Retail news : Running Specialty Group Acquires Six-Store BlueMile Chain

Running Specialty Group (RSG)  has acquired six BlueMile running stores to bring the total number of stores in its portfolio to 35.

Four of the BlueMile stores are in Indianapolis, IN and two are in Louisville, KY. Co-founded in 2000 by former professional athlete Ashley Johnson and his wife and business partner Andrea Johnson, a former sports marketing executive with Nike, BlueMile has become the leading running specialty store in the region by providing personalized service, customized shoe fitting using video gait analysis, training programs, and community events. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

RSG's stores operate primarily the Northeast, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Indiana and Kentucky.  The company, which also operates Run.com, is a joint venture partnership between Finish Line and Gart Capital Partners, Ltd.

"BlueMile is a perfect fit for RSG because they are the epitome of what we think of as a great running specialty store - a passion for their sport, a top-notch staff, close engagement with their customers and local communities, and the commitment to provide very personalized service - an element lacking in many 'big box' stores," explains Ken Gart, partner of Gart Capital Partners, Ltd., which owns Denver-based SRG. "The Johnsons and their staff are ready to expand and we are excited about helping them accelerate their growth plan to bring BlueMile to a wider audience of runners and walkers."

"This is a great opportunity for us to continue to focus on our passion for health and fitness while being part of a larger organization that will let us provide more opportunities for our staff," says Ashley Johnson.

The duo will continue to operate BlueMile with Ashley heading up operations and customer service and Andrea taking the lead on marketing and communications. The in-store staff will remain unchanged and additional positions will be added as new stores open.

"The retail landscape has changed since we opened in 2000 and people have more access to information and the products we sell, but they still want the individual attention they get at a specialty store like ours," says Andrea Johnson. "Partnering with RSG will give us resources to better serve our local customers with the retail experience they expect in all of our stores."

Creating and developing special events has enabled BlueMile to build strong connections and loyalty with their local communities. The BlueMile Brew Mile Summer Series was launched in the summer of 2011 to engage customers and their not-so-healthy friends. The event drew nearly 1,000 people in its first year, and the $5 entry fee for the one-mile charity fun run/walk keeps growing. Besides runners and walkers, the event also attracts people who might not otherwise participate in a running and walking event. Spring and fall training programs for all ability levels are also available in their stores as part of customer outreach and there are currently more than 550 people training at five of their stores.

"BlueMile is exactly the type of specialty retailer we are looking for," says Glenn Lyon, chairman and CEO of Indianapolis-based Finish Line. "It's a collection of well run stores with owners and staff that are passionate about their sport, customer service, and community. It's exciting to partner with BlueMile since they were founded right here in the 'backyard' of Finish Line's own corporate headquarters," he concludes.

Source RSG throughSportsOnesource

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