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StAART Program Aims To Boost Black Ownership Through Sneaker Retail Franchising

The Athlete's Foot recently launched a new initiative called the StAART program, which stands for the Strategic African American Retail Track. Darius Billings, the creator of the StAART program, shares how the program aims to drive Black retail ownership through franchising.
The Athlete's Foot recently launched a new initiative called the StAART program, which stands for the Strategic African American Retail Track. Darius Billings, the creator of the StAART program, shares how the program aims to drive Black retail ownership through franchising.
Credit / Courtesy of The Athlete's Foot

According to Fast Company, in 2020, the global sneaker market was valued at $79 billion and over the next five years, in 2026, the market is predicted to reach $ 120 billion.

But despite the business boom, equity challenges exist, Darius Billings, the senior director of product and marketing at The Athlete’s Foot USA, says the sneaker industry lacks diversity as it relates to retail ownership.

“There’s not a lot of Black owners on the retail side that has a relationship with all the brands and we are the number one consumers, explained Billings on Thursday’s edition of “Closer Look.”

Billings told show host Rose Scott that a lack of resources, capital and information contribute to the ownership gap.

And after a conversation, following the eruption of summer protests in 2020 at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, he was inspired to create the StAART program, the Strategic African American Retail Track.

Billings said that the goal new initiative is to drive Black ownership through franchising Athlete’s Foot stores.

To listen to the full conversation, click the audio player above.