While a crew of contractors unceremoniously set up the staging for the Boston Marathon’s finish line Saturday on Boylston Street, shoppers checked out nearby stores.
In its 120th year, the 26.2-mile race is the world’s oldest consecutively run marathon, but race organizers, sponsors and city officials are all banking on an immediate boost to the local economy. Marathon-related events are expected to increase the area’s economy by $188.8 million — nearly a $7 million jump compared to last year. That estimated 4 percent uptick, despite this year’s base of about 30,000 runners, is a slight downturn compared to 2015. In comparison, the New York City Marathon is said to generate more than $415 million annually.
This year’s 6,400 international participants from 98 countries — 800 more than last year — should be a key factor in the boost in spending, according to Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau president and chief executive officer Patrick Moscaritolo. Aside from their tendency to arrive in Boston a day or two early — the marathon will take place April 18 — and stay on for a few more days after, international runners also are more inclined to spend more on official Boston Marathon gear at the Fitness Expo for themselves, family and friends. “Think bragging rights — ‘I finished Boston, here’s my medal and I brought you back this $35 Boston Marathon shirt’,” he said.
As more athletic-oriented retailers are leaning on the experiential to reel in shoppers, Tracksmith has opened a runners’ lounge, showroom and pop-up store at 899 Boylston Street. The Pentland Group-owned brand is launching its Boston Qualifiers collection and a performance short inspired by Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. Another New England athletic brand, Janji, has unveiled a pop-up store that, like Tracksmith’s, will remain open through May 8. Yogasmoga will be trying to reel in runners to its pop-up shop in the Prudential Center with free bottles of water and Smogi Bucks, essentially dollar-value coupons for future purchases. The company is looking for a permanent space in the Boylston Street Arcade to join such other retailers as Sephora, according to founder Rishi Bali.
Many runners will no doubt make their way to Modell’s 11,000-square-foot store, which opened on Boylston Street last month. Massachusetts resident marathoners can try to win one of two $25,000 cash prizes by signing up for the retailer’s MVP program, buying something in the store before April 18 and being photographed in the race wearing that item. Closer to the finish line, the Boston Marathon Adidas RunBase has been organizing weekly group runs, offering free yoga, displaying marathon memorabilia. Taking the slow-as-a-turtle comparison literally, Adidas partnered with the Boston Museum of Science to bring a red-footed turtle into the store to use sensored technology to show the difference between warm-blooded and cold-blooded mammals. On April 19, finishers who purchase Adidas Boston Marathon apparel can return to the RunBase to have their times embroidered on the backs of their jackets.
At Nike’s Boston store, shoppers can customize their tanks over the weekend. While Adidas is the race’s sponsor of 28 years, Boston-based New Balance has canvased the downtown area with “Nobody Runs Like Boston” murals, banners and back-lit bus shelter wraps, and branding will be evident throughout the course. New Balance also is selling 3-D printed running shoes, the Fresh Foam 1080 and the Fresh Foam Zante v2.
“Boston Strong,” the motto the city embraced after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, can still be seen on shirts and signs in the Back Bay area, as well as a yellow bench in front of Ladder 15’s and Engine 33’s Boylston Street firehouse. This year’s race will be a drone-free zone and police officials will once again be out in force. The attacks are the premise for “Patriot’s Day,” a new film Boston native Mark Wahlberg recently started shooting with Jake Gyllenhaal.