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Texas Run Specialty Chain Downsizes

By MARK SULLIVAN – January 23, 2017

Luke's Locker, for years regarded as one of the best running stores in the U.S., says it is "temporarily" closing five of its eight stores in Texas. The store, founded with a single unit in Dallas in 1970, is shuttering locations in Plano, Southlake, Austin, Houston and The Woodlands, but will continue to operate its two stores in Dallas and one in Fort Worth.

The company made the announcement on its Facebook page this past weekend. According to feedback on the page, the Lucas family told employees at those stores that they no longer had jobs, so it remains to be seen whether those locations will re-open in a few weeks as the company Facebook post indicated.

Luke's Locker, like other independent run stores, has faced stiff competition from Internet retailers and from brands selling direct to consumers via their websites. Matt Lucas, son of the founders Don and Sharon and the current CEO, said the increased competition was a major factor in the store's current struggles.

Luke's was a dominant force in the Dallas run market with a three-level flagship store that was said to generate nearly $10 million in annual sales at its peak. Over the past eight years, Luke's has expanded aggressively and at one point had 10 stores throughout Texas. Industry observers said the new stores were expensive to open and put strain on the company's finances. Luke's was never known as a fast payer to brands and several key brands have stopped shipping to Luke's. That inventory strain made it tough to keep eight stores in stock, and those who shopped Luke's locations recently noticed that the shelves were barren. The consolidation to three stores from eight may be a move by the family to concentrate all existing inventory in three top locations.

The Lucas family has reportedly been approached by several outside parties about buying or investing in the business, including Road Runner Sports.

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