Welcome to the fifth 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.
They say Alaska is 30 minutes from Anchorage, but you don’t have to go that far from downtown to experience wild. Take a peek at an aerial map of our city and you’ll see greenbelts and acres of parks that give our community countless miles of play every day. Skinny Raven Sports, Alaska’s premier specialty running store, is fortunate to have two locations in our city that allow our customers to take their shoes and favorite gear to the trails almost immediately.
For the best views and an occasional wildlife encounter, check out the trails at Kincaid Park. For a more forested run, and even more wildlife head to Far North Bicentennial Park and get lost on the Hillside. Cell phone service is a little spotty, but you’re almost guaranteed to see dozens of fellow community members on the trail. If that’s not enough to get your heart racing, the 4,000-foot – and higher – peaks in Chugach State Park offer elevation gains and views that will make every mile worthwhile.
Our executive director Nancy Hobbs spoke with manager Aimee Chauvot to learn more about Skinny Raven Sports.
[Nancy] Can you tell us about some of the trail running-related programs at your store?
[Aimee] We conduct the Saucony Trail Series which is an all-levels trail fun-run. The series is spread across three months and includes three of Anchorage’s favorite trailheads. Runners can demo Saucony trail shoes and enjoy post-run hydration and nutrition from national brands like NUUN and GU, or local favorite Moose’s Tooth Pizza.
A little further from Anchorage, is Seward, Alaska. Skinny Raven is honored to time the iconic Mount Marathon Race. This 5K up-and-back mountain race brings elites, legends, and down-home runners to the coastal town every July fourth.
We are also proud to sponsor the Municipality of Anchorage’s annual Bonnie Sosa Tuesday Night Races in the fall. The events bring hundreds of Anchorage families out for a 12-week series of trail runs, including the most adorable Munchkin League – most Ravens got their trail running start here! We also provide timing support and donations to other area trail races.
[Nancy] How have you showcased trail-running brands and products in your store?
[Aimee] We’re the Last Frontier for the US, but the first stop for trail gear in Anchorage. Trail shoes are clearly displayed, and essential products (Scat Belt, anyone?), are stocked by the POS. Seasonally, we merchandise products to the front for easy reach for our customers. And if they’re in a hurry, we have a simple rack card – “Essentials for Trail Running” – that offers a checklist for customers.
[Nancy] What is one positive lesson you have learned from integrating trail running programs into your store?
[Aimee] Trail running has always been at the core of our DNA, but I’d say that our recent experience with the Saucony Trail Series, created a very approachable opportunity for folks to try trail running in an unthreatening, group setting.
[Nancy] Do you have any advice to other store owners who have yet to feature trail running products?
[Aimee] Trail running is fun!
[Nancy] What are three tips you have for individual runners considering getting into trail running?
- The right gear is your best friend. Take time to learn what you need and what you like. Lean on your local run specialty to offer recommendations and help you find what works for you.
- You can do it! Trail running might be intimidating, or more challenging that your road running. It’s okay. Don’t be afraid – there are plenty of people out there happy to share knowledge.
- Be ready to have the time of your life. There’s a lot of earth out there to explore, and some amazing sights to see!
[Nancy] What percentage of your sales are generated from trail running shoes/gear/products?
[Aimee] Sales from trail shoes make up approximately 20% of our athletic footwear sales.
[Nancy] Has the percentage of sales geared to trail increased at your store over the past five years?
[Aimee] Yes, there has been an increase which we can attribute to greater interest from our community. We met this interest with intentional buying to support and fulfill the needs of our community.
Skinny Raven Sports Contact Information:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/skinnyravensports
Years in Business: 25
Owner: Daniel Greenhalgh
Managers: Tanner Johnson, Haley White, Aimee Chauvot
Address: 800 H Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 (907-274-7222) and 2727 W. Dimond Blvd. Anchorage, AK 99502 (907-339-9991)