Portable Locker Rooms: A Way for Runners To Not Surrender Their Stuff
Molly MacDonald’s business was born from missing articles of clothing.
First, it was a black jacket that she tried to conspicuously hide behind a shrub before starting a 5K race on a wet September day. When she completed the competition, the jacket was nowhere to be found. Then there was the Nike half-zip in 2008. Vanished. And MacDonald can’t forget her 2010 Boston Marathon sweatshirt. Gone. On top of that, she said countless other race T-shirts that she’d received in her years as a runner—all of them, one-by-one—were plucked by strangers.
To solve her problem and to give sports competitors a place to stay dry and keep other belongings, MacDonald launched Blue Trailer, which provides portable locker rooms for races and other events. “We’re saving proverbial black rain jackets around New England from disappearing, and we couldn’t be more excited,” according to the story behind the company’s launch, posted on their website.
In the next 10 days, MacDonald, the company’s founder, will try to hit a fundraising goal of more than $2,500 so that Blue Trailer can compile materials for their first portable locker room to make its March 2014 debut.
Here’s what MacDonald had to say about how it all began:
So this all started with a stolen jacket at a race, huh? Is that a common problem?
You know, it’s like the unspoken runner’s dilemma! That last “lost” jacket was the tipping point after surrendering many layers at other events. At races, you have two options—use the bag check if it’s available, which means [you either] have to have a bag, [or] you don’t have easy access to your stuff again until after the race. Or find a great hiding spot. Before a race, you’re anxious, excited, sometimes cold, trying to stay hydrated, and obviously trying to get your Instagrams and Facebook uploads in before you start running and sweating! So now, with Blue Trailer, runners will be able to stay comfortable and relaxed before the race, knowing they can pop over to their locker, right before the start, and store their phone, zip-up, water bottle, or whatever else they want to have pre- and post-race, but not during.
Obviously this would benefit runners. What other sports groups could utilize your product?
We’ve already talked to a lacrosse organization about teaming up, and then of course walks, bikes, and swims are good targets as well. Anytime there’s a big tournament going on—soccer, rugby, [etcetera], participants would benefit from having a monitored place to keep their belongings.
Can you tell us about the locker designs?
Our contractor is actually headed out to Brimfield to scout out lockers to modify for the trailer. We’ll be working with metal lockers, but they’ll look a lot cooler than they did in high school! We’ll have three sizes: small, medium, and large. Small will hold the basics like phone, keys, wallet; medium will be a bit bigger for layers, water bottles, and such; and then large will be big enough to hold bags.
How many are you planning to make?
In year one, we’re working with one trailer, which will hold roughly 500 lockers. We’re looking at this as an extended testing period to make sure our sizes and structure are ideal. The goal is to add a second trailer in year two, a third in year three, and so on. This will allow us to hit more races but also expand to other sporting events, outdoor festivals, concerts, and so on.
How important is it for competitors to have this sort of option when heading into a big game or event?
Those pre-start jitters never really go away, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a [new athlete], so being comfortable physically and relaxed mentally is so important. It’s not a time you want to be worrying about whether your keys will be under that tree still when you finish or wishing you could wear your zip-up for just a bit longer to stay warm before you hit the course. Having that feeling of security and convenience will be clutch for so many participants.
Besides shelter, what other amenities will the lockers have?
We’re teaming up with health and wellness and fitness brands, plus other local businesses, to craft “good luck” bags for each locker. They’ll contain anything from a card with a promo code to a coupon to a free sample, and we’re going to randomly hide bigger prizes like Blue Trailer-branded tanks and sweatshirts, too. And, we’re making a commitment to pledge a portion of our proceeds to charity. The race has the option for us to donate to their beneficiary, otherwise we’ll add it to our yearly donation to an ALS charity (we’re still in the process of choosing which one). A dear friend of mine was diagnosed with the disease last year, so finding a cure for Lou Gehrig’s is a cause that I really want to support.
You’re in pre-launch mode now, but when is the big unveiling?
March 2014 with the Black Cat 10- and 20-miler in Salem. B&S Event Management runs the race, and we’ve partnered with them, so expect us at their events next year. They’re a great crew, and we’re so happy to be launching with the Black Cat. It’s a time when a lot of runners are getting ready for the Marathon, so the excitement will be pretty high.