Max's Journey into the 2014 Running Event Part 1: Arriving to Austin and feeling the energy and vibes, by Max Lockwood

Jim Dion speaking at TRE 2014, photo by Jana Birchum

Max Lockwood wrote this series for us on The Running Event. TRE is the single most important event for the running trade in North America. The Formula 4 Media crew put all on the line in 2006 when they started this show, and they have created an icon. This event is a living, breathing entity. What Formula 4 gets most of all that this business is a community. From runs to parties to seminars, TRE is something to be experienced for those in the business of running. 

This is part 1 of Max Lockwood's series on TRE and his experiences and observations in Austin, Texas during the December 2-5, 2014 conference. 

Max's Journey into the 2014 Running Event Part 1: Arriving to Austin and feeling the energy and vibes.


Parker Karnan, Executive Director of the IRRA, photo by Jana Birchum

For the past 9 years, a small but growing trade show called the The Running Event, has been taking place in early December in Austin, Texas. The Running Event, a creation of Formula4Media, a New York based media company, has been producing the Event on an annual basis since 2006.  From the outset, the plan was to create a trade show that would bring specialty running store retailers together with product companies in order to have them meet and do business.  In addition to the vendor and retail connection, the trade show has and does feature a variety of guest speakers and lecturers from the business sector with a special emphasis and understanding of retail, running product development, sales and marketing.  

Every year, the trade show improves and this year's Event was considered by myself and the other attendees I spoke with, to be the best one yet. I arrived on Tuesday and as usual, found the trip to the Austin Convention Center from the airport a quick and efficient experience.  When I arrived at the Holiday Inn I immediately could sense the Running Event in my nostrils. It is almost as if the smell of fresh and new running shoes dominated the hotel lobby and the easygoing laughter and chatter of runners was all around me.  Within my immediate vicinity were men and women all wearing the latest and greatest in running gear along with unique and slick running shoes. In particular, I noticed a large contingent of people wearing Newton running shoes and I quickly figured out that Newton Running was having their annual sales conference at the hotel.  I said my hellos, checked into my room, and got ready to hit the first day of the The Running Event.

As I walked over to the Austin Convention Center it was painfully obvious that a meeting of running experts was in the works.  It was a great feeling to see the various vendors, retailers and other attendees line up, wander about and make their way to the registration table. 

The registration went smooth and I quickly proceeded to walk about and found myself heading over to attend one of the presentations on Customer Retention from Ray Pugsley of Potomac River Running and Dan Rosenbluth and Todd Howerter of the Rewards 4 Group. Though the average person might not truly appreciate and understand the true value of retaining one's customer, to this crowd, they were all in.  Anyone who has ever worked in a running store knows how demanding customers can be and the art of staying in business and growing is 1) making your customers happy and 2) growing the number of them coming to your store. The seminar was packed and there was a nice presentation and subsequent give and take between the presenters and the attendees about the different methods and technologies used for creating more value for one's store and its services and retaining customers year after year.

These seminars provide a breath of fresh air, new insights and an opportunity for retailers to learn new tricks of the trade and business tactics to help grow their respective businesses. 

Says Kris Hartner of Naperville Running... "The training sessions at TRE are always the most talked about part of the week. The information shared comes directly from our peers who are willing to share their successes with the rest of us in order to better the entire channel. Every store does things that other stores never thought to do - sharing of these best practices just makes sense".

Along with the educational seminars, break out sessions and speaking engagements, there were lots of other displays of passion going on at the same time.  As I darted out of the Retaining Your Customer session I found myself quickly engaged in the adjoining room where Trigger Point Massage Therapy had rented out the room to showcase their newest line of products. Their staff was engaging and informative making the experience both educational and enjoyable.  At Trigger Point, I was lucky to corner the founder of the brand, Cassidy Phillips and get a more in depth tutorial on Trigger Point and all of the wonders it can do to speed recovery and produce a more flexible and pain free athlete.

In our next segment we continue to discuss more offerings at the Event including a much-anticipated dialogue between management at the Finish Line, the owners of the Running Specialty Group and independent storeowners.

Part 2 The Finish Line presents to independently owned and operated running store owners


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