By: Brian Metzler
It’s a hard time to make it in the running specialty retail world right now, especially when it comes to one-off, community-based brick-and-mortar stores. And, yes, even in a running hotbed like Boulder, Colorado.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not only wreaked havoc on in-store operations and selling for the past year, but it also sped up consumers buying shoes and gear online. And let’s face it, running retail has been a tough game for several years with the proliferation of running gear sold on Amazon and every brand upping their direct-to-consumer operations.
Amid some of those factors, Go Far, the small, upstart trail running and outdoor lifestyle shop started in 2017 by Kate King and Ken Sung, announced on April 13 it will be closing permanently on April 25.
The beautifully designed 2,200-square-foot store situated a few blocks east of Boulder’s Pearl Street pedestrian mall has sold numerous brands of running shoes, a wide range of Smartwool products, and other apparel and accessories. It was one of the first dozen shops in the country to have a FitStation Powered by HP digital foot-scanning service to generate shoe recommendations and custom 3D printed insoles by Superfeet.
More notably, King, who managed the store from the start, established it as a community-based shop with speaker nights, group runs, collaborations with Boulder-area artists and athletes, a coffee bar, a smartly curated collection of goods and a friendly local vibe. But, sadly, that still wasn’t enough to survive in today’s challenging retail landscape.
“We at Go Far are endlessly grateful for this amazing community we have built and been a part of for these last three and a half perfect years,” King said in an email to customers on April 13. “We could not have done any of this without YOU. But for us, this chapter has unfortunately come to a close, and it's on to the next adventure. Thank you for the beautiful memories. May the adventure continue, and as always - GO FAR.”
Like a lot of retail stores forced to close for several months last March because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Go Far lost a large amount of spring and summer revenue that it typically attracted from the uptick of Boulder tourism that was delayed because of the shutdown. The store reopened with occupancy restrictions, but it remained a vibrant retail store amid a tougher retail climate.
When it had to close down last spring, it launched a “Be Boulder, Go Farther” virtual speaker series that featured mostly Boulder-based athletes, coaches, authors and health practitioners. While that popular series helped boost the store’s online sales, it also generated much-needed community vibe and raised money for Boulder’s Downtown Relief Fund to help displaced local workers.
King and Sung met while working at the successful Gazelle Sports running stores in Michigan, where Sung had been a partner since the late 1980s and King had worked in several roles during and after college before moving to Boulder in 2013. They stayed in touch and eventually came up with the idea for Go Far.
Boulder has gone through numerous running retail store changes since 2013, including the sale of Boulder Running Company to JackRabbit, the closure of Fleet Feet Boulder, the Newton Running retail shop Flatirons Running (now a Runner’s Roost store), and the opening of InMotion Running.
“Anyone who owns a specialty store knows that this business is all about the community it creates and fosters,” King said last April in a news story about the virtual speaker series. “That’s what we believe has made this store special since we originally opened. This is a unique and challenging time for everyone, but we’ve always believed in our connection to the community.”