The Running Specialty Group (RSG), which owns 19 running stores located primarily in the Northeast, Florida and Texas and a newly launched ecommerce site, Run.com, announced its first acquisition with five Dallas-based Run On! stores. RSG is a joint venture between The Finish Line, Inc., a leading mall-based athletic footwear retailer with 638 stores across the country, and Denver-based Gart Capital Partners (GCP), a private equity partnership that is managed by GCP and headquartered in Denver. Bob and Rebecca Wallace, current owners of Run On! will remain with the company to help drive significant expansion in Dallas/Ft. Worth and surrounding areas.
“Run On! is one of the premier running specialty retailers in the U.S. and their philosophy and operations dovetail perfectly with RSG's goal to create a greater connection and sense of community among runners,” explained Chris Brown of Gart Capital Partners. “This is a great new platform for RSG because the team at Run On! has expertise in building community initiatives and helping everyday runners through a variety of training programs. It’s a perfect match for us and we couldn’t be more pleased with this as our first acquisition. And, most importantly, Bob and Rebecca are first-class people,” he added.
Plans call for RSG to begin expanding in Texas and surrounding areas over the next five years. Wallace will remain with Run On! where his depth of experience in building strong relationships with customers will be used as a model to continue growing the number of RSG stores. The agreement is designed to enhance Run On!’s business by adding multi-channel retailing through Run.com and administrative support while allowing Wallace to focus on the day-to-day operations and execution of growth objectives.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to continue working with the sport and the stores that I love while being part of a larger organization that will allow Run On! to grow beyond where I could take it,” states Wallace.
Wallace purchased a running store in March 1995 and quickly changed the name to Run On! and in the past 17 years has expanded to five stores. In addition to helping runners find the right product and fit for everything from shoes to apparel to various accessories, Run On! offers training classes, social runs and seminars, sponsors local races, and has their own racing team.
Ken Gart, managing partner of RSG, sees this as a tremendous opportunity for RSG. “We want to develop more engagement with a much broader audience of runners. With the addition of Run On! and their expertise in the most critical aspects of the business- community engagement, training programs, grassroots marketing, and operational best practices–we can leverage the platform Bob has put in place to begin to create the specialty model of the future,” explains Gart. “We are excited to begin working with Bob and his team.”