When Steve Moore opened Run Moore seven years ago, recovery wasn’t so much a category in his in Westminster, MD, store as it was a small collection of random items. Moore carried different lengths of The Stick, one of the recovery category’s standard-bearers, and a basic foam roller.
“And it wasn’t uncommon for me to get on the ground and demonstrate how to use the foam roller,” Moore says.
Today, however, the recovery category is robust and profitable at Run Moore.
Moore’s shop is stocked with CBD products from Floyd’s of Leadville, various compression products from Pro-Tec, OS1st and others, Hoka One One recovery sandals, recovery drinks and contoured rollers as well as well as various massage tools, including the recovery category’s latest gem, percussive massage devices. In good months, Moore says, recovery accounts for about 10 percent of his store’s overall sales.
“And I can’t remember the last time I had to get on the ground with a foam roller,” he jokes.
Moore’s tale is a familiar one in the run specialty world, where the recovery category has exploded over the last decade and pulled run shops along for the ride.
Recovery Goes Mainstream
Once a field largely dominated by a recovery drink or two, The Stick and the basic foam roller, the recovery category today consists of next-level rollers with textures, channels and ridges that make the traditional foam roller look like a relic, numerous post-workout beverages, recovery footwear, CBD creams, bars and gummies, vibrating massage tools and various compression devices ranging from calf sleeves, socks and tights to high-tech boots.
Such rampant product innovation continues fueling more widespread interest in the category from runners and non-runners alike.
“Recovery isn’t just for the hard-care athletes any more, but something for folks to have everyday,” says Skip Brand, owner of the Healdsburg Running Company in northern California. “It’s not at all uncommon to have a longer conversation about recovery with customers because people are curious and there’s a bigger belief in recovery product.”
The “mainstreaming” of recovery product, Brand adds, has accelerated the category at his shop. Just as vendors have improved their packaging and marketing of recovery products, hitting on key details such as improved muscle recovery, performance and rest, consumers themselves have become more aware of the importance of recovery. With hard data in hand courtesy of technology that monitors heart rate and sleep, for example, consumers see value in rest and recovery-aiding items like never before.
“When something crosses over from specialty run to every day, it’s an easier sell,” Brand says, adding that stocking a broad assortment of recovery-oriented products has helped Healdsburg Running Company expand its clientele, propel repeat visits, spur referrals from medical professionals and boost sales.
Four Ways To Spotlight Recovery
Though consumers are more aware of the recovery category than ever before and a flood of products continue driving attention to recovery, run shops must still actively promote, sincerely discuss and strategically position recovery products in their showrooms to maximize sales opportunities. Here are four ways to accomplish just that.
1: Provide Demos and Samples
At Run Moore, demo models of two percussive massage devices Ð the TriggerPoint Impact and a Theragun model Ð sit at eye level near the shoe wall alongside a “Try Me” label. When perusing the footwear wall or amid some quiet time during the sit-and-fit experience, Moore says customers cannot resist picking up one of the devices and trying it.
“It’s like a gravitational pull,” Moore says. “And when people feel it and see their muscles rippling and experience the easy feeling of relief, the product sells itself.”
An experiential area for such items Ð albeit one governed by sanitary practices in the age of COVID-19 Ð can undoubtedly help spark intrigue and, in time, sales. So, too, can offering single-serve samples of CBD products or recovery drinks.
“Giving people a literal taste of a product before they buy it is something Amazon can’t do and it’s the way to get people familiar with product,” Brand says.
2: Share Personal Experiences
Perhaps more important than allowing customers to trial items is getting staff familiar with recovery products, so they can willingly share their experiences with customers.
At Ohio-based Up and Running, owner Susie Stein has numerous competitive athletes on staff who talk religiously about the value of recovery in their lives and the products they use. As staff grow comfortable with a product in their own lives, Stein says they are then better positioned to introduce and discuss recovery items with customers.
“Once our staff uses a recovery product, they want to talk about it,” Stein says. “And if they believe in a product, then that translates into their conversations with customers and it sells.”
Moore’s belief in CBD regularly spurs sales at Run Moore. While any conversation about the CBD products often starts with skepticism Ð Does this work? Is it legal? Ð Moore answers those questions and details his own experience.
“And more often than not, someone is willing to give it a try for a few bucks,” he says.
3: Use The Social Megaphone
While footwear and apparel can capture so much social media love, stores should not ignore recovery products. Highlight different solutions to problems, product features and, above all, product benefits.
Numerous run shops have done this in earnest, from sharing simple product photos to instructional-style videos of staff discussing or using products themselves to generate attention and introduce recovery as something essential to training, not something separate from it.
“A video showing a Theragun moving a muscle isn’t too tough,” Brand says, reminding that social media remains a quick, effective way to spread information to the masses.
4: Merchandise With A Purpose
From the front windows to in-store arrangements, product placement and savvy merchandising can jolt interest in and sales of recovery products as well.
At Up and Running, customers cannot access the store’s footwear area without passing the vibration and massage devices, a strategic play on Stein’s part to pique guests’ curiosity.
“When people are waiting, this is inevitably what they’re playing with,” she says.
At Run Moore, CBD products sit prominently near the register. That calculated placement frequently stimulates conversation as customers complete their transaction.
“People are drawn to it when they’re standing there and, outside of shoes, it’s the product we get asked about more than anything else,” Moore says.
And rather than placing his plantar fasciitis recovery socks from OS1st and Feetures amid the store’s other socks, Moore places those items near other medical-type items.
“In doing so, we clearly mark these socks as something different,” Moore says. “That allows us to talk about the product in a different way and provides more credibility.”