Franklin Retail Solutions, Tracksmith, OIA and Balega

Boston-based running apparel brand Tracksmith has signed Mary Cain and Nick Willis to a new kind of athlete sponsorship model that will see the runners join the brand as full-time employees in the marketing department while training with an eye to competing in the rescheduled Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Cain, who broke records as a high school athlete, left Nike over allegations that she made public in an op-ed in the The New York Times last November that coach Alberto Salazar created an abusive, weight-obsessed culture. New Zealander Willis is an Olympic silver and bronze medalist in the 1500m and former Adidas athlete.

The company describes the agreements as a new partnership model that removes the competition and performance incentives common in athlete agreements to let the athlete and the brand focus on long-term career health and athletic development.

Cathy Pryor, former chair of the National Sports Goods Association and executive officer and VP  of store operations at Hibbert Sports, has been named president at Franklin Retail Solutions. Pryor has more than 25 year’s experience in the sporting goods and fitness industries.

“We are thrilled to have someone like Cathy Pryor leading Franklin Retail Solutions’ team. Her accomplishments and expertise are recognized throughout our industry,” Marty Lillis, CEO of Franklin Retail Solutions, said in a release. “We look forward to Cathy bringing that talent and experience to her new role with us.”

Franklin Retail Solutions provides merchandising, marketing services and in-store reports across North America, and are the mystery shop partner for Footwear Insight’s Gold Medal Service Awards.

The Outdoor Industry Association is urging Congress to aid the outdoor recreation economy in a new letter sent to congressional leaders and signed by more than 60 outdoor industry leaders including Steve Rendle, chairman, president and CEO of VF Corp., Eric Artz, president and CEO of REI Co-op, and Rose Marcario, president and CEO of Patagonia. The letter urges Congress to pass the bipartisan Great American Outdoor Act, which provides permanent funding for the Land and Water Conversation Fund and allocates dollars for address maintenance backlogs on public lands, as well as to streamline permitting to help local tourism and expand the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The outdoor industry supports 7.6 million jobs and represents 2.2 percent of the nation’s GDP, the letter notes.

“The outdoor recreation economy is a force, connecting people to the outdoors and providing jobs in all 50 states. We are doing everything we can to support people across our country who are increasingly turning to the outdoors to support their physical health and mental wellbeing, but we cannot fully recover without help from Congress,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director of Outdoor Industry Association. “Behind the millions of jobs and billions in tax revenue created by the outdoor recreation industry are businesses small and large and their employees, local communities and families that depend on a strong network of public lands. Federal investment in recreation infrastructure is needed now to ensure families, businesses and the great outdoors can all thrive.”

Performance sock brand Balega is working with Boston-based Marathon Sports to donate 1,000 pairs of socks to food banks in the New England area. Through Balega’s nonprofit Lesedi Project, Marathon and Balega will donate socks to the volunteers and essential workers at the New Hampshire Food Bank, The Greater Boston Food Bank and the Connecticut Food Bank.