Welcome to the fourth 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.
Kenosha Running Company is located in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which sits in the far southeast corner of the state on Lake Michigan. To say Brian Thomas backed into opening the first ever Run Specialty Store in Kenosha, would be an understatement. “We have been hosting the XC Thrillogy Trail Running Series since 2014, and started selling trail running shoes at our events in 2016,” said Thomas. “In 2017, we decided to open the first Run Specialty and Canicross Boutique in the country. We purchased an abandoned 100-year-old building that sits on over two acres and adjoins to the largest bike path in the county. In September of 2018, we opened our doors.”
Our executive director Nancy Hobbs spoke with Brian Thomas to learn more about Kenosha Running Company.
[Nancy] What makes your store special?
[Brian] There are several aspects which make us completely unique in this industry. I have been running for over 45 years and never once was I able to go select a pair of shoes by running in as many pair as I liked until I found the correct one. I wanted runners to be able to run in the shoe first, whether it be a road or trail shoe. Since we have over two acres and we’re located on the bike path, runners can go test drive the shoes by running for 5 to 10 minutes, come back to the store, and then try out another pair. I am a big believer in making friends with your shoes before purchasing them. It is not uncommon for some to try on numerous pairs of shoes over an hour time frame.
We provide expert technical assistance. I also find it very helpful to assist runners in stressing the importance of a good dynamic warm up prior to running and doing a number of one legged strengthening drills. Most of our runners are aging and our range of motion, agility and strength diminish which leads to other issues. When we run, we take off, fly and land and repeat. So everything is on one foot/leg, I demonstrate to them the importance to being ready to run.
Our niche in the running world is Canicross, which is running with your dog. As a result of hosting the largest Canicross Series in the Country, we started selling all the gear related to running with your dog at our events prior to opening the store. It is not uncommon to have runners and their dogs travel several hours to be properly fitted in the harness, lead lines and running belts.
There are several brands we carry that represent numerous styles, as dogs are built as differently as people. This has been a great product addition and people are very thankful. If anyone is interested in adding Canicross gear to your product offering, Brian is happy to discuss how to make this work and the benefits. Feel free to call him at 262-925-0300 or send him an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRO TIP: Learn more about Canicross from an article Brian wrote for us last Summer; “Trail racing with your four legged friend.”
[Nancy] What are some trail-specific programs you offer?
[Brian] Hosting twelve trail running events a year has allowed us to open up our store and create relationships that have prospered over the years with our laid back encouraging mindset. This is a perfect fit for trail runners.
We also have numerous group runs from our location throughout the year, that are capped off by hanging out around our fire pit and sharing something to eat and a cold drink. Our secret has been to start late morning, offer several different distances – a looped course of 3-4 miles is easy to manage and allow walkers to join in – serve good food and beer if possible and make it more a social time than a competitive race.
PRO TIP: Find all the trail and Canicross races organized by Kenosha Running Company on our event calendar.
[Nancy] What are three tips you would give someone considering getting into trail running?
[Brian] Evaluate your lower body strength, stability and balance. Incorporate appropriate strengthening drills that will address the new demands the trails will bring.
- My favorites are one leg drills, especially one leg squats.
- Find trails that are easier and more gentle at first, rather than those with challenging terrain. This makes the transition from the roads to trails a bit smoother.
- Proper footwear, the trails and trail conditions more than anything determine specifications of the shoe.
[Nancy] What percentage of your sales are generated by trail running products?
[Brian] About 30% of our footwear sales are trail running shoes. We do not sell much in the way of accessories for trail runners.
Kenosha Running Company Contact Information:
Years in business: 2
Owner: Brian Thomas
Address: 1706 – 22nd Avenue, Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone number: 262-925-0300