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The Athlete’s Foot Stays a Step Ahead

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The company tailors each store to meet the needs of the local sneaker-obsessed consumer.

The athletic specialty space is highly competitive and consumers are spoiled with choices. Standing out in a crowded marketplace is one of the major challenges The Athlete’s Foot faces, but the company does so by remaining “cool, premium, connected and convenient.”

“We offer our customers an elevated in-store experience, rich with storytelling,” CEO Adam Chait says. “This year, we will increasingly enable our consumer to shop seamlessly across channels —however, whenever and wherever they want.”

The Athlete’s Foot is a leading athletic lifestyle retailer. The company has more than 550 stores serving sneaker-obsessed consumers in 30 different markets around the world. All of its stores are operated by franchisees — people who live in the community, build long-term relationships with its customers and help tailor the assortment to the unique needs of hometown shoppers.

“The Athlete’s Foot is globally known and locally relevant,” Chait adds. “That is our greatest source of success and advantage over our competitors. Our value proposition resonates with our consumers and with our vendors, as evidenced by our double-digit growth rates both globally and domestically.”

Every decision made by The Athlete’s Foot is filtered through the prism of its consumer. The company asks itself: How will this decision help us better serve our consumer? “If we stay focused on doing what’s right for our customer, then they will reward us with their continued loyalty and support,” Chait notes. 

Local Appeal

“The Athlete’s Foot serves a customer base of 18- to 24-year-old neighborhood consumers who live the sneaker culture,” Chait says. “They are social, they are engaging and they are very digital in nature. Our consumer draws inspiration from many different sources including hip-hop artists, professional athletes, friends and social movements. The commonality is they put a lot of focus on fashion and tend to be early adopters of trends. They also may be into sports, yoga or healthy living, but at their core, they’re really fashion-forward.”

The Athlete’s Foot locations strive to wardrobe its customers from head-to-toe, which is why its franchisees get to determine much of what they stock. “They’re on the floor and they know their consumers,” Chait says. “They know what colors, what styles and what silhouettes are working for them.”

Because the franchisees are local and most have been with the company for 10 to 25 years, their institutional knowledge and experience is indispensable. That expertise trickles down to the store employees who know their skills and contributions are valued. “Employee retention is super important — we have an amazing team and want to hold on to every person,” Chait says. “We offer small gestures to demonstrate our appreciation like taking them out to lunch, writing them thank-you notes or celebrating their accomplishments with co-workers.”

The Athlete’s Foot’s dedication to employees also shows in a collaborative and autonomous work environment.

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