When a lengthy permitting and construction process delayed the opening of Austin Trail Running Co., owner Pam Harght decided to turn her business into a mobile pop-up store at trail races around Texas.
“I joke [that]I sold shoes out of my car,” she said. “But I would basically go around with bags of shoes and let people run in them.”
After opening her business’s brick-and-mortar location on Jan. 2, 2016, Harght realized her mobile strategy had paid off, she said. Located in the Austinville 78750 retail center, the business sells shoes, clothing and other accessories for trail running, obstacle course races and fitness classes.
“The mobile store worked out for a lot of reasons,” Harght said. “I got to go to different regions. It helped move products, figure out what’s going to work [and]what’s not.”
Austin Trail Running Co. has drawn a variety of customers, Harght said, from ultra-marathon runners and CrossFit enthusiasts to dog trainers and mini-disc golf players.
Shoe sales make up the bulk of business, but the store also carries trail-running apparel, including products from well-known brands such as Patagonia, Harght said.
Harght still operates pop-up stores at trail races, where she said most of her apparel sales are made.
Having always had an interest in trail running and outdoor athletics, Harght said she surveyed 1,500 people in the trail-running community to gauge interest before opening the store.
She said Northwest Austin is a prime location to reach customers in Cedar Park, Georgetown and other outlying areas. The store also sells products online, and Harght offers delivery service for South Austin customers.
Harght said all three of her employees have experience with trail running, something she feels adds a unique quality to the customer experience.
Beyond being a retail outlet, Harght said Austin Trail Running Co. also hosts events, film screenings and author appearances, including a visit last year from writer Ryan Holiday, whose best-selling books are popular with athletes and coaches.
“I wanted the trail-running community to have a space,” Harght said.
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Austin Trail Running Co.
13219 US 183, Ste. 200, Austin
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. noon-6 p.m.
The Perfect Fit
Do you want to run the trails in Hill Country? Here are three tips from Pam Harght, Austin Trail Running Co. owner, on picking the proper footwear.
1. Rock plates and toe bumpers
Harght said a good pair of trail-running shoes will have both of these, which protect a runner’s feet from injury because of rocks or hard surfaces.
2. Good traction
Trail-running shoes differ from standard athletic shoes in the amount of traction they are designed to provide. Harght said good trail-running shoes will have either sticky rubber soles or “lugs,” which are basically small cleats designed to help runners’ feet grip the ground.
This may seem counterintuitive, Harght said, but if you plan to run trails in Central Texas, do not fret about making sure your shoes wick away water. She said it is better if shoes are not waterproof because in addition to keeping moisture off the feet, water-resistant shoes can also keep moisture in.