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The Running Event Inspires Store Owners to Consider New Customer Base

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AUSTIN (Dec. 10, 2015) – For four days, Austin became the center of the running industry in North America. Specialty running store buyers traveled from 46 states and as far as Argentina, China, and Japan, to attend the 10th annual The Running Event (TRE) conference and trade show, Dec. 1 to 4, 2015.

They traveled to the capital city of Texas to learn from retail experts how to run their businesses more profitably, see the latest in footwear, gear and apparel from 307 exhibitors large and small, and consider how obstacle racing, elliptical cycling, and suspension training can attract new customers through their doors.

Attendance at TRE 2015 was on par with the 2014 event. This year it attracted more than 800 running store owners and executives representing more than 1,350 storefronts, according to show organizer Formula4 Media, based in Great Neck, N.Y.

In all, the show was attended by 2,628 running industry professionals, and was covered by 87 media (up 24 percent over the year before), representing both running and mainstream print, electronic, and social media outlets.

An adjacent hall in the Austin Convention Center, dubbed the TRE Experiential Zone, provided hands-on demonstrations of Spartan obstacle racing; ElliptiGO elliptical cycling which combines the best of running, cycling and the elliptical trainer; inov-8 strength training for runners; and TRX suspension training.

“The event keeps getting better and this was our best yet in terms of its value to buyers, the quality of our educational content, and a new Experiential Zone that demonstrated popular alternative sports that can drive business,” said Troy Leonard, show director.

In his keynote address, Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena told buyers, “Obstacle racing is like a gateway drug. It’s like a live videogame. We are a great entryway into selling shoes and clothing. Couch potatoes are more likely to start out obstacle racing than running a half-marathon.”

Sell More Stuff

The focus on increased sales was reinforced by a number of educational seminars. In a presentation titled, “How to Get Your Staff to Sell More Stuff,” moderator Tom Griffen of The Mann Group, Asheville, N.C., said, “If you’re not listening to customers, you’re not developing a relationship with them.”

Added retailer Brian Bobbitt of Running Central, Peoria, Ill., “Lay solutions at your customers’ feet so they can decide what will work best to provide a solution to their (running) needs.”

Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing, Oakville, Ontario, said in another presentation, “If you want good word of mouth, you have to do things that are worth people talking about.”

The Envelope Please

At the annual 50 Best Running Stores in America dinner, sponsored by Competitor and Gatorade Endurance, the Ubuntu Award for community service was presented to Big River Running Co., St. Louis. The Never Stop Exploring Award, presented to stores that inspire athletes to participate, went to Fleet Feet Sports of West Hartford, Conn.

Christi Beth Adams of Fleet Feet Sports Nashville, won the Just Do It Award, presented annually for women’s leadership in the running retail business. Rackets & Runners of Vancouver, B.C., was honored as the Canadian Store of the Year. The highly coveted Store of the Year went to Oklahoma City’s Red Coyote Running and Fitness. 

(To view the list of 50 Best Running Stores in America for 2015, log onto:

The Independent Running Retailers Association (IRRA) named Feetures! as Non-Footwear Vendor of the Year, and the ASICS Gel Nimbus 17 as Shoe of the Year.

Vendor of the Year was Brooks, with famed runner Johnny Kelley (1907-2004) and adidas founder Adolf “Adi” Dassler (1900-1978) named as Vendor Influencers of the Year. The IRRA’s Retailers of the Year were Lea Gallardo of Metro Run & Walk, Springfield, Va., and Bob Schwelm of Bryn Mawr Running Co., Bryn Mawr, Pa.

IRRA Executive Director Parker Karnan echoed what was on the minds of hundreds of passionate running store executives at the Dec. 2 breakfast, many of whom were accomplished runners themselves, “Be grateful for being such a wonderful industry.”

Future Plans

TRE 2016 will be held in Orlando, Fla., a one-time change of venue due to a conflict with the Austin Convention Center. Next year’s conference and trade show will be held at the Orange County Convention Center on Nov. 29 to Dec. 2, 2016, with an industry race planned at EPCOT Center, the second of four theme parks built at Walt Disney World.

Formula4 Media’s other trade show, The Running & Fitness Event for Women, will be held June 8 to 10, 2016, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

For more information about TRE: Troy Leonard, show director, 352 624 1561,; Mark Sullivan, president, 646 319 7878,

For more information about how to participate in the 2016 The Running & Fitness Event for Women, contact Beth Gordon, 949 293 1378,

Formula4 Media, based in Great Neck, N.Y., established in 2005, also produces eight publications: Footwear Insight, Inside Insight, Outdoor Insight, Running Insight, Sports Insight, Team Insight, Textile Insight, and Trend Insight.