Garry Gribble has crossed the finish line after a nice, long run as the owner of a well-known group of specialty running stores in the Kansas City area.
Gribble, who opened his first Garry Gribble’s Running Sports store 30 years ago, has sold the business to the Running Specialty Group, based in Denver. The purchase price was not disclosed.
The five area Gribble’s stores in Kansas City, Overland Park, Independence, Lawrence and Topeka will continue to operate under their familiar name, the new owners said Thursday. The stores have a total of about 70 employees.
“I feel good about handing the stores off,” said Gribble, 75. “It’s the time to move on.”
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Though Gribble will not have a formal role with the new owners, they said they expect to use him as a resource on the local market.
“Garry Gribble and his team have done such a fantastic job. … They have a great reputation,” said Jeff Scherdin, director of store acquisitions for Running Specialty Group.
The acquisition marks Running Specialty Group’s entry into the area. The company, which is a unit of Finish Line Inc., operates 64 specialty running stores in 15 states and the District of Columbia. It has expanded rapidly in recent years by acquiring small companies like Gribble’s.
Gribble started his business in 1984 — with a store at Ward Parkway Center — after working at Hallmark Cards. Over the years he added locations and expanded his merchandise mix of shoes, apparel and accessories. The company sponsors many area running events, and it is frequently listed among the top running stores in the nation by industry experts.
Gribble, himself a nationally known figure in running circles, said Running Specialty Group first approached him in 2011 about a sale, and a year later the two talked again. A third round of talks earlier this year ended with the recent sale agreement.
The five stores will get computer hardware and software upgrades to better track sales and inventory. New store fixtures and displays will be added and the merchandise inventory will be “significantly higher,” Gribble said.
Scherdin said his company’s goal “is to provide merchandising and marketing support to make these stores even better.”
The Finish Line, a publicly traded company based in Indianapolis, reported net sales of $467 million for the second quarter of its fiscal year, up 7.1 percent from the same period a year earlier. The company opened its first store in 1976, and as of September it had 1,020 locations, primarily in malls and in shops inside Macy’s department stores.