What will the future of my business look like? This million-dollar question inevitably crosses the minds of retail store owners across the channel — occasionally for most and much more often for others. The Running Industry Association’s (RIA) annual member event, the RIA Summit, (formerly known as Runchella) may just give attendees a small glimpse into a run specialty crystal ball. 

From an opening night industry panel on how artificial intelligence will impact the run specialty channel, to small group discussions on retaining and elevating superstar employees, to professional development sessions on the future of buying and inventory management, conference attendees will walk away with actionable, progressive ideas about how to move their businesses forward in a rapidly changing environment. 

“Looking ahead as a channel will be a recurrent topic for this year’s Summit,” explains RIA executive director Terry Schalow. “How will AI influence the way we do business and connect with our customers? How do direct-to-consumer brand sales impact bottom lines? What trends are emerging that we need to get ahead of? These are just some of the questions we will address through programming and discussions with our key brands and partners.” 

Similar to past RIA events, there will be product presentations and general brand overviews with channel managers, but the 2024 show will also include:

  • One-on-one meetings with executives (top-to-tops). Instead of small groups, this is one retail store team and brand leaders in a private meeting. Topics of conversation are open to what retailers wish to discuss with their key brand partners. 
  • Small group discussions (brands and retailers). Foster better and more productive ways of doing business together. A few examples of the moderated conversations at the Summit: Book more, chase less – futures planning; How to best partner in the DTC environment; ‘Hidden runner’ acquisition - What retailers and brands should know.

This event is the most bang for your buck,” says Chris Rogers, of Lincoln Running. “We always come home with positive, innovative ideas for the staff and that's what it's all about.

“The ability to interact with both brands and other retailers provides such a unique opportunity that gives us the tools and ideas we need to continually improve our business,” adds Brad Altevogt, Three Rivers Running. “It's such a productive atmosphere that we even find great ideas just sitting down with others at lunch.”

The annual RIA gathering originated in Denver, then moved to Chicago and this year St. Louis will be the host city. Why did the venue change? As RIA explains it, the group gathers feedback after each show and last year’s focused on a desire for more versatile spaces to accommodate quieter meeting rooms and additional programming. Thus the move to the Union Station Hotel, a location that has plenty of space for the top brands, peer-sharing sessions, one-on-one brand conversations and much more. 

Registration Closes on March 29. For more: https://runningindustry.org/summit

2024 Brand Attendees

The industry's key brands are returning to the annual member’s event. This year’s hit list of footwear, apparel and accessory brands Include

  • Altra
  • Amphipod
  • Balega
  • Brooks
  • CEP
  • Craft Sportswear
  • Darn Tough 
  • Feetures
  • Foundation Wellness (Currex/Powerstep)
  • Mizuno
  • Nathan Sports
  • New Balance
  • On
  • Oofos
  • OS1st
  • Puma
  • rabbit
  • Saucony
  • Sky Manufacturing
  • Superfeet
  • Vuori

Emerging Brands 

The event will also offer shorter, demonstration-based sessions with new or new-to-the-channel brands allowing attendees to meet the owners, view line presentations and truly experience the products — all so retailers can add new items to their product assortments and give their customers a great reason to come see what’s new. This year’s emerging brand lineup includes:

  • Caterpy - Innovative Laces
  • Ciele - Performance Headwear
  • Clove - Footwear to Attract a New Customer
  • FootBalance - Custom Insoles
  • Hylo Athletics - Footwear with a Sustainability Story 
  • Kahtoola - Winter Footwear Traction
  • KINeSYS - Active Sunscreen
  • Pressio - Sustainable, Brandable Apparel 
  • Roll Recovery - Tissue Massage Tools
  • True Motion - European Footwear Brand
  • Untapped - All Natural Energy Gel
  • Xact Nutrition - Fuel for Runners
Business Partners 

In addition to brand engagement, The RIA Summit offers training on various business tools that support retailers with e-commerce sales, digital marketing and more. Learn about new platforms to transform your business, or sign up for deep dive sessions to help you utilize all the bells and whistles.

Retailers can sign up for workshops with: Fitted, Run Free, Optio, Omni, Sports Marketing Surveys and Rare Circles 


Programming will be designed to look to the future, whether it is new technology (did someone say AI?) or novel ways to create a sticky store culture. The goal is to give retailers tangible action items to take home and implement. 

There are two programming types:  

  • Professional Development
    • The future of buying/Inventory management 
    • Navigating digital marketing in the age of AI
    • E-commerce sales trends using the latest tools
    • RIA Product Data Collaborative training 
  • Peer-to-Peer Group Conversations
    • Retaining and elevating your superstars - What’s next?
    • Cultivating store culture, with an eye toward inclusion
    • Improving staff training 

In addition, a New Store Track will include sessions that will allow attendees to learn from the masters with peer sharing and mentoring, join the new store RIA Mastermind group and build relationships with dinner date matching and other social opportunities