Spotlight on Specialty presented by Saucony Features Aktive Soles Performance Footwear

Welcome to the eighth in our series of articles showcasing specialty run and outdoor retail stores focusing on their commitment to trail running through their in-store programs, brand inclusion, events and more. Spotlight on Specialty is presented by Saucony. AKtive Soles Performance Footwear is an American Trail Running Association single-track member.

AKtive Soles Performance Footwear is located in historic downtown Palmer, Alaska, a small town with a big personality worthy of the largest state in the union. The mountain views from anywhere in town are jaw-dropping and there is quick access to trails for running, hiking and skiing. Located in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, Palmer is fortunate to have large trail running and hiking communities where visitors will see folks running through town for the weekly Happy Run or at other community events.

Our executive director Nancy Hobbs spoke with AKtive Soles’ Marketing and Race Director Theresa Pipek to learn more about the store and local trail running community.

[Nancy] Share with our audience three featured trail running-related programs you promote at AKtive Soles.
[Theresa] Our Thursday Night Run Series is a super fun, family and budget-friendly run series that we host each Fall to highlight local trails in the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Valley. We also organize Soles In The Backcountry (SITBC) which is a self-paced summer event that we started in the hopes of encouraging our community to become more familiar and comfortable in our own wild backyard. Each participant buys a booklet to choose and then track various adventures. Finally, there’s Solstice Run, a late June event where we celebrate the longest day of the year with an evening race, endless sunshine and festive community spirit.

[Nancy] How have you showcased trail-running brands and products in your store?
[Theresa] We have knowledgeable, sharp-looking employees who model our shoes as well as attractive displays throughout the store. In addition, we have periodic “demo nights” at our weekly Happy Run on Monday nights (rain or shine) where participants have the opportunity to try out new product.

[Nancy] What is one positive lesson you’ve learned from integrating trail running programs into your store?
[Theresa] Carrying trail running products has given us the opportunity to interact with our community and to better choose our inventory to meet their needs.

[Nancy] What advice do you have for other store owners who have yet to feature trail running products?
[Theresa] Trail events tend to be less formal than road races and allow for more authentic community interactions.

[Nancy] What are three tips you have for individuals considering getting into trail running?
[Theresa]  Firstly I’d recommend always telling someone where you are going. Second, find a retail store you trust to help you purchase proper fitting shoes and gear. Buying online may be more convenient, but there’s no substitute for trying on many different shoes and getting expert advice. Finally, there is no finish line, choose your own pace and have fun.

[Nancy] Has the percentage of sales geared to trail increased at your store over the past three to five years?
[Theresa] Yes it has, primarily because we started carrying more trail-related inventory.

[Nancy] What are some other events you support through the store?
[Theresa] Coming up first is the Crazy Lazy Mountain Race on March 21. A week after our Solstice Run on June 27 is the little a triathlon at the Matanuska Lakes State Recreation Area. This approachable multi-sport race features a 4 mile trail run and funds raised go to a local family with a child receiving treatment for cancer. On October 3rd is the Mountain Rescue Challenge, which raises funds to go toward critical gear updates, volunteer training and also a truck cap for the towing truck.

AKtive Soles Contact Information:

Facebook page:
Instagram: @aktivesoles
Years in Business: 11 years
Owner: Anne Thomas
Manager: Cathy Havins
Address: 642 S Alaska St # 100, Palmer, AK 99645
Phone: (907) 746-0600

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