Running specialty store tops national mag polls

Filed under: Retail |

A Colorado Springs running store has been named a top choice in four readers’ polls by Runners World magazine.

Colorado Running Co., 833 N. Tejon St., won for the mountain region in the categories of general excellence, best customer service, best community outreach and best product selection.

“We came out on top for the region in the survey that included the entire country,” said owner Jeff Tarbert. “We’re a running specialty store, and there aren’t too many of those around.”

The locally owned business works with volunteer organizations to promote active lifestyles, Tarbert said. He partners with Land Sharks, a running group for children that had more than 3,000 participants last year.

“We believe in active lifestyles,” Tarbert said. “We have four runs that start at the store every week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. We probably have 45 people show up to the Wednesday ‘happy hour’ run. We run, and then we sit around and tell lies about running.”

Tarbert said he was pleased with the survey ranking, believing that his company’s success lies in his work with community groups.

“It’s nice to know that they are paying attention,” he said.

LearningRX opens new Springs center

LearningRX has opened its newest training center at 830 Tenderfoot Hill Road, Suite 310.

Founded by Dr. Ken Gibson, LearningRX specializes in identifying and correcting limitations that interfere with a student’s ability to learn.

“We do for the mind what a physical fitness center does for muscle,” Gibson said. “We make the brain stronger and faster. What LearningRX cognitive-skills training does is ‘train the brain’ and enhance those skills in a proprietary process that results in improvement faster and more effectively than any other educational process.”

The company provides testing to identify educational problems, and then offers one-on-one training programs to correct weaknesses, Gibson said.

The south Colorado Springs location is one of 50 franchises that the company plans to open this year. The center has 10 trainers and plans to hire another 10 before the end of the year.

The center is owned by Rex and Leslie Jakeman.

Learning RX, headquartered in Colorado Springs, has 34 centers across the United States.

Luck of the Irish rings in big sales

Retailers will be feeling the luck o’ the Irish this spring, as consumers hit the stores for their favorite green goods.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2006 St. Patrick’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, consumers will spend an estimated $2.69 billion on St. Patrick’s Day, up from $1.94 billion last year. The average person will spend $27.94, an increase from $22.95 in 2005.

“With the popularity of the holiday increasing, St. Patrick’s day has become a tremendous day for restaurants and bars, as well as your traditional retail outlets,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Even small trinkets can be big sellers as consumers respond favorably to retailers’ special selection of holiday merchandise.”

The reason for the large increase in spending is due in part to more people celebrating the holiday. This year, 43.2 percent of consumers (96.3 million) will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, compared to only 38.5 percent of consumers who felt the holiday spirit last year. Wearing green remains one of the most popular ways to celebrate, with 82.4 percent of those surveyed planning to don their green apparel.

Other ways consumers plan to join in on the festivities include going to a bar or restaurant, decorating their home or office or attending a party. Yet, not everyone plans on heading out, with 31 percent of those polled planning on making a special dinner at home.

Consumers of all ages will be enjoying St. Patrick’s Day this year; however, it will be the 25 to 34 age group that does the splurging, with average per person spending expected to be $31.64.

“This holiday is definitely a boost for retailers, thanks to the 25- to 34-year-old age group,” said Phil Rist, vice president of strategy for BIGresearch. “Restaurants and bars will benefit greatly from this group’s increased spending power.”

The NRF 2006 St. Patrick’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted for NRF by BIGresearch, was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to St. Patrick’s Day. The poll of 7,209 consumers was conducted Feb. 2 through Feb. 8.

U.S. chain sales rose last two weeks in February

U.S. chain sales for the week ending Feb. 18 increased 0.2 percent from the previous week and increased 1.5 percent for the week ending Feb. 25, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

“Over the past two weeks, retail chain store sales improved due to a spurt of pent-up demand,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC chief economist and director of research. “February was a volatile month for sales, swaying between blasts of winter weather and short tastes of spring.”

The two weeks’ sales increased 7.3 percent compared to the same period last year, according to ICSC’s index. For the month of February, ICSC expects sales to rise about 3 percent compared last year.

Amy Gillentine covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.