Last week, Running Insight reached out to run specialty retailers around the country asking them to share some of their reopening (or planned reopening) strategies and stories. Here’s a sampling of what we found out.
Track Shack of Orlando
• Reopened on May 4, which was Phase 1 for Florida retailers allowing 25 percent capacity. On May 18 they entered Full Phase 2 with 50 percent capacity.
• Betsy Hughes reports that the store created new processes on many things, including mandating that all employees and customers wear masks; having a door person and only one entrance instead of the usual two; lots of signage explaining what six-foot distancing looks like and the proper way to wear a mask or face covering; eight sanitation stations throughout the store; a fitting area spread out to accommodate social distancing that is now on both sides of sales floor; plexiglass at the register; mandatory hand washing after each customer; no more try-on socks; limited store hours; dressing rooms closed except in some instances; evaluating each customer and measuring, but letting most put on and tie their own shoes; and sanitizing all tried-on shoes with Lysol and letting them air out and then put back in stock.
• “We have been very busy,” Hughes says, pointing out that the store’s door person has been incredibly important and is a full-time staff member or owner. “We have not brought back all our part-timers, but all nine full-time and five part-timers are keeping very busy.” And after 42 years of not selling online Track Shack is doing online sales through Fitted. “Our process is definitely working,” Hughes adds. “We have chairs under the awning where customers wait on busy days, six feet apart, of course, and provide water bottles for them. We also provide disposable masks for those unprepared and although we have lost a few customers because they just don’t want to wear a mask, we count that loss as part of doing business. We feel confident in our processes and are excited to once again help our running and walking community.”
Big Peach Running Co.
• Open with modified hours since May 11 and a return to normal hours TODAY, June 1!
• Employees on the floor are always wearing a mask when serving customers, with only two guests allowed in the store for every employee working, up to a maximum of 10 persons in the store at a time. “This helps us both control any potential congestion and the flow of the operation,” says founder Mike Cosentino.
• Cosentino reports that from its reopening date through Memorial Day weekend “sales were strong and customers were seemingly appreciative of our efforts and happy to be making in-store visits.” But, he adds, post-holiday sales have been “noticeably more tepid.”
Oklahoma City, OK
• Reopened on May 1 to appointment-only and some walk-ups as space is available.
• “We are only allowing appointments for fittings and walk-ups for someone who knows exactly what they need,” reports Jon Beck. “We are still doing curbside and online.” They are scheduling four appointments every 40 minutes at one location and two at its smaller store, with a door greeter handling the traffic flow. Masks are required for all in-store patrons.
• “The current process is working for what it is intended to do,” Back says. “We are keeping all customers distanced, cleaning and disinfecting like crazy afterwards, but taking care of everyone. The good side is that all these customers are coming in to shop and make a purchase, so conversion is at an all-time high and sales are showing right now with double-digit growth over last year for the month of May.”
Fleet Feet Rochester @ The Armory; Fleet Feet Rochester Ridgeway; Fleet Feet Rochester Victor; Fleet Feet–Buffalo
• The Armory store has been deemed essential for curbside since March 31. Ridgeway has not been open since March 16. Victor opened for curbside-only on May 21. Buffalo opened May 26. All are part of Phase 1 in New York, with plans to open for appointment-only the first week in June (Buffalo on June 8).
• Appointment only, shortened hours, all employees wearing masks, hand sanitation stations, quarantining product after wear, specific socially distanced fit station areas, no fitting rooms.
• “How do I say this without being negative?” asks Ellen Brenner, VP & CFO of Fleet Feet Rochester and YellowJacket Racing. “The process has been grueling and the current business situation is not good. But we are hopeful.”
Aardvark Sports Shop
• Still closed, but processing on-line and phone orders. Planned limited re-opening for June 5.
• Limit of six people (including staff) in store at any time, masks must be worn and fitting appointments encouraged.
• Owner Bruce Haines estimates the store is currently doing about 50 percent of its normal business.
Ridgefield Running Company
• Closed March 15, started online sales a week later and reopened May 20.
• Doing appointments-only (every 30 minutes with 10-minute buffer) but will take a walk-ins if less than three customers are in the store. Customers’ temperatures taken and they have to wear a mask. Each fitter is assigned one fit bench for the day.
• “We have a 100 percent conversion rate on appointments, everyone is walking out with a product,” says Megan Searfoss, with units per transaction up and dollars-per-sale up $30. “People are enjoying the attention of appointments and that’s maybe part of what we do from now on.”
The Running Place
Newtown Square, PA
• Opening June 5.
• Limiting capacity, extra disinfecting and sanitizing, social distancing.
• Business is “way down,” but opening up this week will make things better, but more labor intensive.
Up and Running
• Opened in May with varied hours.
• Two days a week are set aside specifically for appointments for those that are uneasy being out, reports Susie Stein. All staff wear masks and request customers to do the same or they fit them outside.
• “It is challenging to be open with varied opinions on the virus,” says Stein. “We are just trying to protect our customers and our staff, but business is good.”
• Reopened to the public on Saturday, May 30.
• Customer limit of three at a time in the store; call aheads are encouraged so they can provide a private shopping experience; Mask Up. No Shoes, No Shirt, No Mask, No Service; all customers asked to sanitize upon entry; continuous social distancing; limited contact/touch; thorough cleaning of fit stations and any product that has been touched or tried on; stay home if sick.
• General manager Christopher Schiel reports the store has been doing curbside pickup and free home delivery for the past 10 weeks, handled just by the owner and manager. “As six additional employees return to work, our focus is on developing these processes into consistent habits as well as empowering our staff to comfortably approach difficult conversations with customers who may be unwilling to comply with our reopening guidelines,” he says. “That doesn’t just mean those who don’t want to wear a mask, but other common scenarios like what do we do if a family of four walks in, etc.”
• Had a soft opening on May 9 with limited store occupancies and they continue to recommend curbside pickup and on-line sales.
• The state allows one person per 300-square feet. Owner Bob Bischoff says the store has a comprehensive entry program displayed plus proper spacing, face protection, counter safety and cleaning.
• Bischoff reports that In April the store did about 40 percent of its normal business, but May looks like it will be slightly above 2019 numbers.