stone to cool the skin. OS1st’s Compression Zone Technology (CZT) provides targeted zones of compression to help treat and prevent typical running injuries and conditions. Both Enerskin and ZeroPoint have FDA approval and while Enerskin has developed silicone taping that is mapped for support, ZeroPoint utilizes sustainable Econyl nylon sourced and remanufactured from discarded fishing nets taken from the world’s oceans. CEP makes all of its products in its own factories and will begin manufacturing in North Carolina in 2019. You Look Good! While compression products are certainly functional, there’s no reason that they can’t also flaunt some lighthearted graphics, particularly on socks and sleeves. “People want compression benefits, but they also like to wear something fun,” says Ze’ev Feig, Zensah’s founder and CEO. The company offers quirky designs

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such as unicorns and an assortment of food prints, including watermelons, pizza and tacos, to get consumers into compression. According to Feig, many consumers buy a Zensah leg sleeve or sock for the design and then realize they feel better using the product. This approach is fueling growth and has prompted Zensah to offer nine prints per month. Enerskin is also looking to develop more stylish options, particularly in the women’s market. The brand now has test groups and brand ambassadors to provide feedback and plans to introduce products and colors that will complement women’s bodies. Challenge Accepted Although the compression category is holding steady, vendors and retailers still see some big challenges, not the least of which are high prices and consumer confusion. As for pricing, “Stores need to challenge their compression vendors to provide research, have MAP agreements and educate them on how to make this a successful category. The running consumer is coming into a running store to get exert advice, and if they get that advice, they will pay for a better product,” says Josh Higgins, president,of ING Source/OS1st. According to Craig Berounsky, Bauerfeind’s VP–sales, high prices reflect product value. “It’s not good to carry the same low-priced items found in drug store or mass market channels,” he remarks. Charlie Setzler, VP–consumer branding at DJO Global, suggests that pricing comes down to the particular retailer and what’s on offer. “The customer has a need and looks at the price range, but © 2018 Diversified Communications


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RUNNING INSIGHT

Compression (continued)

LP Support’s seamless Women’s L236Z Core Support Compression Tank (SRP $79) is made of breathable, wicking material and targets compression around shoulders medial scapula, back, abdomen and lower back.

Left: The OS1st full-length FS4+ socks (SRP $49.99) target plantar Fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis and heel/arch pain by providing zoned medical grade support, left/right anatomical shape, seamless construction, moisture management and 360-degree blister protection. Right: The ZeroPoint Pro Racing Compression Socks (SRP $59.90) are designed for intense sports and endurance activities and have thin, extra padded support on the back for the calf muscles.

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Left: Skins Women’s DNAmic Core Long Tight (SRP $99.99) offers gradient compression technology, biomechanically positioned panels and seams that support and stabilize muscles, and a warp knitted mix of yarns for controlled compression. At right: Skins Men’s DNAmic K-Proprium Long Tights (SRP $169.99) feature DNAmic Gradient Compression technology to boost muscle oxygenation, stabilize active muscles and reduce blood lactate build-up.

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© 2018 Diversified Communications


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RUNNING INSIGHT

Compression (continued)

CEP notes that 150 retail partners now have CEP product walls in-store, which has helped the brand grow 30 percent at retail from 2017 to 2018.

usually isn’t educated enough to make the right decision. There’s a sea of products and stores need an employee to explain the solutions. You can’t buy on price alone,” he says. And then there’s the 500pound gorilla (read: the Internet), which is putting a lot of pressure on brick-and mortar. Opinions here are decidedly mixed, with some embracing the Internet as a tool to help educate consumers and others scorning it as a direct competitor. “It comes down to how gullible consumers are. It’s important to look at what others say about the product, not just what companies are saying. Reviews are more important than testimonials; while reviews are more candid,

testimonials are more canned,” says Intelliskins’ Dr. Brown. Despite its challenges, compression is here to stay and can offer retailers a meaningful way to stimulate sales via more personalized service that will build customer loyalty. After all, says Nikki Beal, 2XU’s GM of North Americasales, “It’s not just your feet that are running — your body is the engine and it’s important to take care of it. Compression wear isn’t just clothing, it’s equipment that offers a lot of medical benefits.” Adds Bauerfeind’s Berounsky, “The key is education and having a staff member in the compression area of the store. You have to be able to understand compression in order to sell it.” n

Using Compression To Squeeze Out Profits Here are some pointers from the experts on how to maximize compression product sales. • “Everyone has a limited understanding of compression, but customers generally just have surface knowledge and they need help. If the retailer has a knowledgeable staff, it will be easier to upsell according to benefits and features.” — Charlie Setzler, VP Consumer Bracing, DJO Global • “Staff education, including the use of POP, brochures and PowerPoint presentations, is important. We also send samples to the sales staff for testing, which helps them to tell the consumer what the product does.” — Theresa Wong, EVP, LP Support • “Retailers who reach out to local medical partners can benefit with new customers and increased sales.” — Craig Berounsky, VP Sales, Bauerfeind • “Merchandising is key for both sell-through and consumer education. Adequate POP and

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display is crucial not only for shop space, but is also alluring to the consumer.” — Anthony Leon, Sales and Marketing Manager, Skins • “Compression, especially socks and sleeves, should be sold near footwear. Tights should also be there, especially due to their increased blood fl ow, recovery and muscle support benefits.” — Nikki Beal, GM, North America-Sales, 2XU • “Get the product onto a mannequin or foot form to demonstrate it to consumers. Also, tell the consumer what the product is and what it does, and use signage.” — Luke Rowe, VP, CEP Compression • “Compression is usually worn underneath other garments, but most stores segregate compression; it should be integrated with other categories in the store. This can help increase sales not only of compression products, but of other products as well.” — Luan Lai, PR Director, Enerskin

• “Education of floor staff and the consumer with 8”x10” POP items are some of the best [tools] at this stage of market penetration. Compression wear gives the retailer something new to sell that is higher retail value, more margin dollars and a better consumer feature/benefit menu.” — David Currier, CEO, ZeroPoint • “Don’t carry too many brands and really understand the differences between the ones that you do carry.” — Josh Higgins, President, ING Source • “Study up on the category. Quality is a key differentiator and there will be a good/better/ best in the market; retailers need to know the differences.” — Dr. Tim Brown, Inventor and Chief Innovation Officer, Intelliskin • “At retail, staff turnover is a problem so it’s important for companies to keep retailers up-to-date on messaging, and to help create excitement about the performance attributes of compression. Clinics and fun runs also help.” — Ze’ev Feig, Founder & CEO, Zensah n

© 2018 Diversified Communications


RUNNING INSIGHT

Get PHIT Running specialty can reap the benefits of the passage of the PHIT Act. An interview with PHIT America founder Jim Baugh.

T

he passage last month of the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act by the U.S. House of Representatives, which would allow the use of pre-tax savings accounts for physical activity-related expenses such as race registration fees and other healthrelated costs such as gym memberships, fitness classes and personal trainers, is a potential huge boon for the running specialty business. 12

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With the measure moving to the Senate for further consideration – the most likely timeframe is November/December 2018 – the industry is putting on a full-court lobbying press. “Though we have a lot of work to do before the bill becomes law, we are very happy with this progress and grateful to our congressional champions for their leadership,” says Tom Cove, president and CEO of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association

(SFIA), which has lobbied hard for the bill. By allowing the use of pre-tax dollars to pay for expenses such as youth sports fees and health club dues, PHIT effectively gives consumers a 22–37 percent discount on activity costs. PHIT will help families with various activity costs, including payto-play in schools, organized team sports and individual activities and clinics. Also spearheading the PHIT Act effort has been PHIT America founder Jim Baugh.

© 2018 Diversified Communications


RUNNING INSIGHT

PHIT Act (continued)

“This Inactivity Pandemic is killing the roots of the running industry. Leaders, investors and everyone must wake up. Do we really think Americans are going to put down their smart phones and tablets?”

Running Insight: You make a Rodney Dangerfield reference in your news release on physical inactivity. Why do you think the running industry doesn’t respect the Inactivity Pandemic? Jim Baugh: Most bigger companies are caught up in their quarter-to-quarter and profitsnow thinking and not worried about the long term. We also have some owners who only care about the short term as they plan to sell or spin off their company soon. Many companies are not looking at the roots of physical activity. They look at what they can do to create new participants who are good customers today. There is also a sad trend I have seen over the last 20 plus years.

Years ago, we had great leaders for our industry. Now, we have leaders of brands. Look at the leaders on the boards of the trade associations. They are lawyers and not CEOs of their companies. We need people to realize we survive and grow as an industry when people are playing sports and being physically active. And, there are a few who just don’t get it. They think we will always have people participating. But, with the trends that you see in the report, it is obvious, physically inactive people don’t buy sports and fitness products. Why does PHIT America publish this report? This Inactivity Pandemic is killing the roots of the sports, running and fitness industry. Leaders, investors and everyone must wake up. Do we really think Americans are going to put down their smart phones and tablets? Do you think the social media and electronics industry is going to start making less fun, less engaging, and less addictive products? Or, will schools suddenly start putting daily P.E. back in our schools? Hell no! The competition is

going to get stronger. And, the running industry must respond. It must go back and rebuild the roots of the industry where kids and everyone learns basic physical activity skills. When schools started to take P.E. out of our schools, that started the gradual erosion of the industry’s future. The running industry is not driven by the professional leagues or pro athletes. Look at what you see on TV and you can’t escape sports, but that is entertainment. In fact, with the exception of maybe one or two sports, every sport you see on TV is declining in participation. We have to remember every participant was a beginner one day. And, where did they learn those basic skills? At home and in schools. PHIT America produced this report because someone has to expose the real story. The industry doesn’t like to hear bad news and that may be because so much of the business is controlled by public companies. What is your biggest takeaway on the topic of sports participation? We have to fix the sports

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JIM BAUGH, PHIT AMERICA

Running Insight caught up with Baugh during this lobbying efforts for his thoughts on the future of the PHIT Act and what running specialty retailers and their vendors. His comments also come on the heels of the publication of PHIT America’s “Inactivity Pandemic Report 2018,” which takes a close look at the role inactivity is playing in America.

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RUNNING INSIGHT

PHIT Act (continued) The “Inactivity Pandemic Report 2018” is available at IP.PHITAmerica.org and is a must-read report for everybody who works in the sports, running and fitness industry. There are two editions: Impact on America and Impact on the Sports & Fitness Industry. FOR MORE ON PHIT AMERICA: IP.PHITAMERICA.ORG

participation issue with children. Overall, team sports core participation is down significantly in the last five years. More and more children have not developed their basic athletic skills or have the confidence to run, catch, throw, kick, or even stand on one leg. When they grow up, they will not be runners or sports and fitness participants – mainly because of the lack of daily P.E. in our local schools. I have studied this issue for 20 years and there are two places where children learn how to be physically active. One is from their family members. The second is at school — through physical education programs. Why is PHIT America so focused on P.E. in schools? I would like the running industry to look at what has happened in schools in another way. Go back in time to about 20 or so years ago when every school had P.E. and most schools actually had daily P.E. But, today, approximately 50 percent of schools don’t have any P.E. That means that we have lost half of our training grounds. At least 50 percent of today’s kids are not being taught the necessary skills or have the confidence needed to play a sport. Is it possible the closure of our training grounds has influenced today’s kids to be less physically active? Or has the closure of our training grounds played a role in the closure of retailers such as The Sports Authority, City Sports, MC Sports? I know it has. What else jumps out for you? The fact that there is a major switch from core (committed) sports participants to casual

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sports participants is devastating. Core sports participants account for 80 percent of all purchases and spend far more than casual participants. This switch from core to casual has cost this industry $20.5 billion in the past five years -- almost a 2.5 percent drop. The running industry must make sure there are good pathways for beginners to stay physically active while having fun. What do you think of the campaigns some of the big companies have in order to get more youngsters active or playing sports? Well, someone has to ask these questions: Are they making a difference? Are they really just PR programs for their brand? What is their cost per participant? I bet it isn’t close to the PHIT America formula, which is less than $10 to get a kid physically moving while at school. A r e n’t s om e of t h e bi g brands doing well even in this environment? Yes, but take a close look at the numbers and you will see they are selling more fashion products — footwear and apparel. How much of this product is used by actual sports participants? Everything we hear in running and fitness is positive. Is this the real success story? Most of the top 20-growth activities are fitness-related, including running. However, you have to look at the share numbers. Even fitness activities are losing out to non-sport or non-fitness activities. Isn’t the PHIT Act, when it passes, going to solve this

physical inactivity issue? The PHIT Act will help if, and when, it passes. It will help get people physically active if they have an HSA or FSA account, which most Americans, especially low-income families, do not. I have a little warning for the sports and fitness industry. If the PHIT Act passes, much of the success the industry will have with it will be totally dependent on how the industry markets this new tool. But, we must remember, the PHIT Act doesn’t help fix the roots of the industry. We need to focus on kids learning physical activity skills in schools or from family members. Nothing replaces the need for this. How do people and companies get involved with PHIT America and what can they do to help with the passage of the PHIT Act? Easy. Contact me at Jim@ PHITAmerica.org. We have levels of support for every size company. Be ready to invest. Maybe you can help us in other ways, too. Can you help distribute or sponsor our new 28-minute documercial? If you really want to help get kids physically moving, let’s talk. What if some big company wants to take this over or become a major player? You want to make the big investment? Contact us. We have built a fabulous program that works and can enhance a company’s image. It is the perfect CSR program. It is helps kids, works in communities, has been tested, rolled out, and fine-tuned through the past five years. I am really proud of our program. n © 2018 Diversified Communications


RUNNING INSIGHT

The Journey Ends A 205-day cross-country stroll ends in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island. / By Tom Griffen

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hen I began this journey, I thought I’d reach the Atlantic somewhere in New England. Like, Maine, probably. I know a guy in Bar Harbor who offered a finish line lobster feast. Figured I’d end there, crash at his place and fatten up a bit, then return home to my normal life in North Carolina. But instead, change, a major theme of this journey, showed its face again. At this point I had learned to expect it. Embrace it, even. Fact is, I had long since scrapped most of the original plans I made from the comfort of my blue plaid couch, way back when. My day-to-day route was in constant flux. It only took a local’s suggestion, however uncertain, for me to jump off course. A satellite view on Google maps was enough impetus to take the more circuitous, though safer, way. Add an extra day off here and there. Throw in accumulated delays caused by minor injuries. Suddenly my pre-supposed six-month timeline no longer held water. I knew I would complete my walk across America, but I needed to dial in the specifics of when and where. Mostly so I could set a definitive trajectory, but also so others might arrange their busy schedules to join me for the finale. Reaching the Atlantic would, undoubtedly, be monumental. But it would certainly be more fun if I could share the moment with others.

Tom Griffen comes to Coney Island, land’s end (photo by Marti Mattia).

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Change of Plans So I found a comfortable spot under a shady tree, busted out my maps and formulated something in stone. My conclusion: I would end at Coney Island, NY, on July 25th. Until that point, the plan was to muscle into Washington DC, visit Chris Farley, owner of Pacers Running, maybe land (another) spot on his killer podcast, Pace the Nation, then beeline north through a mess of more large cities: Baltimore, Philadelphia, Trenton, Newark, and eventually New York. The more I looked at this route, the less © 2018 Diversified Communications


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RUNNING INSIGHT

Retail on the Road (continued)

After walking for more than 3400 miles, the author arrives in Times Square, New York City (photo by Andrew Hume).

it excited me. So, at the deciding intersection, I pulled the rug out. Opted for Civil War battlefields and Amish country instead of perilous, and not fun, big-city approaches. I now applaud my foresight. Officially, I reached the Atlantic seaboard on July 22 at Sandy Hook, NJ. And even though I could hear the waves crashing, I refused to let any part of my body touch the water. I stubbornly resisted “finishing,” sticking with my plan to take a tourist ferry from the Gateway National Park campground to East 35th Street in Manhattan. I still had a couple days before embarking on the final stretch. So I waited patiently on the rainy peninsula, and even met some new friends (who happened to 20

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be nudist swingers, but that’s a story for a different magazine). The ferry sped to Manhattan. The hulking New York skyline magically appeared into view as we neared the Statue of Liberty. My brother-in-law met me at the port and we walked back to his place in Harlem, making sure to hit a few iconic sights along the way. That night, I saw my partner, Katie, for the first time in half a year. She’d come to walk the last day with me. I also got word that a few others would join up at some point. I couldn’t believe it was all coming to an end. The 20 miles between Harlem and Coney Island disappeared in a flash. Near the end I had a bit of a posse. Like that running scene in Forrest Gump. A n d su d d e n ly, w it h o ut

warning, though I knew it was close, the space filled before me. The ocean. I took a makeshift pathway on the sand towards it. Walking turned to running. The wind grew louder, stronger. My straw hat reeled. Then I was alone, walking into the shallows, shoes still on. The whitewash got deeper. And deeper. I heard myself ecstatically screaming, my arms embracing the sky. I dived in. Kept my eyes closed. Silence. I rose up, gasped. Turned back towards the beach. I made it. Sharing the Love Dripping, I returned to my people, hugged them all, sharing my drenched ending. My face salty with tears and a kiss of sea. We popped open a bottle of

champagne. Emptied it with my heart still racing as the moment disappeared. And just like that, the walk was over. 205 days, 3410 miles, and seven pairs of shoes. Frankly, it should have been eight pairs, because the ones on my feet were dead. So dead that for the first time in six months I had blisters on both feet. As we walked together to a pizza joint on the boardwalk, I announced, “Man, I can’t wait to go to Brooklyn Running Company! I need me some new shoes!” Within 48 hours of completing my walk across America, I was cleaner than I’d been in months and chillin’ in the hippest part of Brooklyn. Although out-cooled by everyone I passed, I was on my way to meet the crew at a funky © 2018 Diversified Communications


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RUNNING INSIGHT

Retail on the Road (continued)

Tom’s route across America (red and blue marks different states) -- starting in LA and ending in Brooklyn.

run shop. Inside I stirred with the pride of accomplishment. But just like any big thing – a race, a life event, a long-awaited vacation – the end goal is a buzzkill if you didn’t enjoy the process that got you there. I most certainly did.

Brooklyn Running Company: Brooklyn, New York Brooklyn Running Company is tucked just off Bedford Avenue, one of the main drags in bustling Williamsburg, the forever hot spot in the heart of the borough.

It is co-owned by two lifelong runners, Matt Rosetti and Matt Byrne, who also happen to be high school XC buddies from Scranton, PA. Together they divide their time among three specialty run shops:

Scranton Running Company (opened in 2010), one-year-old Valley Running Company (Forty Fort, PA), and this Brooklyn run boutique, nicely situated in a building that dates to the 1800s. Exposed brick and a cast iron facade give nod to the original architecture, while soft lighting and artfully stained natural wood balance the aesthetic with modern flair. The messaging on the street-facing window reads, “Beginners Are Our Specialty.” And after speaking with marketing and events manager Steve Crnic, it’s evident the statement isn’t just retail lip-service. Brooklyn Running Company opened in 2013 and their first order of business was to get acquainted with the clientele. “We wanted to make sure we were curating a brand and inventory that caters to the needs of the community,” Steve says, pointing to the shoe wall, directing

Marketing and events manager, Steve Crnic and shoe fitting pro, Lexi Lang. At right, the Brooklyn Running Company storefront.

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my attention to an abundance of black and white footwear options. “We want to carry functional options, but also items that customers love to wear.” Just like at any good run shop, customer service and product knowledge is key. But Brooklyn Running Company takes things a step beyond a quality fitting. “We aren’t here to pressure people into a process,” Steve says. “We’d much rather work with them and offer not only what they need, but also what they want.” How do they do this? By not taking themselves too seriously. And by allowing genuine conversation to lead the way. Steve started at the shop while he was still a student at NYU, studying Media and Communication while competing on the cross-country and track teams. One of his coaches, Jon Phillips, who was also the local Brooks rep, got him interested in the business. Not only has he been able to use his degree to help grow the business, he’s philosophically aligned with the store’s core beliefs. “We do things in a particular way because we believe it matters,” he says. “We build community through direct collaboration.” Steve insists the customer’s experience should be “delightful” and that each interaction should “make their lives a little better.” Steve’s suggestion for a good place to run on your next trip to BK — the Williamsburg Bridge. “The minor incline and decline is where everyone gets their hill training,” he says. Also, the bike path that follows Kent Avenue. Or even the Navy Yard. But regardless, Williamsburg is a great starting point for all things Brooklyn, he says. © 2018 Diversified Communications

Brooklyn Running Company serves a lot of out-of-towners — the sort who visit run shops located in their vacation spots. That’s why the store’s RunBK Apparel line is so hot. But really, it’s probably more than that. Brooklyn Running’s eclectic team of positive people makes everyone feel at home in the charming, yet unique space. The impressive team, consisting of a stylist, a mountain climber, a military veteran, a social worker and an actor, makes it easy to genuinely connect with pretty much anyone. Before I left, I asked Steve to fit me for shoes. I could not deny the allure of the colorless shoe wall. My beat-up Hoka Bondis had seen better days. But 600 miles in a month will do a number on a set of kicks. Steve shifted into staffer mode and I became his customer. His approach, however, was schtickless. And he found me an option that reminded my feet what comfort felt like. Heaven. I left my journey’s final pair of shoes behind. Advised Steve not to touch them. They’d reached the point where the stink was like glue. He carried them off using a merchandising hook from some sock packaging. Then he gave me one of the store’s RunBK tees. Afterwards I strolled confidently down the popular drag and felt hip for the first time on my journey. Rocking my sweet new shoes, a fresh pair of socks and a funky shirt that made me feel extra fit. The visit was a delight. One that helped capitulate my cross-country walk. I walked more than 3000 miles to visit the Brooklyn Running Company. Think that’s too far to go for an epic experience? Well...fuhgeddaboudit! n

About the author Tom Griffen is a storyteller with a long history in specialty run. Since January 2, 2018, he walked across America. He started in Los Angeles, headed to Phoenix and El Paso, passed through San Antonio, Austin, Little Rock, Huntsville, and Chattanooga, cleared Gettysburg and Philadelphia, Sandy Hook and Manhattan. After 205 days and seven pairs of shoes, he finished the 3410-mile journey in Coney Island, New York. Along the way, he’s been stopping at run shops within range of the route then including the visit in a Running Insight article that celebrates the shop’s story. You can backtrack his journey on Instagram @tomswalkacrossamerica, or listen to his podcast, My Walking Life, on iTunes or wherever you podcast. Want Tom to come to your area to tell his amazing story? Give him a holler. It’ll be unforgettable.

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running shorts Under Armour Returns To Austin Marathon

U

nder Armour will once again partner with High Five Events as the presenting sponsor of the Austin Marathon, which will take place on February 17, 2019. As part of the partnership, Under Armour will outfit 18,000 participants and 2500 race volunteers with its HeatGear running shirts and provide the 30-member Austin Marathon pace team with the newly designed UA HOVR performance running footwear and race kits. Under Armour’s community involvement will deepen as Austin Marathonrelated events are confirmed in the months leading up to race day. “Under Armour is thrilled to be back

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as presenting sponsor of the Austin Marathon — it is one of the highlights of the year for us and for the running community,” says Josh Rattet, GM of Under Armour Run. “The city of Austin and its dedicated running community truly offer an unprecedented experience for runners from all over the world, and UA Run is proud to support them,” he adds. The 2019 event will mark the Austin Marathon’s 28th year running in the capital of Texas, attracting runners from all 50 states and more than 30 countries. Implus Acquires SKLZ

Adding to its diverse

© 2018 Diversified Communications

brand portfolio that already includes footwear brands such as Sof Sole, Balega, A i r p l u s , Tr i g g e r Po i n t , FuelBelt a nd Spenco, Implus recently acquired Pro Performance Sports and its SKLZ multisport athletic performance and skill development training brand. In conjunction with the transaction, Implus will be adding a new satellite office in Carlsbad, CA, to support growth into the new category. SKLZ will operate as a division of Implus, which is majority owned by Berkshire Partners, a Boston-based investment firm. The deal

represents the eighth acquisition for Implus since Berkshire’s investment in the company in April 2015. Asics Profits Fall

Asics reported that its global earnings fell 70.7 percent in the six months ended June 30 as sales slid 5.4 percent. Specifically in the American region, sales decreased 22.4 percent (a decrease of 19.9 percent using the previous fiscal year’s foreign exchange rate) due to weak sales in the U.S. European region sales increased 4.2 percent due to steady sales in certain emerging-market countries.

Telic Donates Shoes

Telic recently announced that it has donated several thousand pairs of shoes to less fortunate children in South Africa, struggling U.S. military veterans in Michigan, victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and to other worthy causes over the past two years. “It is the nature of EVA type footwear manufacturing that you end up with extra pairs that miss the mark on being acceptable for commerce, such as inaccurate sizing, color or cosmetics, but these are still great shoes,” says Aaron Azzarito, VP–marketing. n

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Running Insight 8.15.18  

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