Carrboro, N.C. – Fleet Feet Sports, the retail leader in building thriving local running communities, held its annual National Franchise Conference in Huntington Beach, Calif. June 19-24. The event saw close to 800 attendees over six days and included educational sessions and workshops, keynote presentations and speakers, the premiere of the brand’s first-ever documentary, the launch of a Fleet Feet Sports-exclusive running shoe by ASICS, an expo featuring 94 vendors, and representation by 150 Fleet Feet Sports locations nationwide.
The conference culminated in the brand’s awards banquet, hosted by John Garcia of ABC 7 Chicago and Kyung Lah, national correspondent for CNN Los Angeles. Eleven stores received grants totaling nearly $28,000 to support ongoing charitable efforts in their respective communities.
The awards banquet also served as the film premiere of the brand documentary, which chronicles the founding of the brand in 1976 through its most recent accomplishments in 2016, and includes interviews with co-founders Sally Edwards and Elizabeth Jansen; former CEO, president, and chairman Tom Raynor; and other notable figures and leaders in Fleet Feet Sports’ history.
“It’s a true testament to what Elizabeth and Sally began 40 years ago in Sacramento that we were able to have close to 800 people, including owners, vendor partners, staff, and friends, take part in that celebration with us,” says Jeff Phillips, CEO and president of Fleet Feet Sports.
“Through the process of preparing for this event, we wanted to do two things: create a celebratory atmosphere that honored the people and milestones that have helped us get to where we are today, and generate excitement, thought, and urgency about what our brand and stores need to do to remain relevant and accessible to the customer for the next 40 years. I know we did just that.”
Additional highlights include:
- The presentation of the first-ever Customer Inspiration Award to Rebecca Kowalski, a customer of the Fleet Feet Sports store in West Hartford, Conn. Kowalski, a recipient of the 2015 The Power of Running to Inspire award co-presented by Mizuno and Fleet Feet Sports, created the Chase Michael Anthony Kowalski Foundation in honor of the life and legacy of her son Chase.
- The debut of a limited-edition, Fleet Feet Sports-exclusive running shoe. The ASICS Dynaflyte Fleet Feet Sports 40th Anniversary Edition retails for $140 and is available now in-stores and online at fleetfeetsports.com.
- A 40-year history of the sport and industry of running delivered by retired industry executive and leader Fred Doyle.
- A keynote presentation entitled “The Third Wave of Retail” by Lee Peterson, executive vice president of WD Partners.
- A panel of industry executives featuring Jim Weber, chairman and CEO of Brooks; Chris O’Donnell, vice president of global sales for Nike; and Pat O’Malley, president of Saucony.
- Strategic breakout sessions co-facilitated by Chris Ladd, executive vice president of consumer experience and demand creation at New Balance and Brad Hledik, running specialty channel sales director for Nike, as well as presentations by Mark King, president of adidas Group North America, and Paul Bowyer, senior business unit director of running for adidas.
- The awarding of 11 Scholarships of Achievement, a recognition that has helped more than 160 young people associated with Fleet Feet Sports pursue their educational goals and career aspirations.
- The “40-Year Dash” Block Party featuring six separate and simultaneously occurring themed parties at Huntington Beach locations, all decorated in the theme of specific decades. Vendor partners adidas, Asics, Brooks, Mizuno, New Balance and Saucony sponsored the event.
National Franchise Conference by the Numbers:
- 150 stores represented
- 775 total attendees
- 37 Fleet Feet Inc. staff members attendees
- 94 total expo vendors
- 17 first-time expo vendors
– Grant Recipients –
The following Fleet Feet Sports franchise locations received grants:
- Augusta, Ga., for its Hope for Augusta 5K training and education program, courtesy of Nike.
- Baltimore, Md., for its work with Mission FIT Baltimore, which provides gym resources for impoverished kids, courtesy of Investors Management Corp.
- Wayne, Ind., for its work with Turnstone program to train athletes with disabilities, courtesy of Balega.
- Greensboro, N.C., for its work with Fleet Feet Pickle to support Backpack Beginnings and Comfort Back Pack, courtesy of ASICS.
- Monterey, Calif., for its work with the VetFit 5k program for veterans, courtesy of Mizuno.
- Pleasant, S.C., for its work with Girls with Sole, 5k training program, and as a Global Running day beneficiary, courtesy of Superfeet.
- Richmond, Va., for its work with the Cameron Gallagher foundation, supporting mental health and wellness for suffering teens, courtesy of Saucony.
- Savannah, Ga., for its work with Rape Crisis, courtesy of Hoka One One.
- Tucson, Ariz., for its work with Community Kicks, courtesy of Brooks.
- Tulsa, Okla., for its work with Zoomerangs, youth running program for Title I schools, courtesy of adidas.
- Winston-Salem, N.C., for its work with Mission Feet First , courtesy of New Balance.
– Scholarship of Achievement Recipients –
The following students and Fleet Feet Sports store employees received scholarships:
- Valerie Gantert, Chicago, Ill.
- Ashley Rewick, Chico, Calif.
- Virginia DeLeon, Corpus Christi, Texas
- Destani Welch, Des Moines, Iowa
- Vincent Bardini, Folsom, Calif.
- Melissa Muchler, Huntersville, N.C.
- Alex Horner, Kingsport, Tenn.
- Alex Mimlitz, Nashville, Tenn.
- Michael Kelly, Savannah, Ga.
- Carrianne Waldera, Stockton, Calif.
- Taylor Rewick, Vacaville, Calif.
– Store / Owner Anniversaries –
The following Fleet Feet Sports franchise owners are celebrating 10-year anniversaries:
- Heather and Jody Herzog, Cleveland, Ohio
- Arlene and Charles Woodruff, Albany, N.Y.
- Emily and Keith Davis, Winston-Salem, N.C.
- Brett Lamb, San Francisco, Calif.
- Kathy and Bob Morris, Raleigh, N.C.
- Dawn and Tim Carter, Burlington, V.T.
The following Fleet Feet Sports franchise owners are celebrating 15-year anniversaries:
- Andrea and Russ Gunnell, Fayetteville, Ark.
The following Fleet Feet Sports franchise owners are celebrating 20-year anniversaries:
- Lisa and Dave Zimmer, Chicago, Ill.
- Chris and JD Denton, Davis, Calif.