Not a 2016 year in review but a look at the year ahead - written by Boots
It’s that time of year when you look back and reflect on everything that took place over the last 365 days. Well I don’t want to do that. For one I can’t remember half of what we did. Heck I usually don’t even know what day of the week it is, and two, it’s so much better to look ahead to see where you will be not just where you have been. To me looking forward is often a reflection of all the hard work you’ve been doing in the past. It’s the finish line of all the bricks that were laid, all the miles that were run.
So what does 2017 look like for Fleet Feet Sports, YellowJacket Racing and the communities we serve? It looks new and exciting, it's lots of opportunities to be healthy, have fun and to meet new people. It's high energy and lots of support.
Here’s a small peak into what lies ahead.
- The Evolution of Footwear Fit. We have been working with a vendor partner and a handful of other very select retailers in developing a new way to better fit our customers. We will be testing and using amazing new techniques and technology to help you find the absolute best fitting footwear. I spent a week in the Pacific North West working with our vendor and will be in North Carolina soon for more work, it’s really exciting to see what is coming and to help develop it. I’ve been fitting footwear since 1992 and the only update to the process was in 2004 when Fleet Feet Sports introduced a standardized Fit Process that most in the industry have since replicated. What is coming next takes it to a whole new level, it’s really cool and we are excited to be one of a handful of stores selected nationally to be on the beta test team.
- Exclusive product just for us. In 2017 we will become the exclusive retail partner in the US for Karhu Running footwear. What makes this exciting is that we have a say in the development of the product which is unheard of in our industry. Recently I spent a few days in Asolo, Italy working at Design & Development Inc alongside the owners of Karhu. We examined where the product currently is, what the next versions are like and most importantly the versions after that. We discussed fit, feel, comfort, mesh, overlays, everything that makes a shoe. The goal is to help build a truly outstanding running shoe using the feedback that we hear every day from the fit stool.
- New events. It could be races, it could be fun runs, it could be something totally unexpected but we will be launching a lot of new and exciting events for everyone to enjoy. We always want to provide opportunities for the community to come together and have some fun while being healthy. We were the first with pub runs and scavenger hunts, diva nights and medical nights. We are making all of our plans now to roll out a bunch of new events that we think you will really enjoy so be sure to stay tuned.
- Enhanced Training Programs. We have been offering training programs since we opened our doors in 2004. We are lucky in that we now have some of the largest and most well respected programs in the running industry. In 2017 we will work hard to make each and every training program we offer even better. It’s exciting to help thousands of runners every year achieve their goals. Some we have taken from the couch (No Boundaries) to the finish line of an Ultra in just a few short years. Programs are always evolving and 2017 will see more amenities and support for all of our participants. Our coaches, mentors and pace teams are the best around. We were the first to offer such services and we are always working to improve them so be ready for some great training in 2017.
- Project 20-21. Early in the fall at one of our employee staff meetings Ellen and I announced to the team that we are committing to have a minimum wage of $20.00 per hour by the end of 2021 for all of our employees. This is on top of the current benefits we provide including health insurance contribution, 401k w/ matching and paid time off. Now this is no small task but it is a really important one. Our staff are our most important resource. They work really hard activating all of the things we want to do for our communities. They work hard to provide an exceptional experience to every person they service. We want them to feel confident that they can make a career with us, one they can be proud of. Working in retail is never easy but we know our team is worth the investment.
- New products. We are always on the search for new products for runners/walkers to enjoy. Just in the first week of December we brought in 3 new vendors that have not been available in our markets (running artwork, SMD apparel, Momentum Wraps). We’ve always been the ones to innovate and have launched dozens of brands in our markets before any other retailer (Hoka, ON, Tailwind, Kari Traa just to name a few). We will continue to search out new products and brands that can make running more fun and enjoyable.
- New special pricing on select product categories. We know running can get kind of expensive with all the cool new things that come out and race entry fee’s always getting higher. While our business is built around high service and knowledge we try to be aware of how pricing can affect people.
- Did you know that when a new model of shoe comes out the previous model instantly drops in price by 20%, both in our stores and on our website? This will continue in 2017
- Track and Field and Cross Country competition footwear will now be reduced by 20% off MSRP every day of the year in our stores. Having kids in sports can get expensive, so we hope this can help.
- Trail shoes will now be special priced every day of the year in store. We know that for most runners, trail shoes are a second or third pair after your daily road trainers. We also know that running trails is so much fun and we want to get more people out doing it and it best to have proper footwear. We are not allowed by vendor agreements to say what the special pricing is but trust me, every day, all year, all trail shoes will be specially priced.
- Expanded Fleet Feet Racing Team. Since we opened in 2004 we have always supported a local race team that represented our stores. In 2017 we are improving, enhancing, upgrading and adding to it so more people in our communities can enjoy the benefits of being a member. For the first time there will be a Fleet Feet Racing team wearing the neon and black Splatter in Buffalo. In the 7run6 there will be club, race and endurance team options. In Rochester we are expanded the team and making unique divisions. There will be a youth team for those 17 and under. Club and race teams each with their own programs, endurance team and Elite Team. Each division will have its own perks and goals and most of all they are all built around the idea of growing and supporting runners in our cities
- Workplace Fit. This is our corporate outreach program which we have been testing in 2016 and will make more available in 2017. We know people are busy. We also know businesses want their employees to be healthy, which is why we take “the show on the road.” Businesses of all sizes can work with us where we bring the product, knowledge and experts of Fleet Feet Sports right to where you work. How fortunate it is to be able to get fit right at work and head home with new shoes, yup we do that.
So looking into 2017 you can see we are going to be busy, exactly what we like. Busy means we are doing more to build our communities. We are getting more people outside working out, getting healthy and exploring. We love seeing more people pushing themselves setting goals and working hard to achieve them. For 2017 we will do everything we can to assist as many people as we can in reaching those goals, whether it’s finishing a 5k, completing an ultra or hitting those 10,000 steps a day.
Best of luck with your 2017, we hope to see you; in the store, out for a walk, at the races, on the trails, training with us, having fun, getting fit, making friends…………
Regards, Boots, Ellen and the entire team at Fleet Feet Sports and YellowJacket Racing