Big Peach Running Co. continues growing its family.
In early May, the Atlanta-based run specialty shop announced North GA Running Co., a seven-year-old store in Cumming, GA, helmed by the husband-and-wife duo of Alex and Stephanie Rodriguez, had joined Big Peach’s expanding orbit.
The North GA Running retail shop, which will soon operate under the Big Peach Running Co. banner, becomes the second store in Big Peach’s nascent franchising program and pushes Big Peach to nine locations across metro Atlanta.
Last September, Jay Stephenson and Powell Fulton, who also own and operate GoGo Running in Rome, GA, became the first Big Peach franchisee when they opened the Big Peach storefront in Cartersville, GA.
“We see tremendous opportunity in every community for running specialty stores to have an impact and make their communities better,” Big Peach founder Mike Cosentino says. “At the same time, we recognize there are barriers to accomplishing this, and so we decided to leverage the advantages we’ve acquired over our 18 years in business to become a franchisor.”
In teaming with Big Peach, North GA Running and the GoGo operators both secured access to performance-boosting systems and scale tough to achieve in a single retail door.
While Alex Rodriguez and his wife were confident in North GA Running’s people and product, he saw an opportunity to enhance the retail store’s existing processes with Big Peach’s guidance. On May 20, for example, the couple received a comprehensive review of Big Peach’s Guest Advocate handbook, the company’s ever-evolving manuscript for ensuring a positive guest experience.
As Big Peach’s first franchisee, Stephenson has leveraged Big Peach infrastructure throughout the past year to meet customer needs and drive store results. He has received support from Big Peach’s marketing and operations leads and tapped into key organizational processes, such as the ability to pull inventory from other Big Peach storefronts.
“Operators are often on the floor bell to bell, but here’s the switch they can flip and out comes the formula,” Cosentino says of Big Peach’s franchising program.
To be certain, Big Peach captured its own value in swinging these agreements. In addition to operating an entrenched, community-centric run shop, the Rodriguezes own 10 races around Georgia’s fast-growing Forsyth County. Stephenson, meanwhile, directs a robust coaching program under the Run Free name.
“We chose to work together because we share values, recognize each other’s strengths and know we can be even better together,” Cosentino says.
Might Big Peach’s foray into the franchising game and its deals with local run shop operators prompt other well-established, multi-unit stores across the U.S. to follow suit? Cosentino isn’t so sure.
“This is simple on paper, but it’s much more complex than the paperwork,” he says. “The deals have to make sense and there needs to be a mutual commitment to improve alongside shared values to serve guests and the community.”