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Buyout of local running stores causes confusion for customers

Posted October 13, 2015
Updated October 14, 2015

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— A trio of locally owned running stores across the Triangle were recently purchased by a major corporation, but that change is not apparent to customers, and small business advocates worry that shoppers will be confused.

"It can be a little deceiving to the consumer when you think you are supporting a local, independent business and you are really supporting a national chain," said Jennifer Martin, executive director of Shop Local Raleigh.

Martin said she was one of those confused when she made a purchase from Raleigh Running Outfitters on Six Forks Road.

Both that store and a Cary location owned by the same couple were sold in January to the Running Specialty Group - a division of Finish Line. The same company bought Capital Run Walk in Cameron Village and more than 70 other independently-owned running stores across the nation.

Runologie, in downtown Raleigh, is currently the only local and independently owned running shop in the city, Martin said.

Clayton Roberts said he frequents Raleigh Running Outfitters. "I like the store because it is convenient and local," he said.

The sale, Roberts said, is “not surprising, but it is a little shocking."

Knowing the store has changed hands may change his habits. "I think it is actually important to help the local community and the local business that are local," Roberts said.

The business names, web sites and employees did not change after the buyout. On the Raleigh Running Outfitters website, the "about us section" shows a photo of the previous owner and tells the story of how the business was started.

A spokesperson for Finish Line told WRAL News that the company plans to rebrand the stores they have acquired across the country and rename them to JackRabbit.

The rollout will start in New York City and the stores will continue to support local events, the spokesperson said.

8 Comments

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  • Sondra Jarvis Oct 14, 2015
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    I find it interesting that this is such a big deal today considering this happened at the beginning of 2015.

    I love all the stores and I shop around and find what I need. The same wonderful runners that worked there are still there.

    If you frequent the store already and speak to the staff, I would be surprised you didn't know already.

  • Roy Hinkley Oct 14, 2015
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    Thanks, I try to limit my snark.

  • Roy Hinkley Oct 14, 2015
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    I stand corrected.
    I checked their membership requirements to provide an example of why Fleet Feet might not be considered local, only to find out that they clearly do allow Fleet Feet stores memberships.

    Thanks for the correction, I should have checked their membership list first.

  • Jeffrey Morris Oct 14, 2015
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    Roy - There are plenty of Fleet Feet Sports locations including the Corporate (in Carrboro) that are retail members of the IRAA (http://theirra.org/dealers.html). Fleet Feet Sports Raleigh, North Raleigh, and Morrisville are locally owned and operated.

  • Anne Havisham Oct 14, 2015
    user avatar

    Ms. Atkins and Mr. Hinkley win the prize for Civil Online Conversation of the Day!

    (I'm all for snark when it serves a purpose, but the frequent unkindness online starts to grind me down after a while.)

  • Holly Atkins Oct 14, 2015
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    Gotcha...thanks! I guess because of location and how small the store is, I always viewed them as local. My bad!

  • Roy Hinkley Oct 14, 2015
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    Some folks would consider Fleet Feet to be too large a chain to be considered "local".

    The Independent Running Retailers Association would not consider them for membership (too many locations and possibly too many decisions made by corporate) .

    It's kind of like this: would you consider a McDonald's franchise to be a local company?

  • Holly Atkins Oct 14, 2015
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    Runologie, in downtown Raleigh, is currently the only local and independently owned running shop in the city, Martin said.

    Isn't Fleet Feet on Wade Avenue local??