Better days are coming, according to Colin Peddie, owner of 18 running stores in New England.
Peddie, who bought the original Marathon Sports store in Boston 30 years ago and has since purchased stores in Connecticut and New Hampshire, admits the Covid-19 pandemic has been tough on him and his team, but is optimistic that spring will bring a bounce back for the entire channel.
“We have concern for the next five months, but after that we think the future is very bright for run specialty,” Colin said on Run Matters sponsored by Skechers Performance. “There will be attrition in small local businesses but run stores will flourish because there will not be a lot of businesses remaining that engage customers as well as we do. Running stores go above and beyond to build relationships and create experiences for their customers. That happens in their stores as well as through charity events and training programs.”
When the pandemic hit this spring, Marathon quickly pivoted to virtual fittings and handled 100 customers a week. Peddie says that service continues today and doing so allows the store to “stay engaged with our community as well as sell shoes.”
Unlike most other run retailers, Peddie has first hand experience in crisis management. His flagship store on Boylston Street is only 10 yards from the finish line of The Boston Marathon and became a triage center after the 2013 terrorist attack. “When I heard the news, I was on my way to Dick’s with my son to buy him a baseball glove and just sped down to the store,” Peddie recalls. “I hit triple digits on my speedometer because I was so concerned that my staff was okay.”
None of his staff were injured and in fact Peddie and his manager Shane O’Hara were recognized for their service to the community by the Boston Red Sox during the team’s World Series victory parade in October 2013. And Peddie says the lessons he and his team learned then served his business well when COVID-19 hit. “We learned then how important communication was and that’s really helped us get through this period,” Peddie said.
Throughout this entire pandemic, Peddie says he’s reflected on how fortunate he is in business and life.
“All of us in the running business are very lucky,” he said on the podcast. “Running helps us in mind, body and spirit and helps us overcome our challenges whether we are running away from something or towards it.”
For the entire conversation, click here.