Former policeman Thom Suddeth opened the 2,500 square foot store in 1983. The purchase price was not revealed but plans call for Suddeth to lead the transition team for the next four months. As one of the top master runners in the USA in his early 40s running for Nike, he will also continue to coach and train local runners for competition. The name of the store will not change and the entire staff will remain on board including a current employee being promoted to manager.
RSG brings a variety of fresh resources to Road Runner that will support and strengthen the customer experience. Plans include adding new clothing and accessories to the retail mix and the integration of Run.com—a comprehensive website for runners that includes information on training, nutrition, weight loss, injury prevention, events and expanded inventory of all types of running gear. Another priority is to continue engaging with the local community through in-store and other special events.
Suddeth approached RSG last April about selling the store because he felt that it was “a good time to step away and let someone carry the torch for the next 30 years.”
Suddeth has two children, ages 11 and 15, and plans to spend more time with his family and hoping to coach his daughter’s middle school team.
“Running a retail store has been the dominant part of my life in terms of energy for nearly 30 years and I’m a 100 percent guy but something was getting neglected,” explained Suddeth. “I’m at the store every day but Sunday and since I just turned 64, I thought, hey, this is the time.”
Suddeth went on to explain that selling to the Running Specialty Group felt like a good fit. “I talked to Ken Gart and their staff and they provided a great opportunity to turn the store over to a group we had total confidence in.”
Road Runner and Suddeth have supported the local running community for decades by organizing and sponsoring a variety of annual races and competitions for runners. Events that he is most closely connected with include the Monument Avenue 10k race that attracts 42,000 runners every year and the Richmond Marathon with more than 19,000 participants where Suddeth has served as a committee head and acted as the elite coordinator for more than 10 years. For more than 20 years, Suddeth has organized and sponsored the Hugenot 3-miler trail run and he started the Carytown 10k and continues to serve as both volunteer and sponsor. RSG sees those events as a vital connection with customers and will continue coordinating and supporting those events.
“After opening the store nearly 30 years ago, Thom developed and nurtured what we consider to be the model of an exceptional running store by building great events and relationships with his customers,” explained Ken Gart, managing partner of RSG. “He is one of the most prominent figures in the local running community and Road Runner Running Store with its strong community connections is exactly what a specialty running store can and should be,” he added.