Welcome to the first 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.
Foot Rx Running is located in Asheville, North Carolina, home to superb Appalachian views, natural beauty and stunning trail running mountain adventures. Owned and operated by Aaron Saft, Scott Socha and Jamie Dick, Foot Rx Running has been serving its local community for 12 years. Aaron also manages American Trail Running Association (ATRA) member MR Running Pains Events – a coaching service and organizer of trail running events.
Our executive director Nancy Hobbs had a conversation with Aaron Saft about what makes his store special.
What are three trail running-related programs that help Foot Rx Running standout?
- We have trail maintenance opportunities for running interested in giving back. No experience required.
- Regular group runs for all ages and ability levels. Join area runners every Monday night and hit the trails.
- Our trail running races are a big hit. We organize or sponsor over a dozen local events.
How have you showcased trail-running brands and products in your store?
We have a dedicated trail running shoe wall, a hydration pack section, and carry trail running-specific apparel brands. My co-owner Scott Socha is also a Certified Pedorthist so we’re able to offer custom orthotics which are fabricated on site. We also host runner education seminars & on-the-trail clinics where brands can talk about the benefits of their products.
What is one positive lesson you’ve learned from integrating trail running programs into your store?
It’s really simple. Having trail running programs, displays, runs and other ways of engaging with this community sets us apart from other stores that sell running shoes. It’s also about providing face-to-face experiences with the customer that shopping online can’t replicate.
What advice do you have from store owners who haven’t featured trail running?
If you already carry brands that make trail running products, it’s a no brainer. Go all in and make yourself the local destination shop and authority on the sport for trail runners!
What are three tips for anyone considering trail running for the first time?
- Join a group trail run to get to know other runners and get oriented to the local trail systems.
- Stop in your local running shop and ask about various routes they suggests or runs/races that take place in the area.
- Search social media for local trail running groups in your area or consult the American Trail Running Association’s national directory of clubs.
What percentage of your sales are generated from trail running shoes, gear and other products?
Somewhere between 15-20%.
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How have trail running shoes, gear and other products contributed to your growth over the past 5 years and to what do you attribute the increase?
Thankfully we have seen sales growth. I created a local trail running club and soon thereafter, started the Hellbender 100, our region’s first 100-mile trail race, which has really created a great excitement and cohesion in our community! It also helps that our store is just 2 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway trail. This national resource offers spectacular views of Southern Appalachia’s diverse beauty for 469 uninterrupted miles. Blue-misted mountains, cascading waterfalls, rolling pasture, and gorges banked with wildflowers greet trail runners of all skill levels.
What trail running races are supported through the store as a sponsor or organizer?
- Tsali Frosty Foot 50k, 30k, & 8k (ATRA Member)
- DuPont Yeti or Not 25k (ATRA Member)
- Cradle to Grave 30k & 10k (ATRA Member)
- Hellbender 100 mile (ATRA Member)
What other non-racing rail running events do you host?
We offer $5 5k for local charities once per month, Monday night group runs and regular trail work days. Check out the calendar on our website to see what’s coming up soon.