Orthotics Demand Takes Off at KC Running Company
You may already know KC Running Company for its unique race management expertise and specialty retail gear on 135th Street, but step a little closer and you’ll discover another elite talent that’s quietly driving the success of this Martin City business.
“Orthotics easily makes up over half of our business, and it’s doubled in the past three years,” says store manager Seth Teague. “Our full name now is actually KC Running & Sports Medicine Store. Orthotics has a lot to do with that.”
What are orthotics? If you’re coping with foot pain, you probably already know. If not, you’ll still want to be aware. Simply put, orthotics amount to shoe inserts that properly position your foot to give your body the support it needs. Every foot is different, and shoes alone rarely get the full job done. That’s where orthotics step up. And we’re not talking about flimsy cushions on a rack at a drugstore. Orthotics are specialized support platforms that do heavy, functional lifting aimed at elevating an overall feeling of good health no matter how you use your feet.
“95% of our customers are not runners and don’t have any interest in running,” says Teague. “Orthotics are about living, not just running. The idea’s been around long before even jogging became a trend in the 1960s.”
Orthotics have been part of KC Running almost since the beginning about ten years ago when a relationship with a sports medicine professional blossomed into a premium service and a unique reputation. Now physical therapists, orthopedic doctors, surgeons, and chiropractors all over trust only KC Running to deliver the orthotics their patients need. Teague says a proven track record keeps them coming back.
“We work closely with the medical community to get each order and each fit exactly right. Medical professionals provide a prescription and often write in details about exact needs. We can deliver those details and craft even subtle adjustments for the specifics of each foot. We get dozens of referrals each week from chiropractors alone.”
At first, orthotics was only tied to relationships with medical professionals, but now KC Running is wide open to walk-ins. That’s because you don’t need a prescription to know your feet are hurting and need help. Teague is working with people from all walks of life who spend long days on hard floors ranging from retail, grocery, and convenience stores to industrial facilities and warehouses. He’s crafting orthotics fitting everything from flip-flops and work boots to walking shoes and even dress shoes for the office.
“Businesses with a lot of office space are more and more interested in orthotics as a benefit for their workers. They make up a big chunk of our revenue. On the other end of the spectrum, we even work with players from professional soccer, football, and baseball teams.”
The Right Fit Rules
KC Running & Sports Medicine Store is a fully accredited orthotics provider for two reasons: quality and customization. Competitors (and there are few) tend to rely on plastics and other materials that don’t hold up well, and keep you coming back for pricey replacements. In stark contrast, KC Running sticks to a premium hard rubber standard that stands the test of time.
“You want orthotics for the long run, not just a temporary fix. They’re constantly under pressure so the material is extremely important,” says Teague, showing us examples. “It must be designed to effectively absorb weight while also being easy to break in. ”
You can buy high-quality generic orthotics off the shelf at KC Running, but be aware that the designs are conservative and may not go far enough to meet your specific needs. There are also a couple of high-end shoe brands available at the store that can help, but they too lack enhanced customization.
“People ask for shoes with ‘good arch support’ but shoes are not generally designed for that. There are neutral shoes and stability-enhanced shoes, but nothing specifically that holds up the arch of your foot. All things considered, custom orthotics are the way to go if you want an exact match to your feet that lasts.”
While quality materials and painstaking customization make KC Running special, doing it all under one roof makes the business unique, even rare. Orthotics production usually involves multiple businesses working together. One might develop fitting measurements and then ship the order off to another business for production. However, KC Running will measure your feet and craft your orthotics right here in Martin City, ensuring consistency from start to finish and without the layers of profit markups and shipping costs resulting from two or more businesses involved in the process.
“We do it all here in Martin City and we do it very well,” says Teague, walking us through the way it all works. “Our process is carefully refined from start to finish. It’s very precise and we have a lot of experience.”
Step onto the digital scanner and delicate pins with sensors rise to map every aspect of the soles of your feet while lasers align with your leg. Within seconds you see a crisp image on a screen, detailing your arches and pressure points.
“At other businesses, you’ll be sold orthotics and told to come back a few times for adjustments at additional costs. We measure your feet precisely for a highly customized fit so you don’t have to worry about paying for big adjustments over and over again. We focus on getting it right the first time.”
The digital scanner then sends your measurements to a 3D printer which lays out the blueprint for making the orthotics and customizing the fit for your shoes. Teague then uses a $40,000 mill to personally craft the finished product. He carefully shaves the block, glues it to a cushion, and cuts it all exactly to specification. He’s made thousands of orthotics in a process that’s ultimately as much of an art as it is a science.
“This is the main difference between us and other businesses trying to compete with us. We literally have a hand in every step of the process and ensure a very high quality result. It’s full control and that translates into confidence for our customers.”
Gratitude for ‘life changing relief’
Do orthotics really make a difference? Skyrocketing demand for KC Running’s expertise says it all, but if you still need convincing, consider the reaction from customers.
“It’s really unbelievable,” says Teague as all kinds of personal stories rush to his mind. “People are so grateful and go to great lengths to thank us and brag about our work. They say these products are life changing. We hear that all the time. Some get pretty emotional.”
Think about it. Your feet are your physical foundation. If you can’t walk without pain, you don’t move around as much and your world shrinks. If your feet hurt at the end of a long day on the job, you’re just not happy and you invest time in recovering. Teague says that’s why orthotics yield so much potential.
“High quality, highly customized orthotics can give you your life back. They can get you moving again and enjoying the things you love again with less pain or no pain at all. I’ve had customers return to sports, hunting, and other hobbies they thought were gone for good. They come in and want to take photos with me and want to give me a hug. We stay in touch and I know I’ve made a difference.”
Teague is proud to say he can only recall one — just one — disappointed customer over the years. You can sense his passion about the solutions he champions. And his enthusiasm is compelling.
“This is really rewarding work, and you know, we don’t have much employee turnover. We all enjoy what we do and it’s a proud tradition that steadily builds our reputation for being a one stop shop offering quality shoes properly fitted to your feet. That’s what we do better than anyone.”