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6 BROOKS Targets Sales Of $300 Million In 2011 7 CANADIAN TIRE Acquires Forzani Group Ltd.

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8 ASICS AMERICA Sees 18.4 Percent Revenue Hike In Fiscal 2011

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FEATURES 10 SGB QUESTION Is The Barefoot/Minimalist Footwear Movement A Long-Term Trend Or Short-Term Fad? 14 TOM RAYNOR Inducted into The NSGA Hall of Fame 18 THE FOUNDATION OF WOMEN’S ATHLETICS As More Women Join The Active Ranks, The Sports Bra Industry Stepped Up To Give Them Improved Design, Technology, And A Better Overall Experience



Copyright 2011 SportsOneSource, LLC. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed by writers & contributors to SGB PERFORMANCE are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. SGB PERFORMANCE is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or artwork. Articles appearing in SGB PERFORMANCE may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. SGB PERFORMANCE is published monthly by SportsOneSource, LLC, 2151 Hawkins Street, Suite 200, Charlotte, NC 28203; 704-987-3450. Send address changes to SGB WEEKLY, 2151 HAWKINS STREET, SUITE 200, CHARLOTTE, NC 28203; 704-987-3450.

WEEK 1120



BROOKS TARGETS SALES OF $300 MILLION IN 2011 With its momentum only accelerating in 2010, Brooks Sports is projecting revenues to grow 26 percent to “just under $300 million” in 2011. That forecast came during an exclusive SGB interview with Brooks President and CEO, Jim Weber, last week in New York City. In 2010, Brooks revenues jumped 19 percent to about $240 million globally. Footwear grew even faster, up in the mid-twenties, he said. So far, Weber said the company is exceeding an aggressive tenyear growth plan set out in early 2010 that called for revenues to reach $1 billion by 2020. “Our backlogs are up in the 30-to-40 percent range in every product line and in every geography we have,” said Weber. “So the business is super healthy. And while the overall category is healthy, we’re growing faster than the category.” The growth in 2010 was well above plan considering that the backlog entering 2010 was flat. Weber credits the performance partly to Brook’s ability to get back into product; that included absorbing “out of control” air freight costs to ensure timely deliveries. “We really scrambled last year,” he said. “Our team on the operations side and in customer service delivered better than anyone and we’ve heard that from a lot of retailers.” The progress reflects strong demand for Brooks’ products and the response to its “Run Happy” marketing campaign and run positioning. On the product side, Brooks holds the leading position in the specialty run account’s (SRA) channel in both stability and motion control, said Weber. The brand also has “some great neutral shoes coming with our Glycerin and Ghost updates” that are expected to expand share in that category. Weber particularly expects a monster payback from the major investment it’s putting behind its PureProject collection that addresses the minimalist opportunity and launches in October. While much of the media focus has been on “shoe/no shoe,” Brooks felt the barefoot movement more directly addresses two running experiences. One is the “Float” experience that calls for more support and is represented by Brooks’ current models: Ghost, Glycerine, Trance and Adrenaline GTS series. Webber described this run experience as one “where you literally want to throw your shoes on, put the iPod on, and just cruise.” The other “Feel” experience addressed by PureProject is for runners who want to feel the road or trail to be more “totally engaged in their run.” Moreover, much like a runner might have a trail shoe and a road shoe depending on the surface he or she planned to run on, he 6


Jim Weber, Brooks President and CEO

believes Float and Feel represent a two-shoe opportunity depending on the desired run experience. “Depending on the day, you might be in the mood to push it hard and want to work the run because you’ve got to work harder in this [Feel] kind of shoe. On other days you might want to ‘cruise’ with a Float model. We’re super excited about this. This is performance product. There are very unique technologies here and we think the runner is going to experience it not only in the store when they first put the shoe on, but in mile five it’s going to be like, ‘Wow!’ That’s what we’ve gone for so we’re really jazzed about it. And the product is gorgeous.” Weber believes PureProject will allow Brooks to reach a younger runner looking for more of the “Feel” experience. Weber elaborated, “From a design point of view we’ve taken this significantly younger and bolder. That was part of the goal as well. We are not going to get old as a brand. Running transcends age. We get a chance to introduce our brand to a lot of new runners and a lot of younger runners and this line is going to give us the spirit to do that.” A recovery area has been apparel, which was impacted in 2009 and early 2010 amid the downturn with other apparel brands but its started hitting double-digit gains in late 2010. Weber projects its apparel business will be up 30-to-40 percent this year. He said, “We repositioned it about a year and a half ago and it’s doing very well. Our apparel backlogs are up in the 40-to-50 percent range now.” Particularly doing well is Brooks’ Nightlife Reflective Collection not only in apparel but in accessories such as caps and gloves which Weber described as “actually a big business for us.” Weber also believes Brooks is benefiting from its positioning as the most running-focused brand in the running space, including its distribution focused on reaching runners. The primary focus is on three channels: SRA, which represented 54 percent of pairs sold Continued on next page

Bob Sartor, CEO

Canadian Tire Acquires Forzani In a bid to create “Canada’s ultimate authority in sports,” Canadian Tire reached an agreement to acquire Forzani Group, Ltd., Canada’s largest sporting goods chain, in a friendly-deal valued at Canadian $771 million (U.S. $800 mm). Forzani Group, in its last fiscal year, had total revenues of more than $1.4 billion from 500-plus stores. Its corporate banners include Sport Chek, SportMart, Atmosphere, National Sports, Athletes World and Hockey Experts. Its franchises include Sports Experts, Intersport, Nevada Bob’s Golf and Fitness Source. Canadian Tire sales in 2010 were about $10.3 billion at more than 1,200 stores. With the addition of Forzani, the company will have more than 1,000 outlets carrying sporting goods. On a conference call, Stephen Wetmore, Canadian Tire’s president and CEO, said his company is already the “ultimate authority” in automotive, hardware, outdoor tools and camping, among other categories. But Forzani particularly provides Canadian Tire with access to athletic footwear and performance athletic apparel. More than 70 percent of Forzani’s sales are in athletic apparel and footwear, with the balance of sales in sporting hard goods that complement Canadian Tire’s assortment with very little overlap. Wetmore particularly emphasized how Forzani provides Canadian Tire with a presence in malls and access to a younger, 18-to-35 year old consumer segment. “Canadian Tire has always been strong in youth and adult segments but a customer that eludes us is the younger demographic that shops the country’s malls and urban centers,” said Wetmore. “We know most parents buy kids their first bike at Canadian Tire, perhaps the second and maybe the third. But as kids get older their tastes change. Not only do they want more expensive bikes, they want all the apparel and gear that goes along with their cycling activities and that’s where Forzani comes into play.” “Our employees are some of the most knowledgeable and passionate in the Canadian sporting goods space,” said Bob Sartor, CEO, Forzani Group, Ltd, who is expected to step down after the transition. “This transaction will enable us to move forward and provide our people with exciting new growth opportunities as part of a larger, more diverse organization.” The transaction is valued at Canadian $26.50 per share, a 50 percent premium on the closing price of Forzani’s stock on Friday, May 6. The deal was announced on May 9. Anticipated annualized savings are expected to be Canadian 25 million in 2012, increasing to a run rate of approximately Canadian 35 million per year by 2014. Canadian Tire intends to operate the Forzani retail banners as a separate business unit, similar to Mark’s and Canadian Tire Financial Services. ▲

in 2010; the sporting goods channel, 10 percent; and athletic specialty (primarily Finish Line), 5 percent. Internet actually represented its second largest channel at 14 percent, although Weber noted that Brooks had terminated around 40 online retailers in the last two years that were not positioning Brooks as a performance brand. Department stores, primarily Nordstrom, made up 3 percent of sales. The family channel, consisting of closeouts, accounted for 3 percent; and Other, 10 percent. Also benefiting the company is its more lighthearted “Run Happy” marketing campaign that Weber believes helps the brand better resonate and connect emotionally with the running lifestyle that many competing brands focusing on a performance message. “We always start with science and serious gear. It’s a glass half-full message with ‘Run happy spirit.’ It’s interesting and no one else is doing what we’re doing,” said Weber. Beside revenue and profit growth, Brooks’ recent success was confirmed by the brand becoming one of three to be featured in the brochure for the recent shareholder meeting of its parent, Berkshire Hathaway, the investment arm of Wall Street legend Warren Buffet. “Warren basically put us in there, which is fantastic,” said Weber. Closer to retail, the brand’s success became evident in January and February of this year when it passed Asics as the top-selling footwear brand in SRA. Weber estimated that Asics had held the top spot since the nineties after taking over from Nike. Internally, the achievement validated the brand’s switch a decade ago from a mass-volume approach to a focus solely on running. “We’re competing as an entire company in [the SRA] channel. I think it will be hard to compete with us and that’s our goal,” said Weber. “We’re marketing effectively with these folks and we’re partnering with them. It starts with product but it’s a lot more than just product. We’re going to continue to focus on [the SRA] channel as a critical strategic imperative. You can’t be a leading running brand unless these people are supporting your products.” ■

For Breaking Trade News Every Business Day Go To WEEK 1120



ASICS AMERICA SEES 18.4 PERCENT REVENUE HIKE IN FISCAL 2011 Asics Corp. reported revenues at Asics America Corp jumped 18.4 percent for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2011. The growth was driven by footwear posting its highest sales figures in recent years at over 18 percent, while apparel showed an increase of almost 14 percent. Including Canada and South America as well as U.S. figures, Asics sales in the Americas region increased 12.4 percent, or an increase of 19.8 percent, in currency-neutral terms, to ¥59.6 billion ($733.1 mm). Segment income increased 52.2 percent, or an increase of 62.3 percent in currency-neutral terms, to ¥4.7 billion ($557.8 mm). Asics America’s statement also indicated that 2011 “has started out strong under the leadership of Kevin Wulff,” who joined Asics America in August 2010 and was named CEO of the region in April 2011. In the statement, Asics America said Wulff’s immediate goal is to “generate significant growth for 2012 and beyond with the ultimate goal of reaching one billion dollars in sales by the year 2015.”

THE STATEMENT LISTED THREE PRIORITIES FOR ASICS AMERICA: Continued Product Innovation: “33 by Asics,” the brand’s entry into the lightweight category this year, “was met with eager anticipation from retailers and consumers and sales have been beyond expectation. Innovation, as it always has been, will continue to be a key factor moving forward.” Improved Service and Distribution: Summer 2011 will bring the opening of a new 500,000 square foot warehouse in Byhalia, MS. With a soft opening in early June and full production by the end of the summer, the distribution center is expected to “provide more square footage and the advanced level of technology required to meet Asics growing demand for years to come.” 8


Internal Restructure: For long-term strategic growth a new internal structure has been set up with several new key positions filled within marketing, product development and sales. The statement said these changes “are designed to improve internal communications and implement go-to-market integration.” These changes included the appointment of two new senior national sales directors. Mike Mitchell will handle the West and Southwest territories, including specialty retailers nationwide, and Tracy Paoletti will serve as his counterpart for the East and Midwest regions. “In order to become a billion dollar business, we will be aggressive and strategic with every move we make,” explained Wulff in a statement released by the company. “Building upon the success of our iconic footwear while innovating and designing new styles and categories will keep us in the dominant position within running and allow us to fuel growth for the Asics brand.” Overall, Asics Corp. reported consolidated fiscal year sales increased 4.9 percent to ¥235.3 billion ($2.9 bn). Domestic Japan net sales declined 5.6 percent to ¥88.0 billion mainly due to the weak sales of sportstyle shoes and athletic wear. Overseas sales increased 12.4 percent to ¥147.3 billion ($1.8 bn), thanks to strong sales of running shoes in Europe, the Americas and Australia. Net income for fiscal 2011 rose 32.7 percent to ¥11.0 billion ($135.9 mm) due to the absence of accrual of the prior-year income taxes which was recorded in the previous fiscal year. For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, Asics Corp. forecasts consolidated net sales of ¥254.0 billion, operating earnings of ¥22.5 million, and net income of ¥13.5 billion, this translates to expectations of a 7.9 percent gain in revenues, a 4.3 percent gain in operating income, and a 22.2 percent increase in net income. ■




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Few movements have energized the specialty running community like the barefoot/minimalist category has over the last year or two. After two consecutive issues of SGB Performance covering the subject from the perspective of the retailer, the vendor and the medical community (see March and April Issues of SGB Performance for “The Minimal Debate, Part I” and “The Minimalism Debate, Part II”), we received one of the biggest responses ever to an SGB Question when we asked the industry to provide their take on the subject. The following are a few of the responses. TO REVIEW ALL RESPONSES OR TO ADD YOUR OWN COMMENTS, GO TO WWW.SGBQUESTION.COM. IF THE QUESTION HAS CHANGED, GO TO “ARCHIVES” AND CLICK ON THE APRIL 2011 LINK.

We are seeing more and more runners utilize natural running or minimal running products as a tool for better running form and/or help correct some of the deficiencies which may have been created by overbuilt products or just pure bad form. It has become a tool for adaptation to better running form. Running Specialty is clearly advocating that any time a pair of natural running or minimalist shoes are sold, it is becoming more and more important for our channel to educate the benefits and potential drawbacks of each particular shoe... which is the same case for current categories. JOHN ROGERS, OWNER, MAINE RUNNING COMPANY

Many dedicated runners have embraced the concept quickly, and certainly the broader marketplace for running shoes has made lightweight running their top choice for casual athletic footwear this year. Does that mean it is here to stay? I believe so, in a significant way. As a consumer, it is difficult to go back to restrictive, heavy, clunky athletic shoes after experiencing lightweight, minimal shoes. For me, it’s like déjà vu all over again. I remember being in high school and buying my first pair of “real” running shoes. Since then running shoes have been my overwhelming choice to wear casually (as well as when I run) and even when I play other sports. FRAN ALLEN, SVP GLOBAL SALES, SAUCONY

It should be a long-term trend once the public has learned that most don’t know how to run yet - and it takes a good while to learn. In the last 15 months I’ve run about 3,500 miles - 1,200 of them barefoot. I could never go back to padded heel sneakers. CHRIS HAWSON, BUYER SOFTGOODS, PARAGON SPORTS

Short-term fad. This is all about people saying “look at me.” In the end it will be the podiatrists and PT’s that will be the big winners. WILLIE LAMBERT, MERCHANDISE MANAGER, OVERSTOCK.COM

The idea of product to help runners run more naturally and more efficiently has been around for awhile and will always be relevant to runners. The current generation of minimal footwear may be enjoying a boost from the fashion/trend side of the business but the best products and ideas will last and new developments in this area will keep it meaningful to the running community. With more people using this type of product we will gain more information about how it compares to more conventional options. I suspect it will influence our thinking about what running footwear could be in the future. BRIAN STEWART, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, NIKE RUNNING

At the last OR show, lightweight and minimalism was all the talk - mostly applied to running. We see an opportunity for this to expand in interpretations across all categories - not every shoe will have this as a theme, but for the right product it can be great. Lightweight is something that everyone can relate to whether they know it or not. It’s a simple concept to understand. The key is to not walk away from the other key characteristics of a shoes intention - stability, traction, durability, etc. You have to stay true to the core features, but interpret them in a lighter, better way. BLAINE CONRAD, FOOTWEAR CATEGORY MANAGER, KEEN

Short-term fad. “Marketing More Garbage” should be the title of this category. JONATHAN LEVIN-EPSTEIN, OWNER, JONATHAN’S SPORTS WORLD

I feel it is here to stay. This isn’t like the toning craze. There are no claims that they will change how you look or feel. This is a new performance category. It is no different than TVs going from big boxes to paper thin wall covers. As more and more come to accept the barefoot versions, I imagine you will see people walking in their daily lives with this product. Those needing a lighter ride for those long runs or just someone who enjoys the feel of lightweight will allow this category to grow in many different directions, not just running. JON ACCAMANDO, VP & GMM, WAREHOUSE SHOE SALE

WEEK 1120


While there are benefits to barefoot/minimal products in training, I still see it as a supplement to the everyday training shoe. With so many new runners, we really have to consider what is motivating them to go out and run, and be realistic about the training habits of these consumers. More people are running for fun and for the social aspect of training with the goal of living a healthier lifestyle. The reality is that most of these people don’t run every day. As an industry, I see the minimal category starting to swing back toward a shoe with more substance, but having implemented characteristics from some of the minimal shoes; a more anatomic forefoot, reduced heel/toe offsets, reduced lever-arms. TED KUSHION, MERCHANDISE MANAGER, FOOTWEAR, GAZELLE SPORTS

I don’t think it will be a long-term trend. Many vendors will dabble in this but in the end few will stick it out. There will also be people who want these types of shoes but most will try it and go back to a more supportive, cushioned shoe. Only an experienced runner should try and use the minimal shoes long-term. Most people’s feet and body won’t be able to absorb the impact and they are not used to having the heel so low to the ground when running. JERICK SOBIE, BOARD CERTIFIED PEDORTHIST, FOOT SOLUTIONS

I believe this is a long-term trend and the minimalist category is here to stay, partly because there is demand. But also because research is beginning to show that running barefoot or in minimal shoes has lower impact on the body, and is ergonomically a better use of our body’s design or engineering. ROB SHOAF, FOUNDER, EPIC RUNNING TRAIL-RUNNING CAMP

I think minimalistic running will become another line that shoe companies will offer to complement their existing lines (stable, neutral, etc.). KIRK SADLER, CO-OWNER, PALMETTO200 RACE

Is minimalist running here to stay? Of course. People are often quick to write off new stuff. MBT, Earth, Newton and Crocs are still here. ‘Barefoot’ shoes may not be in the window display in 2013 but they sure will be on the wall. DAVE DOLPH, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, OBOZ FOOTWEAR

While interest in “barefoot” running is increasing, it should not be viewed as a panacea for every biomechanical problem under the sun. The minimalist concept is not new and has come and gone several times over the years with varying degrees of success. As a runner who has completed over 250 marathons, dozens of 50 milers and the WS 100 five times, I can say that there is a place for minimalist footwear in many runners’ “bag of training tools.” But - and it’s a big but - for many runners, there are limits to how much it should be used without, in fact, increasing the risk of injury. CHARLIE HOOVER, SHOE TECH CONSULTANT & FORMER PHIDIPPIDES ENCINO OWNER 12


It’s my belief that the trend will be somewhat short-term, but that it will help drive some innovation to come up with better designs. The trend to something a little more natural is good but the reality is people still run and walk on unnatural surfaces, so some amount of protection, cushioning and control is needed. It has certainly affected the insole and sock categories and we are working on better innovation to bring to the consumer. For us, in the accessory business, it has been a wake-up call. EVAN WERT, MARKETING MANAGER, SPENCO MEDICAL

Innovation and natural motion are surely part of a longer-term trend, while minimalism will undoubtedly soften at some point as the consumer confronts the performance and versatility limits of these products...From a performance perspective, elite outdoor athletes are not winning the big races in minimalist shoes (while they are in oversize shoes) and any shoe that requires both an instruction manual and a training regimen has some obvious versatility limits. In the longterm, minimalism will likely evolve into a specific training category and tool where it has great benefit. TOM BERRY, VP SALES, MARKETING & MERCHANDISING, TECNICA SPA

Running is a skill just like hitting a golf ball or casting a fly. Barefoot/ minimalist footwear increases the feedback your brain needs to perfect the skill. And, like most skills, it is easier to learn with the right equipment and a good instructor. The injury rate among runners has a lot of people searching for an alternative. The runners that are developing their skills will demand the right products. If they demand, we will supply. JODY HALE, SALES REP, UBER GROUP

The barefoot and natural/minimalist footwear movement is likely here to stay because it actually encourages you to run as nature intended. The theory behind this movement is that it allows your foot to do the work and disperse the impact evenly to better reduce the stress on your body. It is not surprising that many of the best long distance runners in the world are from Kenya where running barefoot is the norm in training. JENNIFER WEIDERMAN, VP & GM, SKECHERS FITNESS GROUP

It’s a piece of the tooling for conditioning. Road, Road to Trail, Trail and now a defined foot-specific “Wellness” offering for quality of life. Beach running with a cover. Who didn’t do this on the west coast in the 60s and 70s? This will be one of the requirements for running longevity - used in moderation and appropriately sold by specialty footwear stores with a conscience. BRIAN SHORTT, VP, SHORTT SUPPLY

I wouldn’t call this a trend or a fad; it’s an expansion of the current lineup of footwear options available to runners. Minimalist running is something that works for some, but not all; just like stability shoes make sense for some but not all. The addition of minimalist options to existing product lines is helping to create a world where more consumers can find the running shoe that best fits and works for them. COLIN TRUE, NATIONAL SALES MANAGER SPORTS & OUTDOOR, PRO BAR

Long-term trend. I recently bought a pair of FiveFingers TrekSports and they are incredible. The “touch” and feel I have of the surface I am playing on is like nothing I have experienced before. I plan on trying out the New Balance Minimus 10. I am not alone in this moment. PETER NORMAND, MANAGER SOURCING AND PRODUCT, VOMAX

Absolutely long-term. Since we’ve been teaching minimal footwear for over a decade, it’s something we truly believe in. Minimal footwear is the only way to safely run and walk. We have hundreds of thousands of runners who use the Chi Running technique and already understand that minimal footwear is an important step to learning energy-efficient, lowimpact running form. DANNY DREYER, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, CHI LIVING, CHI RUNNING AND CHI WALKING

I think it is long-term. It’s partially based on looks but people are also into the benefits to the physical body from the shoes themselves. Once in a while the market comes up with something innovative that will stay around for a while. These shoes are one of them.

Barefoot running is a trend. The benefits that runners get not by simply removing their shoes, but by using the feedback from the sensations (i.e. pain) to develop a more efficient gait, will support the growth of the niche. However, most of the footwear for this space is only “minimalist” or “barefoot” footwear in name. A “zero-drop” shoe with an inch of EVA and a narrow, curved last is not a minimalist shoe, despite what it says in the advertising. STEVEN SASHEN, CEO, INVISIBLE SHOES

As one of the first retail stores in the south to carry Vibram FiveFingers, I am excited to see this new category in the outdoor footwear industry. I would say they are not a fad but a long-term trend. I love my FiveFingers and have worn them for over three years now. JULIE QUINN, MANAGER/BUYER, WILD BLUE YONDER

Hokey Pokey Garbage. I have been running since high school and am still at it at 70 here in Thailand….I could never wear such crap and continue running. Went running barefoot in a race and got a chunk of glass in my foot that took me almost a year to discover. I abandoned any such thoughts of barefoot running...Just a fad or the Kenyans and other Africans would be doing it in races. Yeah, try toning shoes to increase performance???? BRIAN SPRINGER, MANAGER FOREIGN PURCHASING, VS ATHLETICS-USA

This is a short-term fad. Many running injuries will occur as a result. I think you’ll see brands moving away from the minimalist products by 2014. I do think there is potential for these to be incorporated into some stages of training but not enough for the manufacturers to devote a great volume of resources to it. CHRIS PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT, WC PHILLIPS AND ASSOCIATES

The availability of a wide range of products (that are generally selling well) combined with national best-selling books such as Born To Run are fueling the category. Current scientific research also concludes that running naturally on the mid-foot eliminates the collisional impact force of heal-striking. I think this is a long-term trend in footwear that will continue to grow. JONATHAN VINET, INDEPENDENT REP, PURSUIT BRAND EQUITY GROUP




TOM RAYNOR Fresh off his induction into the Sporting Goods Hall of Fame, SGB Performance looks back at the career - and influence - of Fleet Feet’s guiding Force. By Thomas J. Ryan

Tom Raynor (left), chairman & CEO, Fleet Feet, Inc. is introduced at the 2011 Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony by Jeff Phillips, president of Fleet Feet, Inc.

In 1975, Tom Raynor, working as a press aide to then Governor Jimmy Carter, was “assigned” to escort Hunter S. Thompson on a trip to Atlanta while the renegade journalist covered George Wallace’s third and final presidential run. Explains Raynor on why he was chosen for the task, “I was the long haired, motorcycle riding, music-loving young guy on staff.” The 25-year old Raynor appeared far from launching his own legendary career in the running industry that led him to be inducted into the NSGA’s Hall Of Fame this year in early May. In hindsight, however, Raynor says running was long-guiding his path. 14


“Everything comes back to running,” recalls Raynor. “Being on the cross country and track teams in high school kept me in school plus I had to attend class and get good grades to be on the teams. College only became possible at the end my senior year because of running. I ran the state mile and two-mile championships (placing 8th and 6th respectively) and Tim Singleton, dean of men and the cross-country coach at Georgia State, was impressed with my mediocre performances. When I worked for the Governor, we’d talk running. He would run at the Naval Academy and continued to enjoy running and the outdoors. Running is in my DNA.”

Like many others who find themselves crafting a career in sporting goods, finding a way to make money on his passion took time. At Georgia State, he majored in criminal justice and journalism. “I liked the idea of combining a career in law enforcement with writing about a career in law enforcement,” said Raynor. In his senior year, Raynor’s eyes were opened after being given the opportunity to intern for the office of the Governor. “The time there and the early days of the Presidential campaign were incredibly formative for me,” said Raynor. “I interacted with a lot of different people - Duane Allman, Julian Bond, Ted Turner, Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, Hamilton Jordan, Jody Powell, Judy Woodruff, Reg Murphy, Morris Dees, Hunter S. Thompson, Carl Rowan - and many more who were more interesting but have less famous names. The lives they were living opened up a huge window for my life that was previously and completely invisible to a kid who’d been raised by a single mother in a series of rental apartments and whose primary accomplishment had been to go to college and not Vietnam.” Some highlights included seeing the Allman Brothers with the Carter family on New Year’s Eve at the Fox Theater, as well as driving then Presidential candidate Carter to the airport for his first trip after leaving office. “As we were driving to Atlanta from Plains at 5:15 a.m. in my Jeep Scout, Jimmy Carter turned the radio to WSB from Atlanta,” says Raynor. “I’ve forgotten what the first two lead stories were at the top of the hour but the third was, ‘Former Governor Jimmy Carter starts his long-term bid for the democratic presidential nomination today with a trip to Iowa.’ We just looked at each other and smiled.” His own political career was short-lived. Taking a job at the Georgia Business and Industry Association, Raynor helped build a platform for business in the Carter campaign. Finding the work “uninspiring,” he jumped at the opportunity to become assistant director of housing and student affairs at Vanderbilt University. “It probably didn’t seem like a great fit to hire someone to be in charge of residential housing on campus who had never lived in a college dorm before,” joked Raynor, “but then I started coaching and working in running stores and restaurants and running wide open all the time, which seems to fit my lifestyle.” His sporting goods career officially began as a sales associate at The Athlete’s House in Nashville, TN and later at The Athlete’s Foot, also in Nashville. The first “running boom,” ignited by Frank Shorter’s 1972 Olympic Marathon win, was taking off and Raynor was involved in running at every level - athlete, coach, shoe salesman, and running club co-founder (Greater Nashville Athletic Club and Portland, OR Athletic Club). “We never considered we were part of a running boom,” Raynor recounts. “Research was coming out from Dr. Ken Cooper and popular books being written by guys like Bill Bowerman that supported the position that running and physical activity were good for you. We didn’t care anything about that, we just loved to train with our buddies and then pin the number on the shirt and race the legs off each other.”

(From left to right) Anne Stancil (Fleet Feet Tucson); Pete and Jeanne Snell, owners Fleet Feet Tucson; Tom Raynor, Mike Greehan, Jeff Wells, Fleet Feet Louisville; Paul Morrison, Fleet Feet Bonney Lake

(From left to right) Greg Meyer, Dan Norton, Will Albers, Mike Greehan, Tom Raynor and Tom Wysocki

(From left to right) Gary Slayton, VP Asics America; Rebecca Wallace, Run On! Texas; Tom Raynor, and John L. Parker, Jr. (author of Once A Runner)

His favorite memories involved coaching. A recent reunion of the teams he coached at Vanderbilt reaffirmed his belief in the sport’s ability to build character and connections “We fell into that easy familiarity that comes with miles of trials and it was like we got together every day,” said Raynor of the reunion. “Running gives you this huge opportunity to retain this incredible bond with people throughout your life. While the Olympics and World Championships are among the unbelievable track and field meets I’ve been to, I still get the most joy from sitting in the stands at the track at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill watching a high school meet or visiting Franklin Field in Philadelphia annually and seeing 50,000 cheering track fans encourage a young high school miler to a great performance.” His impact and familiarity with the Southeastern U.S. running scene led to a job with the independent sales agency, Sig Lee and Associates, representing Nike, Ridgeview and Spenco throughout the Southeast. Raynor soon joined an ambitious crew that helped establish one of America’s greatest brands, Nike. “The fire for me was fueled by Jeff Johnson, Ned Frederick, Mark Parker, Tom Clarke, Rob Strasser, Tom Carmody, Geoff Hollister, Pam Magee, Brad Johnson, Tinker Hatfield, Kirk Richardson, Steve Gomez, Julie Strasser and a host of other incredibly driven people,’ said Raynor. “We got up every morning, rushed off in all directions and reconnoitering again at night to debrief and plan for the next day.’ Raynor plied the highways of the South presenting product seminars in stores, speaking at events, setting up booths at race expos while continuing to coach. His regular reports back to Nike, reflecting the changing market and opportunities for the expansion of running, were a factor in the creation of EKIN (Nike spelled backwards), Nike’s national “tech rep” program became the first such program among major footwear manufacturers. In the early days, Nike’s success had much more to do with product and explaining the merits of running footwear than any hype around the Nike brand, he believes. “It wasn’t a marketing machine,” remarks Raynor. “It was a product fueled rocket ship. We were all personally responsible to our teammates for launching that rocket as fast and as far as possible. We dreamed up things we thought would make a difference for running, not for Nike, and then we did them.” Unfortunately, Raynor was fired from Nike in 1983. “I was crushed,” he admits. I was 33 years old, working in my dream job with the best people in the industry for the greatest running company, making the best running shoes ever made.” But a new opportunity quickly opened up. Based on his reputation, Mike Greehan of Brooks Shoe Co. hired Raynor as their eastern regional sales manager without an interview in person. “I was probably the worst sales manager ever,” he admits. “I could not understand why independent sales reps couldn’t see the commitment they had to make in order to make Brooks number one. Then I figured it out. It’s all about product. So we got some really smart, hard working people 16


Tom Raynor at the Rocket City Marathon

and we set out to make Brooks the best product for runners and, for a time, we did just that.” Among those hires included a recent Virginia Tech grad, Jeff Phillips, who eventually became his long-time partner at Fleet Feet, Inc. At Brooks, Raynor rose to promotions manager, marketing manager and, ultimately, director of marketing and product development helping to establish Brooks as one of the early leaders in running footwear. After being passed over as president of Brooks, Raynor, in 1989, decided to join Wilson Sporting Goods as general manager of footwear, a move he describes as “ill fated” from the beginning. One reason two weeks before he started, Ned Post, who had been encouraging him to join, left to eventually become CEO of Smith Sports Optics. Says Raynor, “Ned was the only guy at Wilson that ran and biked. I was flying solo without any ground support after he left.” Raynor returned to running in 1992 by joining Fleet Feet, Inc., where he worked on store operations and new store development. The next year, he purchased the franchise company from founder Sally Edwards. The switch from vendor to retail, according to Raynor, came partly in recognition that “the vendor side of the business is very challenging. You get up every day and compete with some other great companies, many have more resources than you do.” He was also familiar with the franchise model, having worked for The Athlete’s Foot, and developed relationships with Jeff Galloway, the founder of Phidippides, Marty Liquori and Jimmy Carnes - the co-founders of Athletic Attic. “Fleet Feet Sports had a core of great store owners who were and would have been successful with or without Fleet Feet Sports above the door,” adds Raynor. “They were really the platform for the company. I was able to stand on their solid foundation while the hurricane was

(From left to right) Roy and Betty Benson, Fleet Feet Lifetime Achievement Award Winners 2008 and NSGA Hall of Fame Award Winners with Tom Raynor.

hitting Fleet Feet and the rest of the specialty running channel.” Still, he considers it fortunate that Fleet Feet, Inc. has remained in business given the struggles and casualties in the other running franchised models. While acknowledging it’s a cliché, Raynor points to a focus on people and finding the right franchisee partners as the foundation for Fleet Feet, Inc.’s success. “These franchisees have the same spirit, drive, personal accountability and responsibility to each other that I think you will find in any truly great company,” said Raynor. “They are also passionate about our commitment to our communities and fostering an environment of mutual respect and inclusiveness for the broadest group of people possible.” Equally important has been creating a dynamic platform for growth and business development for existing stores. “Under Jeff Phillips’ leadership, we’ve built a great company at Fleet Feet, Inc.,” said Raynor. “Six years ago we put an Employee Stock Ownership Plan in place. Employees now own 40 percent of the company and I’m planning on transferring my remaining 60 percent ownership in Fleet Feet, Inc. to the ESOP very quickly.” His latest venture, Specialty Retail Development Company (SRDC), took shape five years when he pooled his resources with Jeff Phillips and Jeff Wells to purchase Fleet Feet Sports in Brentwood, TN. The business had three goals – to provide an exit strategy for franchise owners who wanted or needed to sell their stores; to provide a viable option for Fleet Feet’s best employees to own their own businesses and to buy underperforming stores and maximizing their potential under new ownership with the support from Fleet Feet, Inc. “An unexpected by-product has been that there are a lot of independent specialty store owners who don’t have an exit strategy and those have become tremendous opportunities for us to buy stores in markets we want to be in, create more ownership openings for great employees and provide another revenue source for Fleet

Photographed at a Brooks Sales Meeting, while Tom Raynor worked at Brooks

Feet, Inc.,” adds Raynor. “Of course, the SRDC doesn’t plan on owning the stores long-term, just long enough to get them to a financial and operational standpoint where the new ownership is ready to take over.” SRDC “graduated” its first two stores out of the SRDC at the end of 2010. Denise Corey, Fleet Feet’s former banker, has taken over as general manager of SRDC currently overseeing 17 stores. On a personal level, Raynor last summer overcame a sevenmonth battle with cancer.] “Strangely, or perhaps not,” says Raynor. “I don’t have many physical recollections of being sick, only vague impressions, as if I were looking down on the scene from height. They say your mind protects you from too much detail.” But the experience gave him a newfound appreciation of the friends he has made in the running community as well as in life. With Phillips running Fleet Feet, Inc. and Corey heading SRDC, Raynor has retired from both companies while remaining on call for projects. But his career is far from over. “I actually have two other start-ups I’m working on, one addressing the comprehensive goals and lifestyles of our customers and one building another foundation for the future of the specialty industry,” said Raynor. “I suspect they will keep me busy for a few more years, then on to something new.” Indeed, Raynor believes the overall opportunity to address healthy lifestyles is significantly larger than run specialty. “In fact, I don’t think there is any future for running stores, as they exist today,’ said Raynor. “We have to be much broader in our approach, expand our umbrella to include customers from the couch to our No Boundaries Program, to reach young people and make them lifetime fitness advocates and keep current walkers and runners healthy and active as they get older. I think our bright future is going to be built on a whole new platform, a lifetime platform of fitness and well being that reaches a huge number of people.” ■ WEEK 1120






Photo courtesy of Moving Comfort


s Plato suggested, necessity is indeed the mother of invention. The sports bra industry is no exception. It all began with the passage of Title IX in 1972, mandating institutions that received federal funding to allocate equal amounts of money to men’s and women’s athletics. By the late 1970’s the jogging craze had taken hold, sending nearly 6 million women to the roads to run. Uncomfortable chaffing, falling bra straps and sharp underwire became regular complaints among the growing population of active women. Well aware of the need for innovation, Lisa Lindahl, Polly Smith, and Hinda Miller, decided there had to be a solution. With little knowledge of the business, the team fashioned a prototype by sewing two jock straps together. What was later dubbed the “JogBra” has since been honored at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Museum and is now manufactured in its modern-day form by Champion. With time, sports bras became big business. They now bring in hundreds of millions of dollars at retail every year and have enabled entire generations of women to be comfortable while being active and athletic. “The evolution of the sports bra industry is very much tied to the growth of women’s sports,” says John Wilson, COO of CW-X. Who can forget the iconic image of the bra-bearing Brandi Chastain after the game-winning penalty shot at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup? Images like those in magazines and on television solidified the brand power of women’s athletic apparel and the importance of providing individual attention to that section of the market. Julie Baxter, Vice President of Moving Comfort agrees. “There are just so many more women out there working out now; you have to have more sports bra options simply because the customer base is so much more diverse today,” she said. Improvements in design, support, moisture wicking capabilities, and overall style have been among the most notable advances. Now, in 2011, all involved have begun to work collectively to get every active woman in the best bra for the job. Today the foundation of women’s athletics is stronger than ever, allowing women to get out and get active.

IMPROVED SUPPORT While the original JogBra was revolutionary for its time, it quickly became obvious that it didn’t work for women with larger cup sizes. “Back when the original JogBra was created, the products were typically made of cotton and were pretty basic. It was a one size fits all

type of business where there was one design for all sports bras,” says Sarah Clark, Product Line Coordinator for Patagonia. “They worked for a number of women, but there was a population outside of that that it wouldn’t work for.” “I can speak to this personally,” says Baxter. “When I finally found a bra that fit me and supported me really well, my running greatly improved. It was more comfortable and more fun and it wasn’t drudgery to go out and run.” No longer are sports bras cotton, pullover, semi-supported garments, but rather pieces of equipment that are tested in high tech labs around the world to determine the most scientifically sound ways to support women of all shapes and sizes. “Many of the companies have begun testing the bras with women on treadmills wearing special monitors,” says Jillian Wieder, Brand Manager for Fleet Feet Incorporated. “They’ve discovered things like the fact that breasts often move in the motion of a figure 8, and that they move in and out, sideways, and up and down. There’s just a lot more motion involved than we originally thought.” As a result, companies are looking for better ways to control that movement. Bonnie Dau, Co-Owner of Revel Sports in Schofield, Wisconsin, often recommends CW-X sports bras to serious athletes. This is not surprising as their parent company, Wacoal Corporation, is one of the largest intimate Photo courtesy of Kalyx apparel producers in the world, selling nearly 40 million bras annually. “The Wacoal Human Science Research team utilizes high-speed video analysis to pinpoint human motion during activities, such as running,” says Dau. “This has given CW-X the ability to design a sports bra that not only controls motion, but also enhances fit and comfort.” Moving Comfort pays similar attention to providing the utmost in support, understanding that a properly snug fitting band provides the foundation for the entire system. “Our fabric team is always looking for the next great thing to build a bra and provide the best support. It’s usually not just one fabric but a combination of fabrics and special constructions that really make the bra work,” explains Baxter. She continued, “We do a lot of biomechanical testing on our bras so we know how they work during activity.” Following testing they tweak each prototype so it works exactly the way they intended it to for the end user. In the beginning, bands were too loose, failing to provide ample support, and straps were often too stretchy, allowing for excessive movement of the breasts. WEEK 1120


Photo courtesy by Patagonia

Advances in construction include adding more flexibility in certain areas, as well as better adjustability in the straps and clasps. “Many bras used to use the straps to support the breasts, but the performance of the bra itself needs to hold you in close so it doesn’t pull as much in the first place,” explains Renelle Braaten, Founder and President of ENELL. Lab and wear testing have eliminated those problems and made for more supportive garments across the board.

HIGH TECHNOLOGY Along with increased support, has also come moisture management fibers that decrease chaffing and make for a more overall, comfortable experience. “One major factor that differentiates sports bras from a lingerie style bra is moisture management,” says Kimberly Cayce, CEO of Kalyx. “Active women sweat—lingerie style bras just aren’t designed to manage moisture generated during exercise.” In the early days, cotton spandex was the fabric of choice for most manufacturers. “There’s still a place for that for some people,” says Baxter. “But we find that women want their bras to dry more quickly and to wick better. We’re always looking for a product to provide that higher level of comfort for our customers.” “It’s not a new idea to offer fabrics that provide wicking properties,” adds Dau. “However, the newer fabrics are softer and better at wicking moisture.” Clark agrees saying that she gets constant requests from Patagonia’s Ambassadors for fast-drying, lightweight fabrics 20


that don’t sacrifice support and durability. “Fabrics are vastly different than they were in the beginning,” she says. “Women expect a lot more from their sports bras now.” Baxter says that wicking fibers are simply non-negotiable these days. “Many women are fitting in their workouts as best they can and then going straight to run errands or pick up the kids from school and oftentimes they have to leave their sports bra on,” she says. Gone are the days of cotton, sweat-saturated bras. From Coolmax to DriLayer to Evaporator, moisture wicking technology is a must when it comes to today’s sports bras. “Things have evolved a lot more than I ever expected,” laughs Braaten. “At the beginning we were using things out of my mom’s sewing kit; some of the fabrics we used were pretty funny.” From support, to comfort, to moisture management, and style, the sports bra industry has come a long way since 1977. Even in the twelve years since Chastain’s famous celebration on the soccer pitch, sports bra design and comfort has seen unprecedented development. “Sports bras have become the number two piece of equipment for female athletes, and in some cases it could be argued that it is the most important because they might not be active if they aren’t comfortable,” says Wieder. “When sports bras were first being developed they were just pullover crop tops, and now they are real live bras,” reminisces Baxter. “There has been a major evolution over the last 20 years. Really everything has changed.” ■ Note: This is part one of a two-part series.

MOVING COMFORT’S VIRTUAL FITTING ROOM Taking the guesswork out of bra fitting, Moving Comfort’s Virtual Fitting Room provides women an online fitting experience. “The inspiration behind the virtual fitting room and the inspiration that retailers should have behind selling sports bras is that you’re really enabling women to perform better and feel better about their workout,” says Vice President of Moving Comfort, Julie Baxter. Divided into four sections, the fitting site helps guide women to the right bra. These sections include instructional videos on how to take your own measurements, tips and troubleshooting on how to fit a bra, explanations of the anatomy of a sports bra, and instructions on how to care for the garment. “We felt strongly we needed to create a tool on our website to help consumers figure out what size bra they needed,” explains Baxter. Since every woman doesn’t have access to a store with staff trained to fit sports bras, this provides a great option to help them determine which size and style will fit them best.









1. Brooks Glycerin Bra Top With plush ribbed, elasticized fabric, the Brooks Glycerin Bra Top is both comfortable and stylish. Featuring seamless cup construction and strategically placed lift, this bra looks good on a variety of body types. For better support, Brooks also provides a double-strap racer back construction. MSRP $36 2. Kalyx Kickstart Sports Bra The original Kalyx snowboarding bra, the Kickstart is also great for pilates, yoga, rollerblading and other activities. Made with 35% recycled fibers, this bra is perfect for the A/B cup. MSRP $40 3. Patagonia Switchback Bra New for 2011, the Switchback bra adjusts for a perfect fit. The quick-wicking recycled poly/nylon/spandex blend material and super soft construction make this bra perfect for a C/D cup. MSRP $59

4. ISIS D+ Sport Bra The D+ bra touts an exclusive six-point support system woven right into the material. With no seams, this bra provides exceptional support and superior comfort during a variety of activities. MSRP $49 5. Moving Comfort Vixen A racer-back design and contoured cups, the Vixen provides a classic athletic fit with feminine styling. A back Powermesh zone provides superior ventilation and seamfree interior molded cups encapsulate for extra support and shaping. MSRP $38 6. Moving Comfort Jubralee The definition of support and comfort, the Jubralee Sports Bra provides a flattering, streamlined and sporty design. Front adjustable straps offer unsurpassed levels of comfort, while hidden side and under bust support help to provide a custom fit. MSRP $58

7. ENELL Sports Bra This high-impact bra provides superior support and comfort with its patented design and construction. A balance of compression and encapsulation provide well-endowed women with the support they need when working out. MSRP $64-$66 8. CW-X VersatX Support Bra This bra balances comfort and support with adjustability and a flattering silhouette. Featuring a seamless front panel with a 5-point CW-X Targeted Support Web in each cup, it is reinforced with an extra internal web layer. A LiteStretch mesh back, mesh under-cup channels, and Coolmax/Lycra tricot construction produce ultra-quick wicking. MSRP $65

WEEK 1120



For full year calendar go to

Athletic Dealers of America 1395 Highland Avenue Melbourne, FL 32935 t 321.254.0091 f 321.242.7419


Licensing International Expo Las Vegas, NV


SGB 40 Under 40 Awards Chicago, IL


EORA Southeast Summer Early Bird Show Greenville, SC


EORA Northeast Summer Early Bird Show Manchester, NH


TAG Spring / Summer Show St. Louis, MO

JULY 6-8

EORA Mid-Atlantic Summer Show Parsippany, NJ


NBS Summer Market Grapevine, TX


EORA Mid-Atlantic Summer Show Parsippany, NJ


ADA Spring Buying Show Atlanta, GA


ASA-ICAST International Sport Fishing Expo Las Vegas, NV


BCA International Billiard and Home Recreation Expo Las Vegas, NV

14-17 19-21 21-24

European Outdoor Trade Fair Friedrichshafen, Germany ASI Chicago Chicago, IL Bike Expo 2011 Munich, Germany





Outdoor Retailer Open Air Demo Salt Lake City, UT Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Salt Lake City, UT




National Sporting Goods Association 1601 Feehanville Dr. / Suite 300 Mount Prospect, IL 60056 t 847.296.6742 f 847.391.9827 Nation’s Best Sports 4216 Hahn Blvd. Ft. Worth, TX 76117 t 817.788.0034 f 817.788.8542 Outdoor Industry Association 4909 Pearl East Circle / Suite 200 Boulder, CO 80301 t 303.444.3353 f 303.444.3284 SGMA 8505 Fenton Street Silver Spring, MD 20910 t 301.495.6321 f 301.495.6322 SnowSports Industries of America 8377-B Greensboro Drive McLean, VA 22102 t 703.556.9020 f 703.821.8276 Sports, Inc. 333 2nd Avenue North Lewistown, MT 59457 t 406.538.3496 f 406.538.2801 Sports Specialists, Ltd. 590 Fishers Station Dr. / Suite 110 Victor, NY 14564 t 585.742.1010 f 585.742.2645 Team Athletic Goods 629 Cepi Drive Chesterfield, MO 63005 t 636.530.3710 f 636.530.3711 World Wide Distributors 8211 South 194th Kent, WA 98032 t 253.872.8746 f 253.872.7603

"I can't imagine having achieved the expanded retail space & growth of our business without regularly attending OR." – Marc Sherman, Outdoor Gear Exchange and

201 1


AUGUST 4-7, 2011 Salt Palace Convention Center Salt Lake City, UT

JANUARY 19-22, 2012 Salt Palace Convention Center Salt Lake City, UT

Open Air Demo AUGUST 3, 2011 Jordanelle State Park, UT

All Mountain Demo JANUARY 18, 2012 Wasatch Range, UT


“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” Peter Drucker

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