“The back supports the front, and the front supports the back. That means if you’re finishing a local 5K and you’re running 14:50, you’re going to circle back and cheer on your teammates as they come in,” says Mill City Running co-owner Jeff Metzdorff.
More than 400 athletes in the running club have connected through the local shop, which is one example of a running speciality business in the US that’s embracing an inclusive approach to the in-store experience.
And that ’s necessary in SA too, because in the past decade many running retail locations have closed because of fierce competition from online retailers, an oversaturated market, and corporate consolidation, among other challenges. In the US in 2016 alone (the last year the statistic was available in the National Runner Survey), 31 per cent of more than 10 000 runners said they purchased their last pair of running shoes online, compared with just 7 per cent who purchased their shoes at an athletic footwear store. The story is similar in SA.
Because it’s easy to find deals online, speciality running shops have been forced to adapt. The most successful shops in the US have accepted the challenge by finding creative ways to connect with their customers, and keep them coming through their doors instead of browsing Amazon. South African retailers, watch and learn.
• Creating and Embracing Runners
When a visitor walks int