The Running Specialty Store Concept
Brief observations by business owner Frank Giannino
In my view, the Running Specialty store concept began in the 1970’s. Specialty running stores carry medium to high end merchandise and provide a high level of service and expertise. Some stores use cad cam technology and treadmill and video tape analysis to assist their customers with a shoe purchase. Other stores use a more personal hands-on approach to fitting. Many of these approaches to fitting shoes are proprietary. Some running stores are single stores and others are part of a chain.
The advantage of a chain is buying power for bigger discounts on the wholesale end. The disadvantage of a chain is that it many times becomes more of a corporate setting where the bottom line is what really matters, so the service becomes diminished. To some, owning a franchise is more desirable. The upside of a franchise is accessibility to premium inventory and a proven brand name and concept. The downside is the franchisor is your partner at 4-6% of your sales. The running specialty business is still one of the fastest growing trends in the world. Consumers want more for their buck. They want someone who knows what they are talking about, someone who they can relate to. Specialty running stores are very involved with their community. They are a great resource, sponsor many events, dispense great advice, and are a great source of referral.