Milestone: Retailers Report on Brooks

Stores sound off on what makes Brooks a key part of their mix.

John Rogers
Owner, Fleet Feet Sports Maine Running, Portland, Maine

“Brooks is a running company, first and foremost. The culture and everything they do personifies it. They understand running and the run specialty business, more so than other vendors. They understand our environment. For example, shipping — they’re spot-on with the shipping process. Even the details like the box size, how they’re packaged, how the packing slips are arranged, how things are done from a financial point — they understand the mechanics of running stores, from the small to the big store. The biggest thing is that you feel like you’re doing business with a friend or your next-door neighbor. There is a personalization when you work with their team.”

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Curt Munson
Partner, Playmakers, Okemos, Mich.

“I’ve been doing business with the Brooks team for 33 years, [and they’ve] been our longest-running No. 1 vendor. Their service and consistency have always been good, [and] they do a great job of reaching out to retailers by listening and involving them. They’ve always been humble and appreciative and are consistent with their follow-through. And the [team has] consistently great people all the way down the line. It’s a culture that permeates throughout.”

Dick Johnson
EVP & COO, Foot Locker Inc., New York

“I was a wear tester for Brooks in the early 1980s, back just out of college, when I really was a runner. I had good friends who worked there and got me involved with their wear-test program, so I wore a lot of Brooks shoes back in the day, and [I] still am a believer. There will always be a Brooks pair in my personal assortment.”

Ken Gart
Principal, Gart Cos./Running Specialty Group, Denver

“My family has a multigeneration history in the sporting-goods business, so we’ve worked with Brooks on and off for a couple of generations. I would say they’re the gold standard for the running industry. When we do acquisitions, we always ask who the key sales reps are, and every time, Brooks is listed as a key sales rep within the independent running store world. Brooks executes as well as anyone out there, and they have a powerful and strong culture, and run a tremendous business. The ‘Run Happy’ theme they’ve come up with, where it’s fun and not super hard core, is a brilliant strategy. Their core product is excellent. They’re innovators and they market it in a clever and fun and interesting way. The team is solid and works well together. That’s what it takes: the right product and the right team.”

John Clark
Head of purchasing, Skinny Raven, Anchorage, Alaska

“Brooks doesn’t act like a No. 1 brand. They behave like they are still fighting to be recognized, so there is a humility there. They are very appreciative of their retailers. They do a lot of little things very well, like managing orders, shipping correctly, handling returns quickly. And in terms of business ease, all these little things add up. They have a very strong corporate culture and that starts with Jim Weber. Even though they are a growing business, they are positioned to not lose that culture. I don’t think they feel like they are competing with other brands as much as they compete with themselves.”

Sam Sato
Brand president, Finish Line Inc., Indianapolis

“The avid runner knows Brooks, and there is a best-in-class standard attached to the brand, as well as those retailers who offer it. Brooks is a brand that has a keen sense of who their customer is and understands where their efforts should be targeted. They make strategic business decisions, set attainable goals for their brand and do a great job vetting new concepts with their customer to ensure they get it right. Brooks innovates by fueling fresh ideas in the running specialty sector while remaining true to their brand and core customer, which is key to success in this industry.”