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RC Outfitters offers a range of footwear and clothing and serves as a community hub for runners, walkers and fitness enthusiasts.

by Peoria Magazine |
Adam White

Established in 1977, RC Outfitters addresses individualized needs with solutions that improve personal comfort in one’s daily activity.

What is your biggest challenge as a retailer in 2020?
Our biggest challenge in 2020 is going to be the closure of the Murray Baker Bridge. This factor—combined with the hit our business has taken from the internet—could be devastating.

How has the internet impacted your business?
The internet has absolutely crushed our business. Sales have dropped and our staffing has been cut by 35 percent from three years ago. Although some consumers are very cognizant of the threats and consequences online shopping presents their home community, most consumers are unaware—or if they are, simply do not care. We continue to try to increase our value proposition to stay as competitive as we can. For years we have offered free shipping, and we now have an e-commerce platform to sell online.

Have you seen a sustained impact from recent Shop Local campaigns?
It is hard to gauge what impact the Shop Local campaigns have had on our business. They are a positive first step, but still need to go further. These campaigns really need to be going on 24/7 and hit the community on a regular basis with the “cost,” or should I say “loss,” to our community when one chooses to shop online. Our community needs to be inundated with information that is clear and concise, but illustrates what we are losing when we don’t support brick-and-mortar businesses.

What other trends are you seeing in retail?
Trends continue to show that innovation in products and the diversity of their application and use is key to our channel and our consumers. Additionally, we have to make sure that we are transparent on pricing, offering our customers a high level of knowledge about our products and the solutions they offer, while maintaining a pinnacle customer experience. PM

*Editor’s Note: Since this interview took place, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most retailers to close their doors, making a tough industry even more difficult. When we emerge from this crisis, local retailers will face all of the same challenges… and then some. Now more than ever, we must support them by shopping local.

Check out the rest of this series: “Exploring the Retail Landscape,” in the April 2020 issue of Peoria Magazine.

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