Ken Sung of Gazelle Sports is an optimist. He has a new management team in place, which he describes as the “next generation of leadership” for his five stores. He has opened a bagel store with the chef from the farm-to-table restaurant he owns and is convinced the COVID-19 pandemic will make his store and the run specialty channel stronger.

“I choose to be encouraged by where we can go, rather than be depressed with where we’ve been,” Sung says in the Run Matters Podcast now available here.

The changes made at Gazelle include:

  • Personal Shopping Services for Gift Card holders
  • Virtual Fittings and Events
  • A revamped website that includes extensive use of video.

The personal shopper service mirrors what many high-end department stores offer. “We can do it in person or virtually,” Sung explains. “If a customer receives a gift card, we’ll find out what activities they are into and make recommendations accordingly.” Sung says 20 percent of his customers drive 80 percent of his business and this is a way to cater to his core customer.

Gazelle’s website includes heavy use of video, Sung says, to educate and entice customers. “Static photography doesn’t work with who we are. We started using video to promote our track spike business and it was so successful we’ve expanded to show customers what we can do for them.”

E-commerce is a key part of Gazelle’s long-term growth plan and Sung compares the website to windows in the store’s brick-and-mortar locations. “That’s where consumers get their first sense of who you are and start to build trust in you.”

As for the bagel store, Sung had planned to open in April 2020, but the pandemic delayed plans until June of last year. Sung says the store sold out of bagels in its first two weeks in business and has been rolling in dough since then.” He does not cross-promote the bagel store with Gazelle, although the two stores share a common thread in “a healthy lifestyle and community service.”

Trust is an important part of serving existing customers and attracting and retaining new ones, Sung says. “So many positive factors continue to exist for the channel,” Sung says, “if we as retailers stay focused on who we are and what we want to be in our communities.”

To listen to the full interview, click here.