Fitness Retail Faceoff on 4th Avenue

Running Room Vancouver | BCBusiness
The Running Room’s recent move to Kitsilano has squared them off location-wise and market-wise with Lululemon.

Local fitness retail heavyweights Running Room and Lululemon get close in Kitsilano

Two major players in local fitness retail squared off this October when the Running Room moved its Alma Street location to Kitsilano’s West 4th Avenue. The new digs are located directly across the street from Lululemon Athletica’s original flagship store, where the sometimes-controversial athletic apparel company got its start in 1998.
Lululemon has broadened its focus beyond its core niche of yogawear and now also serves the running market. The stores sell running apparel and host free run clubs, and Lululemon’s SeaWheeze half marathon has been a sell-out success in its first two years of operation.
Founded in Edmonton in 1984 and now with 19 stores in B.C., the Running Room has long been offering a similar menu of running gear and equipment, training programs and race events.
Running Room store manager Noah Wallace says the move to 4th Avenue was designed to increase retail foot traffic. “Our lease was up and the area was pretty slow at Alma—there weren’t a lot of other retail stores.”
Early returns look good. “We’re busy on the weekends, our run club is growing and we’ve had some great social nights. I’m looking forward to gathering lots of new people from the neighbourhood.”
Linda Wong’s roots in the local running community go back more than 10 years. A desire to give back led her to work in the industry full time, where she has been a race director and organizer for several major local runs. In 2010, she became a run ambassador for Lululemon’s Robson Street store and leads their run club.
Wong brought her group to the Running Room’s 4th Avenue grand opening celebration on October 23.
“Lululemon and I are aligned in our views around community,” she says. “I was asked to support and the people I run with every week understand, believe in and support these initiatives. We are all runners, regardless of where we run out of.”
Wallace sees Lululemon’s move into the running space as a positive for the sector as a whole. “The Running Room is about getting more people into running. If Lululemon is able to get people who normally wouldn’t run into running as well, I think that’s a positive for us.”
Wong believes there are plenty of sweaty bodies to go around. “When 50,000 runners do the Sun Run every year, I think there are enough runners in Vancouver for all the stores.”