The Running Industry Association’s (RIA) annual member summit, set for May 8-11, in Chicago, IL, will not only feature 180 retailers representing 80 stores, 20 top footwear, apparel and accessory brands, 14 emerging brands and six business partners that are part of this two-and-a-half-day event. It will also mark the debut of the association’s Product Data Collaborative (PDC), launching this summer.

“We are excited to host the third annual Runchella event later this month in Chicago,” Terry Shallow, RIA executive director, tells Running Insight. “This year attendees have been provided with multiple options for connecting with our brand and associate partners, making it a true ‘Your show. Your way.’ experience. 

“In addition, we are thrilled to announce some major new membership benefits, including the accessible-to-all RIA Product Data Collaborative,” he adds. “Our goal is to continually add value for our members each year, with this year being a big one.”

The PDC Database Explained

The PDC is described as a democratized, universal database that removes the burden of gathering, formatting and managing brand product data by providing a repository that centralizes and standardizes the information. It’s simple — brands provide seasonal product data and the system standardizes it for retailers to easily create product assortments for upload to POS providers, e-commerce and digital marketing solutions.

The PDC includes hard and soft data that includes model, SKU, UPC/EAN, color (description and code), size, width, wholesale cost, retail price, MAP and images.  

Schalow emphasizes that the PDC is neither a digital product catalog nor a competitor for any online tools provided by brands or third-party platforms. Instead, it is quite simply a “single source of truth,” a repository for secure clean, standardized brand data, available to all. In this fashion, the PDC acts to support brand and third-party tools and services.  

The ultimate goal is to save time and money for retailers, brands and associate members by sharing and managing product data. For retailers, this means dramatically reducing the resources currently required to collect and manually format data from brands. For brands, it increases data quality and efficiency and minimizes data inquiries from retailers. 

As a neutral entity within the run specialty channel, the RIA is uniquely suited to provide a centralized repository for brand product data, creating easy access for all existing platforms or tools that require product data and avoiding potential productization of data.

Other Runchella 2023 Happenings 

Connection has always been the keystone of the event where running, chatting, working, eating and drinking with industry colleagues rules the day. Here are some of the flagship Runchella experiences:

Brand + Retailer Meetings: This year retailers get to choose what brands they want to see during the two days of sessions that include brand overviews, business planning sessions with sales managers, one-on-ones with executives, product demos and technical discussions. 

• Business Partner Sessions: Attendees can also dive into training for digital business tools (marketing, POS, e-commerce), market data presentations, merchandise advice and more. 

• Daily Group Runs: Each day a sponsor (ASICS, Saucony and emerging brand crew) will lead a run through the streets of Chicago, plus offer a product experience and swag for those willing to get out of bed early. 

• Specialty Run + DEI: There will be an informative panel discussion, in collaboration with the Running Industry Diversity Coalition, focused on what stores and brands are doing to drive the channel forward and make progress on DEI initiatives.  

The Runchella Skyline Party, Sponsored by Brooks: This pinnacle evening event allows attendees to connect casually in a social, lively environment overlooking the Chicago skyline.


RIA To Induct Four Into Run Specialty Hall of Fame

Four industry veterans, including Mark Sullivan, co-founder of The Running Event and the former editor of Running Insight, will be inducted into the Run Specialty Hall of Fame during the opening reception at the RIA member summit, Runchella, in Chicago, on May 8, 2023.  

Joining Sullivan in the Class of 2023 will be retailers Pat and Jan Sweeney, of Fleet Feet Sacramento, along with Ted Goodlake, of On Running.  

The Hall of Fame was initiated in 2006 and since then there have been 50 inductees, including industry leaders such as Don Lucas from Luke’s Locker, Ellen Wessel, the founder of Moving Comfort, and Fred Lebow, the long-time director of the New York City Marathon. 

The intent of the award is to spotlight individuals pushing the run specialty channel forward by contributing to the health and prosperity of the industry. Whether through innovation, leadership or peer support, each inductee has made run specialty better in a unique way. 

“The RIA is thrilled to reboot this important recognition in 2023 after a multi-year hiatus,” says Terry Schalow, RIA executive director. “This year’s inductees have been pivotal to run specialty, and I’m personally excited to be a part of honoring them at Runchella in front of their industry peers.” 

Starting in 2023, the RIA will manage the nomination and selection process as the industry’s trade organization. This year, nominees for the three categories (brand, retailer and industry influencer) were vetted by the Hall of Fame committee, chaired by John Benedict, and made the final appointment. 

For the 2024 class, members and non-members will nominate industry standouts based on their contributions and the committee will cast a final vote.