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Footwear giant Finish Line currently owns 66 specialty running shops sprinkled throughout the United States as part of its Running Specialty Group (RSG) initiative. As Finish Line looks to increase its influence in the running specialty area, CEO Glenn Lyon and president of RSG Bill Kirkendall recently sat down for a Q&A session at the The Running Event Trade show in Austin, Texas.

Hosted by the Mark Sullivan, editor of Running Insight, the two broached on a number of topics in front of an audience full of independent business owners regarding Finish Line and RSG's intentions in the running specialty area. Lyon stressed that Finish Line isn't trying to take over or revolutionize the business. Instead, they merely just want a piece of the pie. At the same time, though, Lyons said he hopes that Finish Line and RSG can add something new to the business that can be beneficial for both parities.

"I said when I started, and you can take me on my word for that, we’re very proud to be a part of this and we respect what’s happened in this industry. For all of you who have invested your lives in theses businesses and we can be part of that and that can be beneficial to you, then let’s join hands and figure out a way that it works for both of us," Lyons said.

"If not," Lyons continued. "I hope that, when it’s all said and done, we’ve added something to this business and that everybody in the room has some benefit from some of the learnings that we have and some of the successes we’ve had and there are some things that you can put into your businesses to help you get more successful."

"We’re a part of the business and the industry and we’ll do everything we can to grow this business for all of us," Kirkendall added.

Lyons and Kirkendall also touched upon the subject that RSG stores will try and emulate the local commitment independent stores supply to their surrounding communities. After all, its that commitment to the community that keeps people coming back to smaller stores. The duo's answers still left some of the independent owners skeptical of the brand's intentions, but it seems as if Finish line believes there is a place for both them and the independent owner in the industry.

"It’s not just about how many doors we have," Kirkendall said. "We won’t have a lot of stores if we don’t do a great job servicing the customer because we won’t know them."


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