Monday, September 15, 2014

Client Spotlight: Running Hard with Milestone Running

By: Oren Rosenberg

Chad and Greg have hardly had time to catch their breath, as business has been so hectic at Milestone Running. They formed the idea for their business while working together in a Los Angeles area running store. Looking around, they saw a sales and commission-focused industry and decided that they both preferred to be involved with a store that emphasized community, health and quality customer service over profit.

“Greg and I wanted to make it our own thing,” said Chad. “And grow it how we want to grow it, as a community based-enterprise rather than a sales-based enterprise.”

After a little over a year in business at their North Park location, the community has clearly taken notice. The store resembles a sitcom set as much as it does a shoe store, with a revolving cast of local characters coming in to shop or just shoot the breeze with the ever-affable Chad and Greg.

The Milestone hang-out crowd are often left talking amongst themselves, however, as customers frequently cycle in and out, each receiving the full treatment from Chad or Greg. First they undergo a “gait analysis,” which involves running on a treadmill in the store while Greg or Chad films the way the potential customer’s feet land. Then, using their knowledge of exercise physiology gained from years working in the industry, they assess the way a customer’s foot rolls and use that assessment to recommend shoes that fit the customer’s specific needs.

This first-class service comes with both current style running shoes, as well as heavily-discounted styles from last year. Greg and Chad are acutely aware that some customers may have more limited means.

“We try to keep other brands or styles in stock that are a bit less expensive so that everyone has access to a comparable level of quality in terms of shoe,” said Greg. “We even keep shoes on sale on purpose.”

None of this would be possible, they said, without their $25,000 start-up loan from Accion, which allowed them to build an inventory and design a retail location that would be pleasing both for customers and for the local running community.

Since receiving the loan early last year, Milestone has almost tripled their sales, allowing them to reinvest earnings into more inventory to meet their growing demand. With this strategy, Greg and Chad are confident that they will continue to draw market share away from their competitors.

While their increase in sales is impressive, the numbers fail to fully capture the buzz Milestone Running is creating in their community. Through working with like-minded organizations like the San Diego Track Club, as well as through their weekly Wednesday group runs that start in front of the store, Milestone Running’s impact reaches far beyond their bottom line.

They hope one day to expand to another location, but for now, Chad and Greg are focused on grassroots, word-of-mouth marketing and community involvement, which they believe will ensure the long-run success and viability of Milestone Running.

Need some new running shoes? Make sure to check them out online at: www.milestonerunning.com

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