Welcome to the sixth 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.
Fleet Feet Davenport is located a short 5 miles from some of the area’s best running trails. They’ve been happily serving the Quad Cities Area (QCA) since March of 2016. The Quad Cities are composed of Davenport & Bettendorf on the Iowa side and Rock Island & Moline on the Illinois side, split by the Mississippi River. Whether you’re looking for challenging single track or small rolling hills on an island, the QCA has something for you!
Our executive director Nancy Hobbs spoke with store manager Michelle Burken to learn more about Fleet Feet Davenport.
[Nancy] What are some of the trail running programs at your store?
[Michelle] We have a Fall Trails Training program, designed to build and grow a love for trail running among runners who may be new to being off road or those who want to more experience with the trail community and local trails. This 8-week program builds up to the Living History Farms Off-Road Race, a 10k near Des Moines, IA each year in late November.
We also partner with a local gym to produce a night time trail race every August called Race the Night at a local trail. There are 7k, 14k and full marathon options. We partner with trail shoe brands and Petzl to offer demo shoes and headlamps for the runners to use or purchase.
We also partner with Saucony to host a Run Anywhere trail event where participants can demo shoes, have a beer & snacks, and their fee for the event is a direct donation to the local mountain bike group who builds and maintains most of the area’s trails.
[Nancy] How have you showcased trail-running brands and products in your store?
[Michelle] We created a trail wall section with all of the shoe models displayed as well as many common items someone may want for the trail such as headlamps, buffs, hydration packs and Squirrel’s Nut Butter.
[Nancy] What is one positive lesson you have learned from integrating trail running programs into your store?
[Michelle] It’s a great way to give people an awesome experience and community they may not find with road running. Many of the participants have never run trails before but feel more comfortable doing so in a group with guidance on technique, routes and products that can help them enjoy it more. It’s also a great way for those who have trained for a goal race to focus less on pace and more on the enjoyment of being in nature.
[Nancy] Do you have any advice to other store owners who have yet to feature trail?
[Michelle] Trail shoes can be great for other things than just trail running. Think of people who may want extra traction in snowy conditions, the customers who may want a shoe for hiking or just something more durable. Offering trail options in footwear and events like First Day Hikes can also help broaden your customer base for those who may not identify themselves as a runner.
[Nancy] What are your top three tips for individuals considering getting into trail running?
- [Michelle] Don’t look at your watch. You’ll be moving slower than on the road and that’s one of the best parts of trail running. You get to focus on the fun and beauty of being in nature as well as doing your body a favor by being on softer and more dynamic surfaces.
- Always prepare to be out longer than you anticipate. Part of the fun in exploring new trails is getting a little lost but I know I don’t want to be without snacks and water for too long! If you’re well prepared, then when you see a cool off shoot of a trail you can take instead of needing to turn back.
- Leave the trails better than you found them. Don’t leave any trash (bonus points for picking some up if you spot it!) Volunteer on trail build days, pay attention if the trails are closed due to excessive rains.
[Nancy] Has the percentage of sales geared to trail increased at your store over the past three to five years?
[Michelle] We have grown about 40% in our trail footwear sales from 2018 to 2019, in part because of the events, programs and races we host/sponsor.
[Nancy] Which area trail running races supported through the store?
[Michelle] Check out the popular Hennepin Hundred which will be on October 3-4 2020, Living History Farms Off Road Race in November or Race the Night, which takes place in August.
[Nancy] Other non-race events offered through the store?
[Michelle] We host the Saucony Run Anywhere Trail Run in April and have other Seasonal/Monthly demo shoe runs from local trailheads.
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Fleet Feet Davenport Contact Information:
Facebook page: facebook.com/FleetFeetDavenport
Years in Business: 3.5
Owners: Phil & Jackie Young
Managers: Tom Ries & Michelle Burken
Address: 4257 Elmore Avenue, Davenport, IA 52807
Phone: (563) 355-1231
PRO TIP: Check out this helpful article from Fleet Feet Sports about “How to prepare for a trail run.”
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