Community Sporting Events Boost Recovery Efforts in Eugene

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Photo courtesy of Run Hub Northwest 

When the pandemic hit, the owners of Run Hub Northwest knew they would need a strategy to keep their local running supply shop thriving. Like many brick-and-mortar stores, sales plummeted in 2020 when closed to in-person shoppers. 

“April was especially tough,” said Dustin Pearce, co-owner of Run Hub Northwest. April is typically the business’s best month because of traffic from Eugene Marathon participants and the associated expo. “I think our sales were down 60-65% during April 2020.” 

To keep their business going, Run Hub quickly took to social media to organize community runs and other events. 

“A large part of our business model is to develop community around running and being active,” Pearce said. Organizing community events was a natural step. 

Although the pandemic has affected businesses of all types, large sporting events such as the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials and Oregon football games help boost recovery efforts in Downtown Eugene by drawing more visitors to local establishments such as Run Hub and the Graduate Hotel. 

During the Trials in June, Run Hub sponsored races and hosted group runs, special events with athletes, shoe demos and more. The Trials brought an increase in sales of about 50% the first week and 25% the second, Pearce said, despite the pandemic and lower overall stadium capacity. 

In 2020, Run Hub’s sales were flat, but by 2021, pandemic-weary customers were ready to get back outside and running again. 

“About 70% of our business is footwear,” Pearce said. “And when people are stuck in their house all day and want to get out, running and walking is very accessible, and we provide gear for those things.”  

Through it all, Run Hub was still able to maintain a high-level of service and engagement that didn’t go unrecognized. They were recently named one of the best running stores in America by Running Insight magazine for the third year in a row. 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire local economy, including the Graduate Eugene. But like Run Hub, the large sporting events have helped bring event attendees to town. 

“We’re grateful to be able to position guests in the center of all things Eugene,” Graduate Eugene General Manager Jason Williams said. “And (we) aim to build upon the experience with on-site amenities such as Topgolf Swing Suites and a range of food and beverage offerings.”  

According to data shared by Travel Lane County, the Olympic Trials increased visitor spend on weekdays across lodging, shopping and dining categories compared to summer 2021 averages. 

The Trials helped boost recovery efforts by drawing more visitors to Downtown Eugene, both out-of-state and in-state guests, as well as local residents. 

Looking forward to the 2022 World Athletics Championships, large sporting events will continue to play an important role in ongoing recovery efforts as we move into the new normal and recovery phase. 

Run Hub Northwest 

Named one of the best running stores in America for the third year in a row. 

runhubnw.com

515 High Street, Eugene 

541-344-1239 

Days/hours: 

10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., Mon.-Thurs. 

10:00 a.m.-6:00p.m., Fri.-Sat. 

12:00 p.m.-5:00p.m., Sun. 

The Graduate Hotel

graduatehotels.com/eugene

66 E 6th Avenue, Eugene 

541-342-2000 

Travel Lane County

eugenecascadescoast.org

754 Olive Street, Eugene 

541-484-5307 

Days/hours: 

8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Mon.-Fri. 

10:00a.m.-3:00p.m., Holidays 

(Due to COVID-19, please call for current status.) 

Source: City Of Eugene

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