The Merchandising Doctor gives Boulder Running Company royal sock treatment

Boulder Running Company (BRC), a top specialty running store located in Boulder, Colo., features gear for every level runner and needed the merchandising doctor to help it diagnose problems with its product mix and displays. The doctor is in and SNEWS has the scoop.

The patient: Boulder Running Company (BRC) a top specialty running store located in Boulder, Colo., features gear for every level runner and is well-known for its ability to custom fit customers. There's even a treadmill in the store on which customers can try out shoes before purchasing them for the road or trail.

The diagnosis: Merchandise was organized by brand within each category, but categories were not clear and blended into one another, making finding product challenging for the consumer. The sock assortment was split up on multiple walls, women’s socks were mixed in with men’s, insoles were mixed in with sock displays, and the SmartWool brand socks were tucked in between Keen and Chaco footwear.


In addition, men’s clothing was scattered all around the clothing department, making it difficult to find. Plus, the most compelling and colorful collection – BRC’s private label running clothing – was on a back wall that couldn't be seen until customers left the store.

The treatment: Clarify product categories by telling fewer stories on each wall and develop a more cohesive flow to merchandise, paying particular attention to socks.

Every change was made with the goal of increasing overall sock sales and to make selling the enormous sock inventory easier for sales staff.

The process: The wall rework was done in a little over three hours with the work of two people. Important steps in the process included:

  • The store manager set clear goals, making teamwork effortless.
  • The sales staff gave input and communicated with manager prior to product movement.
  • Work was completed before the store opened – both to speed up the process and not impact customer experience.

How we did it:

>> Sock categories were cleaned up first by style, which took up the majority of our time.

>> Wall with Keen, Chaco and insole products was set once SmartWool was removed which made more room for menswear merchandise and a primary sock wall. Gotta love the domino effect of visual merchandising!

>> Next we removed the men’s clothing that was hidden on the back wall, and replaced it with SmartWool product (directly across from the primary sock wall). 

>> Fixtures were reworked, duplicate inventory was backstocked and a small amount of space was left in between product stories.

>> Primary wall with menswear was reset spotlighting the BRC clothing that had been hidden. With this wall rework, men’s clothing gained approximately four feet and the department became more cohesive.

Results:According to Amanda Charles, general manager and apparel and accessories buyer, the Boulder Running Company sold 60 more pairs of SmartWool socks in the week immediately after the change and experienced an increase of sales in all sock brands for the month of October!

Robin Enright is the founder of Merchandising Matters, an agency providing visual merchandising support to brands and retailers and is the merchandising editor for SNEWS.

Want merchandising support? Email the SNEWS merchandising help team at to have your merchandising challenge considered for publication in a Merchandising Doctor column. There is no cost for an initial consult by Robin, and if you are tapped to be featured in our Merchandising Doctor column, the advice and guidance leading to a fix (up to four hours of merchandising time – either in person or a virtual consult) is free. Actual hard costs such as new fixtures, lighting, travel expenses and more are the responsibility of the retailer.


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