STORE OF THE YEAR
Ridgefield Running & Darien Running
Two locations: Ridgefield Running, Ridgefield, CT; Darien Running, Darien, CT
Key Personnel: Megan Searfoss, Owner and Founder; Kristina MicKool, Controller; Casey Muminovic, Marketing Manager; Nancy Barlow, Events and Training Manager; Cat Granskog, Accessories Buyer; Jenn Collias, Medical Outreach/Manager; Shirley Wittner, Special Orders/Manager
History: Ridgefield Running Company, a woman-led company, opened in 2014 and Darien Running opened during the pandemic in 2020. Its focus is to “meet the forward movement of the consumer where they are, whether it is running, walking or simply to be comfortable.”
In Their Words: “The RRC/DRC team continues to push innovation and technology while always offering a welcome smile, great conversation and a personalized fit process. The “Not a Runner” Community has realized that we are welcoming to everyone that walks through our doors. From initial FIT scans to checking out, our process moves away from a transactional experience to a relationship. There is no stand-behind cash wrap or line to wait in — we take care of the customer at the fit bench. Ridgefield Running also made great efforts to have stock available during the supply chain crisis to serve our customers.”
Their Local Running Community: “With more than 20 community welcoming events per month, our community looks forward to our monthly calendar. From Trail Runs to the Turkey Transit (we run frozen turkeys to the Open Door Shelter for Thanksgiving), we provide opportunity to all of our athletes to engage with brands, give back to the community and have a social experience. We host five races annually, but it is our partnerships with nonprofits and community organizations that our community loves the most. This year, we hosted Run X Art, a partnership with On Running that brought together The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and our community to bring awareness to 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone. We continue to try to find runners where they are by donating shoes to a cross-country high school team each year in Bridgeport, CT, an impoverished city where most kids are running in inappropriate running shoes.”
What the Award Means to Them: “This award is incredibly important to the entire RRC/DRC Team and, equally, to our community. While we are their biggest cheerleaders, they have become ours, it’s truly a team effort. To our team it is acknowledgement that what they do daily is being recognized by the industry.
Advice to Retailers: “I’ll throw all the props to my team, their execution on my vision is incredible, and then they typically further improve on what is laid out. Finding people that believe the same way that you do — that there is relevance in being a quality human that makes the work environment a great place to be. When the team understands this, the customers come in.”
Fleet Feet Louisville
Key Personnel: Erin Getz, Operating Partner; Patrick Hammond, Retail Experience Manager; Donnie Fry, Assistant Retail Experience Manager; Myrdin Thompson, Training Program Director; Suzanne Melloy, Full Time Outfitter & Team Lead
History: Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the store opened its doors in 1999. Erin Getz has been the Operating Partner since 2017.
In Their Words: “Our entire team and our grassroots involvement in our community make the store unique. We incorporate our core values into everything we do, both inside the store and out in our community. We believe that it is a privilege to serve, whether that is listening to our customers’ needs, supporting our training program participants, cheering on our Racing Team members or sponsoring and participating in local races and events.”
Their Local Running Community: One of the most unique aspects of the Louisville running community is the overlap and support the groups have for each other. It’s really special. You’ll see people running with one group then heading to another later in the day or week and groups sharing events, runs, races for each other.
What the Award Means to Them: We are so honored and humbled to have been nominated for this award. This is what keeps us going each and every day. It shows us that everything that we do for our customers and our community is being recognized and is making a difference.
Advice to Retailers: Follow these core values:
• Do the Right Thing
• Put People First
• It is a Privilege to Serve
• Create Value with Every Action
• Lead and Influence in All We Do
• Engage and Empower Our Community
• Be Present in Every Moment
• Work, Sweat, Live Passionately
• Run Together
Palmetto Running Company
Hilton Head Island, SC; Bluffton, SC
Key Personnel: Christian Fyfe, Robert Fyfe and Keri Straughn, Co-owners; Tammy Zito, General Manager
History: It all started with a club. When Rob Fyfe moved from New York to Bluffton, SC, in 2010 he noticed something was missing — a running community. So he began connecting area runners and walkers and started the PRC Run Club. After realizing the demand for a specialty running store in the Lowcountry area, Rob decided to take the next step and open up Palmetto Running Company in Bluffton in 2011. A year later, Christian Fyfe (Rob’s son) joined him in ownership of the business and helped grow the company and brand to where it is today, including opening a second store location on Hilton Head Island in 2014. Keri (Rob’s daughter) joined the team in 2018 with a focus on marketing and visual merchandising and helped to create a cohesive brand story for the company.
In Their Words: “Here at PRC we are doing our best to ‘Protect the Ground You Run On.’ In late 2019, we launched The PRC Eco-Initiative with the collective goal to purchase and sell more environmentally responsible products as well as find new ways to improve the sustainability of our planet and more directly, our local environment. With the support we received both in our local community and the overall running industry, as well as being recognized at last year’s The Running Event with the Impact Award presented by On Running, co-owners Christian and Keri felt it was the right time to take our mission to the industry level. In December 2021 we launched the @lowimpactalliance, an industry-wide alliance of brands, retailers and events to promote transparency and environmental responsibility within the running industry by educating, advocating, and inspiring action for impactful change.”
What the Award Means to Them:“Everything. We exist for our community and we exist because of our community. We are so honored to have been a part of the best running stores for the last four years. To be nominated by our own customers means everything to us.”
Advice to Retailers: “As business owners, we believe that owning a store is about so much more than the day to day. It’s about what you choose to do with the platform you’ve been given. I think our ability to share our passion, our efforts to make a difference in the community and continuing the conversation with the products we sell in store is what has created such a bond with our customers and our community.”
Shu’s Idaho Running Company
Key Personnel: Everyone is an essential part of the business and the success of it.
History: The store was started by Mike Shuman and his wife, Kathyrn (Kit), in 1997 under a different business name. In 2008, the name was changed to Shu’s Idaho Running Company and has operated under that name in the same location since then. In 2020, Mike’s health became more of a priority and Leone Rusher stepped into the role of running the store. Rusher played a huge part in the business starting in the early 2000s and it has progressed into more and more responsibility. In 2022, not knowing what Mike’s health journey was going to entail, Rusher purchased the store from him, wanting to carry on what Mike had started — making people aware of the benefits of running not only physically, but mentally as well.
In Their Words: “Our customer service is top notch. We strive to make the customers feel very welcome when they walk through the doors. We also believe our genuine interest in the customer is very important, helps them to feel more comfortable coming in. Plus, we love what we do and it shows through to the customer and/or community. We also help with a lot of events through providing prizes, equipment and/or consulting and spreading the word about what’s happening within our community.”
Their Local Running Community: “Our community is a very active one. There are miles of trails within walking distance of the store and we have the greenbelt that runs along the river from one end of town through to the joining town. There are several events on the weekends, sometimes just in one day there can be a few different races. The running community is very supportive of each other and the events around town.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Winning the award means an incredible amount. We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles over the last few years and we pushed forward to where we are today. As for the staff, they are very excited and proud to be a part of something so great and the impact they are making on the community and individuals.”
Advice to Retailers: “If you love what you do, it’s never work and the enjoyment shows on our faces every day. The customers will see that joy and love the atmosphere of the environment.”
1ST PLACE SPORTS
Five stores in the Jacksonville, FL, metro area
Key Personnel: Doug and Jane Alred, Owners; Ryann Lohman, Apparel Buyer and Social Media Director; Bryan Doyle, Director of Operations/Footwear Buyer; Stephen Cox, Regional Manager
History: Doug and Jane Alred founded 1st Place Sports in 1978 and the business now consists of five stores.
In Their Words: “Our welcoming environment, our consistent, long-term staff (many of whom have been with us from 10 to 30 years), excellent customer service, selection of products and extensive involvement in the community make our stores unique. Additionally, we are committed to the sport of running and we offer top-notch running events all year long. Many races help contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars not only to charities, but to the community and economy of Jacksonville.”
What the Award Means to Them: “We are always proud to be recognized as one of the top running stores in the country. Validation is always appreciated whether it comes from your fellow retailers, customers or a co-worker. We want everyone to walk out of our stores having had a positive experience and feeling that our staff went above and beyond. That sort of dedication is something we want to share over the next 44 years with customers, their families and friends.”
A RUNNERS MIND
Three locations in the Bay Area of CA: San Francisco, Burlingame and Los Altos
Key Personnel: Monte Keleher, Owner; Eileen Urtz, General Manager; Nick Kovaleski, Director of Operations; Derek Wun, Footwear Buyer. Store Managers: Dom Chelini, Carlos Guerra, Chance Kinney, Cindy Phan, Diego Solano. Sebastian Lizard, ARM Mascot
History: The business was founded in 2010 in Burlingame, the San Francisco store opened in 2013 and the Los Altos location was added in 2017.
In Their Words: “From our youngest part-time team member to our most seasoned leader, everyone works the sales floor together, collectively striving to be the best running store in all the land. Our motto, ‘Movement is Life,’ drives everything we do and fuels our desire to be better every single day. We bring our best selves to the job, but also our most fun selves. Laughter powers us through everything we do, in the back stock rooms, on the sales floor and out on our runs. We love what we do and we bring that sense of fun to our running community.”
What the Award Means to Them: “We are incredibly honored to receive this award, especially since it started with being nominated by our beloved running community. At ARM, we are driven by our passion to help people move and exercise in order to live out their best lives. Running draws the ARM team together and providing the absolute best experience for our guests feeds our passion. The award not only validates our hard work over the past year, but inspires us to work harder and show up in new and better ways for our community. Movement can drive us all toward a more healthy and equitable tomorrow.”
A SNAIL’S PACE RUNNING SHOP
Four locations in California: Fountain Valley, Mission Viejo, Brea, Monrovia
Key Personnel: Joe Lourenco, President and CEO; Diana Rosete, VP–Operations; Frank Paonessa, CFO; Sydney Burrescia, Footwear PLM; Holly Pellitteri, Apparel PLM; Erin Maher, Accessory PLM; Alex Mendoza, Digital Marketing; Hailey Anderson, Marketing Director; Michelle Montiel, Run Club Director. General Managers: Michael Hicks, Fountain Valley; Scott LaRuffa, Mission Viejo; Jay Auditor, Brea; Jason Duarte, Monrovia; Cyrus Bastani, Distribution Center
History: A Snail’s Pace was founded in 1979 by Dave Reynolds. Eddie Johnson joined in 1993 and Joe Lourenco came on in 2000. Johnson became a partner in the late 1990s and Lourenco became a partner in 2009. Reynolds retired in 2013, selling his share of the business to Johnson, Lourenco and Tiffany Yocom. Johnson and Yocom retired in July 2022, leaving Lourenco as the sole owner. The business currently operates four locations throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties, employing more than 50 people.
In Their Words: “We care. We care about our customers. We care about the community. We care about our employees. Every decision we make takes into account how it will positively affect those three things.”
What the Award Means to Them: “It validates all of the hard work and effort everyone on our staff puts into providing the best experience for customers. There’s a strong sense of pride among staff every time we are nominated.”
BULL CITY RUNNING
Two locations in Durham NC
Key Personnel: Kim Chapman and Jason Page, Founders/Owners
History: Founded in 2008, Bull City Running Co. is the premier running and walking specialty shop in the Durham area. Named the Best Running Store in the Triangle and a Top Running Store in America for multiple years, the flagship shop celebrated its 14th birthday in September, 2022, and a second shop – a COVID baby – opened in August, 2020.
In Their Words: “We have thoughtfully and carefully designed programs and resources to serve every level of athlete. From true beginner running (and run-walk) programs to full marathon training programs, to our fun-focused Kids Run Durham program for children, to Bull City Track Club that competes at local and international levels, there is truly something for everyone here and it’s the most fun part of our job.”
Their Local Running Community: Durham is a beautiful, diverse, gritty mix of the old meets new. Originally a tobacco manufacturing town and made famous for the iconic baseball movie, Bull Durham, it is now a hub of tech start-ups and entrepreneurs, surrounded by thee world-class research universities and Division 1 athletic programs. The Triangle area, which Durham is a part of, is the number one destination in the United States for relocation. It’s growing quickly and so is our local running community.
What The Award Means to Them: This award is motivation, inspiration and validation all wrapped up! We thrive on being the hub of the local running community and we are proud to be a locally owned, socially responsible, small business. We make a difference by being a solutions-oriented shop for runners, walkers and fitness enthusiasts of all levels. Every day we exist to exceed the expectations of our customers, our community partners and our staff and to make everyone’s day a little better in the process.
CHARLOTTE RUNNING COMPANY
Four locations: Dilworth, South Charlotte and Mooresville, NC; and Riverwalk (Rock Hill), SC
Key Personnel: Owners: Scott Dvorak, Donny Forsythe, Jamie Davis, Harry Chandler. Store Managers: Matt Miles, Kim Gallien, Maggie King, Porter Kennedy
History: In 2000, the Charlotte Running Company opened its doors in the historical Leeper-Wyatt Grocery store building in the South End District. It was initially a partnership between former professional distance runners Scott Dvorak and Eric Hichman (the latter departed the company in 2003). Dvorak opened a second store in South Charlotte in 2006. In 2009, Donny Forsyth joined CRC as the first brand partner with his purchase of the Promenade store in South Charlotte from Forsythe. The CRC owners group expanded in 2011 with the addition of Todd Joefreda, who partnered with Dvorak to open the Mooresville store (as well as the Northlake location that closed earlier this year) in 2014. In 2016, Joefreda left CRC, and with the purchase of both the Northlake and Mooresville locations, Jamie Davis joined the ownership group. That same year, Dvorak and Forsythe partnered to open the Riverwalk location.
In Their Words: “What makes our store unique is our atmosphere. It feels like you just came home when you walk in. Our team, our culture, our community and our friends. It’s not just a retail space, it’s a refuge.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Receiving this award means that we have met our commitment to our community and the industry by making Charlotte our priority and purpose. It feels great to know that we aren’t too far off in our endeavors and that Charlotte Running Company is making a difference.”
CHARM CITY RUN
Eight retail locations: Annapolis, Bel Air, Columbia, Fells Point-Baltimore City, Gaithersburg, Timonium, and Frederick, MD; Rehoboth Beach, DE.
Key Personnel: Josh Levinson, Owner and Founder; Tom Levinson, President; Will Murdoch, Director of Events; Brian Nasuta, VP and Footwear Buyer; Ben Pickett, Regional General Manager
History: Charm City Run, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, was founded in 2002 by husband and wife, Josh and Kara Levinson. Since opening the first store in Timonium, the business has since expanded to include seven locations throughout Maryland and one store in Delaware.
In Their Words: “As a business, we are three-pronged. Our eight retail locations offer a one-stop-shop for all your running and exercise needs including apparel, accessories, nutrition and more. We also offer training groups to help you whether you’re attempting your first race or striving for a new personal record. From 5Ks to middle-distance to triathlons, Charm City Run Events offers the best in racing in the Mid-Atlantic region. Our retail locations, training programs and races have many benefits, but our real accomplishment is the lifelong friendships that have been created and the healthy habits that have been cultivated. Making a difference is ingrained in our corporate culture. Charm City Run is also unique because in 2020 we created the Live. Give. Run. Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to officially support the Maryland-based organizations and programs that Charm City Run has been supporting for over 20 years. In that time, we have donated over $1 million to Maryland-based nonprofits that provide educational resources to the underserved, protect our environment and deliver physical fitness opportunities to marginalized communities.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Receiving the Best Running Stores recognition is an opportunity to reflect on everyone’s hard work and to recognize that it matters what Charm City Run puts out there every day. It is affirmation that we do things the right way and the customer and community take note of our efforts. The recognition also provides a platform to thank the Charm City Run family for all that it does day in and day out, even when no one is watching.”
Three locations in New York: Binghamton, Corning and Hudson Valley (Goshen)
Key Personnel: Matthew Francis Gawors, CEO and Owner, Jennifer Gawors, Everything Else Officer-Buyer of Wares, Douser of Fires, Slayer of Dragons; Chris Cowden, Regional Manager
History: Confluence Running opened its first location in May, 2013 in Binghamton, NY. The Corning location followed in 2018 and the Hudson Valley store opened in 2020.
In Their Words: “Our company is unique due to our innovative business model that allows us to survive in very difficult markets, as well as our development of Dynamic Footwear Specialists, a leading education program and professional certification in dynamic footwear science developed by Binghamton University’s Health Professors and Biology Masters. We hope to revolutionize our industry to reflect a more standardized and research-based knowledge [platform] for all employees in independent and small run specialty stores.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Receiving this award shows us and our staff how much we can accomplish when we really pull together to do our very best to show amazing customer service and create a fantastic brand. As much as it’s motivating to have such an amazing recognition, it is also a fantastic rallying point for the staff to inspire them to keep it up and do their best every day to help improve our community physical, mentally and emotionally.”
DICK POND ATHLETICS
Five retail locations in the Chicago area
Key Personnel: Lindy Pond, Owner; Kristin Pond and Samantha Pond manage the business. Store Managers: Debbie Crawford (Carol Stream), Krista Del Risco (Lisle), Glen Kamps (St. Charles), Chris Wilhite (Park Ridge), Missy Bacik (Hoffman Estates).
History: Dick Pond founded the business in 1969 by selling track spikes out of the back of his car. The business then moved into his garage until he opened his first retail location in 1984. Dick Pond passed away of leukemia in 1991, leaving the business to his wife, Lindy. She expanded the business to five retail store locations, while still focusing on getting shoes to athletes via the company’s shoemobiles.
In Their Words: “We have six shoemobiles that travel daily to track and XC practices, camps, meets, races, community events — you name it.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Dick Pond Athletics, the ‘first’ run specialty retailer, is honored to be recognized as one of the best. All of us, whether awarded this recognition or not, do amazing things to improve people’s lives every day. That’s why we do it, and that makes all of us pretty great.”
FLEET FEET CHICAGO
Eight locations in the Chicago area: Chicago (four stores: Old Town, South Loop, Lakeview, Lincoln Square); Elmhurst, Oak Park, Deerfield, Rockford
Key Personnel: Dave and Lisa Zimmer, Owners; Nick Hurley, Director of Merchandise and Retail; Dan Lakin, Director of Brand Marketing; Molly McQueeny, Digital Marketing Manager; Kristin Phillips, Apparel and Accessories Buyer; Jordan Vear, Footwear Buyer
History: Fleet Feet Chicago was founded in 1996 by Dave and Lisa Zimmer, a Chicago couple with a huge passion for running. Neither had previous retail experience (Dave was in finance, Lisa in marketing), but they understood the transformational power of lacing up a pair of sneakers. Both quit their jobs to pursue a shared passion, soon opening Chicago’s first Fleet Feet storefront on North Avenue. The couple has since grown the business to eight stores.
In Their Words: “Since 1996, Fleet Feet Chicago has worked to transform running from a casual activity into a sought-after lifestyle. Their personalized, in-store fit process is only the beginning of their customers’ journey. They continue to educate and engage their community by hosting weekly fun runs, offering training programs through Chicago Endurance Sports, sponsoring advanced athletes through the New Balance Fleet Feet Racing Team, supporting dozens of charity endurance programs and even partnering with the Chicago Area Runners Association and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on major industry initiatives.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Our staff strives every day to provide the best customer service in our industry — and in any industry. We are always trying to create raving fans and being recognized as one of best shows that we are succeeding in our mission to be the best. The award means that we continue to push the industry to new standards and raise the bar each day for all stores. Our 26 years of experience and our drive and motivation continues to change industry standards and change lives — thus living our motto, ‘Running Changes Everything!’”
FLEET FEET DAVENPORT
Key Personnel: Phil and Jackie Young, Owners; Kayla Skotzke, Retail Experience Manager; Michelle Burken, Inventory Director/Buyer
History: The store opened in March, 2016 in Phil Young’s hometown of Davenport.
In Their Words: “Our people and their presence make our store unique. We hire, train up and celebrate towards teammates that can embody our store’s core values — namely, ‘We give our sincerest energies indiscriminately.’ Every outfitting, every category of customer, every sponsored event, every training run – fast or slow, big or small, ease or toil – we aim to show up with energy for everyone.”
What the Award Means to Them: “This means a great deal to us. We don’t campaign or plead for nominations, as we think any award-worthiness we might have should be self-evident. So to be recognized by our customers and community members suggests that we remain aimed at the right outcomes to the point that we’re being noticed. It’s also humbling when we read other stores’ stories and profiles, to understand that we’re being placed in such company.”
FLEET FEET FORT WAYNE
Two locations in Fort Wayne, IN
Key Personnel: Kevin and Jeanice Croy, Owners; Maggie Schuck, Director of Operations; Sara Miller, Training Group Coordinator. Store Managers: Samantha Perkins, Michael Conte, Lucas Campos
History: Fleet Feet Fort Wayne was founded in August, 2013, and a second location opened in August, 2022 on the North Side of Fort Wayne. The business, which employs more than 15 full-time and part-time staff, has serviced the running, fitness and medical communities with footwear, apparel and accessories for more than nine years. Fleet Feet Fort Wayne also trains and educates more than 400 runners and walkers with its numerous yearly training programs and clinics.
In Their Words: “Fleet Feet Fort Wayne has always been about community outreach. It is not just a retail store — it is the hub of the community for people seeking help with their fitness and overall health. We support many local organizations that promote diversity and we embody the Fleet Feet mantra, ‘Running Changes Everything.’ We believe in sharing knowledge with the community and creating a place with positive energy where people can meet or visit that gives them a respite from the stress of their daily lives.”
What the Award Means to Them: “We are very humbled and honored to receive this award. It means so much to our staff. It is truly a team effort. It reaffirms that we are moving in the right direction with all of our community outreach programs and our ongoing staff training. Helping to make a positive impact in our community is our number one focus. We are proud to represent Fort Wayne as community that is trying to make a difference in people’s lives in a good, uplifting and meaningful way.”
FLEET FEET HARTFORD
West Hartford, CT
Key Personnel: Stephanie and Carrie Blozy, Owners; Fernanda Jacobs and Natalie Carpenter, Managers
History: Fleet Feet West Hartford is currently celebrating its 25th year in business. The store is owned and operated by the Blozy sisters and their incredible crew of hard-working, fun-loving staff.
In Their Words: “Most of the best running stores do many of the same things in terms of servicing customers and building community — I like to think we do those things to the max! We are fortunate to have many physical therapy and prosthetics/orthotic graduate students on staff, as well as staff who love to run – some super-fast, some casual-paced – and covering an age range of 18 to 77, so our customers see a reflection of themselves in us. I’m also super proud of all the events we host that bring people together, especially when they need connection, community and support the most.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Receiving this award is validation that all the long hours, hard work and effort we put into creating a store stocked with the products people want/need, staffed by knowledgeable, passionate and compassionate people, and being a part of the community is worth it.”
FLEET FEET LEXINGTON
Key Personnel: Amy Varner, Owner and Badass in Charge; Jimmy Lovett, Retail Experience Manager; Gabbi McErlean, Training Program Manager; Starr Gantz, Rockstar Extraordinaire
History: The store opened in March, 2019 and three days after its one-year anniversary, the COVID shutdown hit. The city rallied and customers continued to call and place orders with the store daily, even though they couldn’t come in for a proper fitting. Since then, the business has continued to grow and fall even more in love with the local running community.
In Their Words: “We are a small team in a small store and that, I think, is what makes us so powerful. Each and every person on my team is dedicated to the store and the customer. We are not just looking to make a sale — we are looking to make a connection and improve someone’s life.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Everything! Is that an okay answer? I have always known I have the best crew in the world, and receiving this award lets everyone know what I have always said. I am so proud of them for their determination to always be better.”
FLEET FEET MONTCLAIR
Key Personnel: Owners John and Dawn Fabbro and a dedicated staff of 25-ish, including their three daughters and leadership team: Chelsea, Madeline and Emilia Fabbro, Paul Giuliano, Mary Spink, Bill VanTreuren, Axel Arroyo and Liz Wright.
History: Founded November 1, 1987. The Montclair store was the second Fleet Feet east of Lake Tahoe.
In Their Words: “We have remained true to our goal of using running as a means to build community health and wellness. Celebrating our 35th anniversary this year, in the midst of a store expansion, has us shaking our heads — amazed and grateful to a supportive community that continues to believe in us and a little shocked that we are still changing and growing. We are a Best Running Store because of the creativity and energy our staff and customers bring us each and every day.”
Their Local Running Community: Their community is rich with a diversity of thinking, ability, body type, race, gender and socio-economics. They are personally and professionally challenged 24/7 to expand limiting boundaries and throw the doors of possibility open a little wider.
What the Award Means to Them: “Wow! We know the daily hard work needed to be a successful brick-and-mortar running specialty store. To be counted among the top running stores in the country is heartwarming, makes us take in a heavy sigh and inspires us to keep doing what we believe in.”
FLEET FEET NASHVILLE
Three locations: Nashville, TN; Brentwood, TN: and
Key Personnel: Christi Beth Adams, Owner/Operator, plus a team of 80-plus amazing folks
History: Brentwood was the first location, opened February 2000, followed by the Nashville location in 2013, and Hendersonville in 2017.
In Their Words: “Our entire team exemplifies the core value, ‘It’s a privilege to serve.’ There’s a true desire to connect with each customer and make them feel seen and to leave them better than you found them. It’s aspirational, but we want to make their visit into our store the highlight of their day.”
Their Local Running Community: “Runners share common hopes and fears and experiences, which is why you can meet another runner from anywhere or any age and have a common bond with them. They joke that maybe their running community talks more about the Enneagram on their runs than folks in their communities. They do really like to complain about the humidity and then they complain about the winter.”
What the Award Means to Them: “It’s just validation in a work world that more often than not places a higher value on pay and job title and climbing a corporate ladder. There are folks who make a lot of personal sacrifices to work in run specialty because they love it so much. Everyone wants/needs validation and affirmation.”
FLEET FEET PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Three locations in Spokane and two locations in the Puget Sound area, WA
Key Personnel: Wade and Julie Pannell, Owners; Micah Estelle and Nicole Coburn, Partners
History: The first store opened in Spokane in 2012 and two more stores were added later. The business then expanded to the west side of the state with two stores in the Puget Sound area, bringing the total number of doors to five.
In Their Words: “We have a coffee shop in our Kendall Yards location. We love the space this makes for guests to hang out and connect before or after a run. Our vision is to ‘Inspire the Athlete’ in everyone. We support a variety of programs to encourage wellness in our community, including 5K to marathon training groups, youth XC, running groups for recovery programs and fun runs. This spring we partnered with Saucony and gave away over 400 pairs of shoes to underprivileged youth in XC/track programs. Kids signed up and got to come to the Podium, an amazing new indoor track facility in Spokane, to be fitted and get shoes, socks and a shirt.”
What the Award Means to Them: “We are grateful to be chosen by our community as a top store in the industry. We hope to continue to grow and better serve our customers each and every day with exceptional service. Our staff works hard to be consistent and serve each person that comes into our stores.”
FLEET FEET RICHMOND
Three locations: Westhampton, Short Pump and Midlothian, VA
Key Personnel: Jeff and Jason Wells, Owners; Harrison Toney, General Manager; Anthony Snipes, Buyer; Kerri Toney, Floor Manager; Baily Butler, Outreach Coordinator
History: The original Westhampton location opened in June 2014, followed by the Short Pump store a year later. The third location, Midlothian, is scheduled to open in December 2022.
In Their Words: “We cater not only to the running customer, but to walkers, patients under medical advice and just folks on their feet all day. Our community is very comfortable visiting our stores no matter what their needs are. Our diverse staff is always up to the opportunity to create the best shopping experience for all of our customers.”
What the Award Means to Them: “The Award is just a small confirmation that we are meeting our goal to provide for our community and give back to our deserving customer base. The award is a testimony that we have both community and staff. It’s nice to see that both are being recognized.”
FLEET FEET ROCHESTER
Three locations: Rochester, Victor and Buffalo, NY
Key Personnel: David “Boots” Boutillier and Ellen Brenner, Owners; Barb Boutillier, General Manager. Special Mention: Kelly Lanzafame, Inventory Manager, who lost her life to cancer this year but had a huge impact on the success of the stores over the past seven years.
History: Boots and Ellen opened Fleet Feet Rochester in July, 2004 while growing their event company, Yellow Jacket Racing. Fleet Feet Buffalo was purchased in 2014 and Fleet Feet Victor opened in 2019.
In Their Words: “What makes us unique is the ability to offer year-round race production events and retail experiences across the two western-most cities in western New York, while often enduring some of country’s worst weather conditions. We have an ability to constantly create new opportunities for the customer to enjoy and appreciate walking and running, while also giving back to the community in as many ways as possible.
What the Award Means to Them: “This is a very special year with the loss of Kelly. It was extremely hard on staff and the leadership team to have such a young, vibrant, integral part of the business pass away. In a work environment it has such a unique impact on the team and how they work through the grief while still providing a high level of service to our customers. This one is dedicated to Kelly.”
FLEET FEET WEST READING
West Reading, PA
Key Personnel: Sorita Averill, Owner/Founder; Jason Corby, General Manager
History: Averill opened the store in 2004, then called A Running Start, to realize her dream of providing a service-oriented shop where runners of all ages and abilities could find shoes, technical apparel and accessories to meet their needs. A Running Start joined the Fleet Feet family in 2018.
In Their Words: “All running stores feature products and inventory — what makes our store unique is our staff and their commitment to personalized service, customer satisfaction and community involvement. Running stores are where you go to find products, but also to learn and grow as a runner and connect with your tribe. People seek us out because they have heard from friends, colleagues or family members that we are the best at fitting shoes (with the help of our state-of-the-art 3D foot scanner) and because we take the time to listen to customers and address their specific needs. Our biggest asset is customer service and connecting to our community by hosting fun events for runners, but also helping those in need find comfortable footwear. We work with a local homeless shelter (Opportunity House), and youth club (Olivet’s Boys and Girls Club), to provide them with lightly used, returned or donated shoes.”
What the Award Means to Them: “It means the world to us! It demonstrates that our customers and community value our services and love us back by nominating us and writing nice reviews.
Key Personnel: Brian Lord, Owner; Colleen Moyer, Store Manager; Colton Gale, Assistant Manager; Chris Erxleben, Assistant Manager; Thomas Morgan, Buyer
History: Founded in May 1995, with one store location.
In Their Words: “One of the largest factors to our success as a business is our people. Our staff is passionate, joyful, empathetic and energetic. This isn’t just a job to the team — they really want to be here. The atmosphere around the store is that of encouragement, accountability and hard work. It’s an energy that customers can feel. The second key element in our quest is that we’re constantly attempting to evolve and adapt as the industry changes and as the needs of our customers change. We do our best to not just notice trends, but to have humility as we approach discussions about our shortcomings in order to improve. If we can take a step back to give ourselves an honest appraisal, it allows us to place our customers and community at the center of the discussion and revolve our world around them. We recognize that without our community, we wouldn’t exist.”
Their Local Running Community: “We have miles and miles of amazing trails in our backyard and love that our community utilizes them to their full potential. The environment encourages our local running community to be incredibly versatile. We regularly have people training for trail 100 miler races, building up to their first 5K, using hiking as a cross training for ski season, working out in the gym, athletes coming back from a knee replacement and in town on vacation looking for a slip-on shoe to look great and feel super comfortable as they explore all Bend has to offer. While the runners in town are who many of our passions align with, we are equally happy to serve the larger community and live the motto ‘Not a runner, not a problem.’ It’s inspiring to see so many different bodies on different fitness journeys.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Our team is passionate about being the best versions of themselves for the benefit of our community. This award serves as a tremendous metric and pat on the back as an acknowledgement of the extra thought and care they’re putting into each interaction. It’s a validation of their relentless pursuit of keeping our customers moving forward.”
Six locations in Michigan, with a seventh coming soon: Grand Rapids (two), Kalamazoo, Holland, Northville, Birmingham, Grandville (coming soon)
Key Personnel: Jen Brummitt, CEO; Angie Conflitti, Director of Merchandising; Cara Cross, Director of Brand; John Korreck, Director of Warehouse Operations; Thomas Kessel, Director of Technology; Christian Renoux, Director of Sales and Operations. Regional Store Managers: Joe Trupp, Alyssa Davison, Aleksandra Dalton
History: Gazelle Sports opened its first store in Kalamazoo, MI, in 1985, with the goal of not only being a store to get running gear, but also a place to find inspiration, expert advice, encouragement and support. Today, six (soon to be seven) locations later, the company continues to grow and remains dedicated to its original dream of making a difference in the lives of its customers and communities.
In Their Words: “We are known for our exceptional and genuine care, extensive product knowledge, authentic and expert advice, personalized shoe fittings and undying support. But what truly sets us apart is our firm belief that movement can change your life — and our passion is therefore in helping people move. We also recognize and are intentional about prioritizing equity and access both for our customers and our team members. We are actively and intentionally engaged in DE&I work and apply that lens in our strategic decision-making.”
What the Award Means to Them: “We are very humbled by this award and are grateful to be able to share it with a team who wholeheartedly believes in what we’re trying to build — a team that cares deeply about our customers, our communities and each other. This award inspires us all to ‘keep moving’ as we like to say — keep working toward not only being a different kind of running store, but also making a difference.”
GEORGIA GAME CHANGERS RUNNING COMPANY
Richmond Hill, GA
Key Personnel: John Cameron, Owner; Susie and Patrick Lane (sister and brother-in-law), Co-owners; Zach Fitzgerald, Store Director; Kevin Hancock, Assistant Store Director
History: The business was founded in 2012.
In Their Words: “We are a fit first shop — we won’t sell it if it is not right for our guests. We meet at local restaurants and pubs and run out-and-backs from there, lifting up other businesses through the sport. With strong ownership interests and synergies in the local bike shop and the largest triathlon team in the area, we capture the multisport opportunity in a broader scope. In November we hosted the Endurance Forum, which covers many aspects in ultra and running, triathlon, injury prevention, fueling for sport and mental strategies to prepare athletes for 2023 racing.”
What the Award Means to Them: This award is validation that our mission of improving comfort, performance and fun for our guest is working. We humbly wake up every day trying to improve ourselves and our guest experience, and we believe that will continue to reward us for years to come.”
Key Personnel: Karen Roberts, Owner; Andrea Blackmore, Store Manager; Mo Glaso, Operations Manager; Ashli Melten, Accessories Buyer; Hailey Garcia, Apparel Buyer; Derek Johnson, Outreach Coordinator
History: Get Fit opened in 2009 and operates one store in Amarillo.
In Their Words: “I think our store is unique in that we are the only specialty running store in Amarillo and we have established a loyal customer base that turns to us for all of their footwear needs, training advice and quality apparel. On race day, Get Fit is a fun place to hang out with like-minded runners, drink a beer and listen to live music. We pride ourselves on giving back to our community through sponsoring youth running clubs, donating shoes and socks to folks in need and hosting events that raise funds for local organizations.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Our team is truly honored to receive this award because it understands the high standards we must meet to receive this honor. It is also a reflection of how we give back to our community and how that community appreciates our efforts to help make Amarillo a healthier place to live.”
Key Personnel: Phillip and Pamela Howe, Owners; Marc Cameron, General Manager
History: The original store was founded in February 2019 in Hinesville, GA, but little more than three weeks in it was destroyed by a fire. The current location opened in Savannah, GA, in August 2019, and the business just celebrated its third “Runniversary” surrounded by the amazing running community that help the business rebuild and grow.
IIn Their Words: “We are a locally owned true run specialty store. We put every customer through an extensive fit process whether they are a walker, walk/runner, runner or need something for the gym. We do not push any brands, we do not upsell our community and there is a treadmill on-site for use during fittings. We also have a state-of-the-art gait analysis system that we can use for more in-depth fittings and to recognize issues a person may be having while moving. We are locally owned and community grown and we have huge weekly run groups and we call ourselves a run family. During demo runs with brands, we have been known to have more than 100 people attend.”
What the Award Means to Them: “This award means a lot to our staff. We know that the Best Running Stores criteria is very extensive, especially during the secret shopper portion. We take great pride in our specialty fit process, so seeing our report card really made us proud. The award also means a lot because we are being recognized alongside other great stores and other great professionals within the running industry. And finally, it is especially gratifying to get this award in back-to-back years after rebuilding following the fire in our first year and dealing with the COVID pandemic in our second year.”
I RUN TEXAS
Three locations in San Antonio, TX
Key Personnel: Michele and Mitch Allen, Owners; Jessie Winnett, Director of Operations; Kelly Wetzel, Director of Retail; Tina Berry, Store Manager; Nita Cornelson, Store Manager
History: Michele and Mitch Allen love running and each other (not necessarily in that order). The two met on the running trails in Dallas and got married in 2003, surrounded by their running friends. In 2009 they moved to San Antonio, where they opened iRun Texas at the Stone Oak location. Each having some 40 years of running experience, they shared that knowledge and passion with their customers, while providing a place for runners to connect. There was a lot of love for just one store, so Michele and Mitch made room for more runners in their lives: They opened a second iRun location in 2012 and a third store in the Dominion area in 2015. When Michele and Mitch aren’t at one of their stores, they’re home, where they have 11-plus acres, and enjoy raising bees, goats, two dogs, a Longhorn and a donkey.
In Their Words: “iRun continues to grow and look for ways to expand our customer base into different parts of our large and spread-out city. We continue to expand our community involvement and our brand awareness. Retail is an ever-changing industry and our staff knows we need to offer our customers something they can’t get online. Our staff goes above and beyond to learn about upcoming technology and trends. We work hard to never bring in an item we wouldn’t want to use ourselves. Above all, iRun is inclusive to everyone – beginner runner to seasoned marathoner, recovering from an injury or just needing a comfortable walking shoe, high school athlete or weekend warrior; there’s a person to connect to and a story to be told when you come in and talk to our staff.
Their Local Running Community: “San Antonio is a big city, but very spread out. There are pockets of runners around the city and they tend to stay within that pocket. For this reason, we have focused our business on the northern corridor of SA and our locations are rather close together. Each location’s customer shops a little different and we have curated the stores based that locations customer base. We also try to be strategic and plan special events based on the customers at that location. Because the stores are close, we can rotate our training classes to each location. Our class members tend to be our best customers and therefore it is exciting to them to see new and different product as we rotate through the training schedule.”
What the Award Means to Them: “This award is a great gauge we can use to make sure we are doing the best we can to stay up to date in an ever-changing industry. To be given this award among so many other great stores really helps us keep moving forward and keep striving for a better store overall. It’s such an honor to be among so many other great businesses with great practices, new and exciting events, and to be able to share those practices with like-minded stores can only make us better as an industry!”
Key Personnel: Jeff Anderson, Owner; Hendrik Van Ruissen, Assistant Manager; Mary Sutton, Buyer
History: John Kelley won the Boston Marathon in 1957. He was a teacher and coach in the community and founded the store in 1978. John died in 2011 and Jeff Anderson purchased the store in 2014. Mystic has a rich running history. There is a statue of John Kelley and his dog, Brutus, in downtown Mystic and another outside of the store. John Kelley is remembered by all for his warmth and enthusiasm.
In Their Words: “KP’s staff members are committed to customer service — listening, interpreting and responding to the needs of our customers. Often, customers assume they need one thing, but really need another. Some have never been properly fitted for shoes. And since the majority of customers are not runners, they need education and support in finding comfort. We also invest heavily in our local and regional community. Each of our five annual races has a nonprofit beneficiary (Stonington Crew, Always Home, The Center for Healing Therapies, Girls on the Run). We host weekly running groups and use the store as a gathering place for book, mini-workshops on lifestyle, fitness, and health.”
Their Local Running Community: “For a sleepy little seaport town, it is not unusual to have former Boston Marathon winners and running legends show up to our fun runs or events. This past year that has included Amby Burfoot, Geoff Smith and Kathrine Switzer. As the store approaches its 45th year, the multi-generational commitment our customers have to the store and our appreciation for the running community helps us to look forward in supporting the development of young runners.”
What the Award Means to Them: “This award affirms the daily effort of the KP staff to treat each customer with respect and dignity. It is an indicator that we are doing our job in meeting the needs of a varied clientele, from those looking to increase their speed to those looking for solid footing, and everyone in between.”
LUCKY ROAD RUN SHOP
Four Locations in central Virginia: Fredericksburg, Midlothian and two stores in Richmond
Key Personnel: Jeff and Queen Desiree Van Horn, Owners; Blake Cornwell, Buyer. Managers: Levi Reese, Chris Badolato, Rachel King, Mark Tickner, Travis Vandehaar, Alexis Wilson
History: Lucky Road was founded in 2011 and opened for business in 2012. Lucky Road planned to open its fourth location November.
In Their Words: “Lucky Road is unique because of our people — not just our associates but also the people of our community. We’ve created an environment where our Lucky Road family is given the tools to succeed and made to be the star of their respective stores. We work at earning mutual trust with our Lucky Road family and our community. That mutual trust is why our managers and associates have been with us for years and why our clients are loyal.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Earning this award is a testament to the culture we’ve created. We take the time getting to know our clients, their activities, goals and injury history. Our focus is earning trust and developing a lifelong relationship. This award is a nice pat on the back for a job well done.”
MILL CITY RUNNING
Two locations in Minnesota: Minneapolis (Mill City Running) and Saint Paul (Saint City Running)
Key Personnel: Bekah Metzdorff and Jeff Metzdorff, Co-owners; Luke Windholz, Operations Manager; Chelsea Kipp, Director of Retail; Andrea Haus, Community and Marketing Manager; Sam Cusack, Buyer and Training Lead; Matt Wardaugh, Manager, Mill City Running; Max Larson, Manager, Saint City Running
History: Mill City Running opened in 2013 in Northeast Minneapolis, and expanded to a second store in Saint Paul in 2020. In 2014, the business started a Race Team focused on training for and competing in local and national races, and the group now counts 900 runners of all ability levels.
In Their Words: “Our store is unique due to the amount of ownership that our community members feel in the business. Whether it’s one of the members of our Race Team having a great race, or being named a Top Store, staff and customers alike beam with pride. The care and attention that our staff provides really shines through in the community’s investment in our business. Our group runs occur four to five days a week and the smallest run on the coldest winter day is still around 50 people. Most days, runs have 80 to 120 attendees. We’re not just a retail store — we’re a home base.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Each time we’ve been named a Best Running Store we find our customers and runners seem to take extra pride in being a part of our community. We like to remind them that we exist – and are successful – only because of their support. The impact of the award goes far beyond the four walls of the store. It’s a true source of pride for staff members as they work with customers new and old.”
NAPERVILLE RUNNING COMPANY
Four locations in Naperville, IL: NRC South, NRC North, NRC Wheaton, NRC Annex
Key Personnel: Kris Hartner, Owner; Nick Hird, Director of Operations; Kyle Brady, Director of Retail; Marisa Hird, Director of Culture and Marketing; Dan O’Keefe, General Manager. All also comprise the buying team.
History: The business was founded in 2000 in downtown Naperville. The second store, NRC South, opened in 2014, followed by NRC Wheaton in 2017, and the Annex in 2019.
In Their Words: “We hear customers everyday thank us, saying, ‘You don’t get customer service like this anymore.’ The connections we make with our customers are so special, it is what keeps people coming back. Our Annex also sets us apart — it’s an extension of the extraordinary staff and customer service we provide at all of our stores, but you can find all of last season’s best-sellers at discounted prices. We also have curated opportunities for pop-up shops, which has created even stronger partnerships, and retail and marketing opportunities for us and our vendors.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Our customers and our passion for helping others is what keeps us coming back every day. To be recognized by our community, which we so deeply care about, is truly the best compliment we can receive. Working retail is hard. The hours...the challenges...but I think we can all agree that the pros massively outweigh the cons. I recently had a new employee ask me, ‘Has there ever been a time where you didn’t want to come to work?’ and I confidently answered, ‘No way.’ Obviously, there are struggles. But in the bigger picture, how lucky am I to absolutely love what I do? Between my coworkers and this incredible running community, there is nowhere else I’d rather be — and I know my staff feels the same way!”
Five locations across Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia
Key Personnel: Chris Farley, President; Kathy Dalby, CEO; Kelly O’Cadiz, COO
History: Pacers Running started as a neighborhood running store in Old Town Alexandria, VA in 1991. Today, Pacers serves runners at its five DC-area retail stores, signature races and across the country online at runpacers.com.
In Their Words: “Driven by the mantra, ‘For Every Run,’ Pacers Running exists to help as many people as possible through running. Known for its innovation and leadership in the run specialty channel, Pacers continues to succeed and grow thanks to a commitment to help runners of every walk of life experience the joy and transformation of running.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Pacers Running is proud to be a multi-year recipient of the Best Running Stores award and thanks our employees for their commitment to our vision of helping as many people as possible through running.”
Five locations in the greater Philadelphia area: Center City, University City, Glen Mills, Manayunk and King of Prussia Mall
Key Personnel: Ross Martinson, Owner; Liz Pagonis, CMO. Buyers: Ryan Fenelly, Jenn Collins, Daryl Santiago. Regional Managers: Breandan Lyman, Michael Zabrodski. Store Manager and Assistant Managers: Tracy Davis; Sarah Tampio, Aaron Nixon, Jessica Frame, Declan Walkush
History: The first Philadelphia Runner store opened in 2004 and the business has since expanded to five shops in the greater Philadelphia area.
In Their Words: “The people make our store unique. The community is our starting line and finding ways to support and grow an active, healthy community is our focus. From our amazing team to our incredible community, our stores are built on the idea that working out can and should be fun. In addition to hosting group runs, training programs and community events, we bring together the best staff, brands, products and resources to provide the highest level of customer experience and service.”
What the Award Means to Them: “We always tell our staff and community that nothing we do would be possible without them. This award is a reflection of our team’s hard work and the support from our community, especially throughout the last few years. We are honored and thankful to be recognized along with so many wonderful stores.”
Key Personnel: Brian Jones, Tom Keenoy, Lindsey Mulder, Jake Crowe and Andy Marsh, Owners
History: Rooted in the Greater Lansing community, passionate runner and visionary Curt Munson purchased Playmakers in 1981. In 2002, the store moved to its current location in Okemos. Now celebrating 41 years in business, Playmakers continues to operate as a 30,000-square-foot, single-door store, employing nearly 100 staff members.
In Their Words: “Our owners, buyers and mangers consistently work floor shifts, which provides a unique opportunity that really cultivates our store culture. One team, with the customer as our priority. The space also provides us the opportunity to have all our inventory in one spot, allowing our e-commerce opportunities to expand while benefiting our local in-store customers with a wider selection of options. Our e-commerce success has allowed us to directly give back to our community. This year, we were able to give back to the Running Industry Diversity Coalition with a pledge of $25,000, along with donations to local organizations. Our event team has supported nearly 50 events that give back to our schools, local non-profits and other organizations.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Being among the top running stores in the country is truly an honor. This award is a reflection of our supportive and loyal staff, customers, event participants and community. People have always been at the root of what we do and now, more than ever, giving our customers an outstanding experience in-store and online is so important to us. We look forward to the opportunity to grow, learn, listen and evolve over the next year.”
POINT 2 RUNNING COMPANY
Two locations in Virginia: Newport News and Chesapeake
Key Personnel: Glen Moschler, Co-owner; Andrea Lehmkuhler, Co-owner and General Manager; Logan St. John, E-commerce Manager and Buyer. Store Managers: Ruthie Kreuzer (Newport News), Alex Koksal (Chesapeake)
History: Point 2 was founded in May 2011 in a little shop that used to be a Ritz camera store. This family-owned business (Glenn and Andrea are father and daughter) with deep roots in the community began to flourish and in the Fall of 2015 moved to a new, larger location. As the team grew, the business grew and so did the opportunity to serve a larger community. In the Summer of 2019, Point 2 opened a second location in Chesapeake.
In Their Words: “Our team is the most welcoming, kind-hearted and customer service-oriented crew around. They lead with the same encouragement and enthusiasm for the newbie runner, the seasoned walker or runner and everyone in between. In addition, we prioritize community involvement and give back to several local organizations year-round. We try to be a forward-thinking company — not remaining comfortable, but instead consistently looking for ways to improve to serve our customers and employees better.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Receiving this award is such an honor. We are thrilled to be chosen among so many other wonderful stores — and that combined with the support from our community to make this happen is a true honor.”
POTOMAC RIVER RUNNING
Nine locations: Arlington, VA; Burke, VA; Fairfax, VA; Leesburg, VA; Ashburn, VA; Reston, VA; South Riding, VA; Springfield, VA; Vienna, VA; Midlothian, VA
Key Personnel: Ray and Cathy Pugsley, Owners; Scott Raczko, COO; Annie Lutz, Director of Purchasing/Analytics
History: Potomac River Running was founded in 2003 with stores in Ashburn and Burke, VA. They now have 10 retail doors, nine in the Northern Virginia suburbs and a new Potomac River Run & Walk by Keira D’Amato location in Midlothian, a suburb of Richmond.
In Their Words: “We try to focus on innovation and always staying ahead of the curve on customer experience and solutions we can provide — we frequently try to reinvent some part of our business. In addition, since 2003 we’ve been focused on grassroots. We try to operate big, but remain small and personal with our service and dedication to our local community. For example, we host over 100 high school team nights each year, lead coaches’ meetings, get high school runners involved through an Ambassador program, organize and time high school races and offer vouchers to each school to help support financially needy athletes in a discreet way. We are deeply rooted in the local community and aim to remain that way even as we grow.”
Their Local Running Community: “PRR’s community is transient and diverse. As a DC suburb, we see both challenge and opportunity from the population tied to the federal government — people move in/out frequently with election cycles, there is a large international population and a large military population. They remain fortunate to have the opportunity to embrace diversity and constantly reach out to new customers, but it is hard to achieve the “customer for life” constancy that we see in other geographies.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Our staff family work hard. This year has been especially challenging with supply chain shortages and staff shortages. So many have stepped up and taken one for the team, literally, to make sure we kept the lights on. While we know they would have done it without an award, this award validates the effort and gives our team welcome recognition beyond what we can do internally.”
Five stores in the Pittsburgh, PA, area that encompass three run shops, a fourth run shop that opened in October, and one bike-only shop. The run shops are located in: Allison Park, Monroeville, Robinson Township, and Pittsburgh.
Key Personnel: Craig Cozza, Owner, Founder and CEO; Jordan Cherry, General Manager; Becky Johnson, Buyer/Inventory Manager. Run Managers: Edna Spang, Allison Park; Susie Albert, Monroeville; Chris Cain, Robinson Township
History: In 2008, Craig Cozza, a local real estate developer and entrepreneur, took over the faltering Pittsburgh Pro Bikes to continue its legacy of serving the city’s regional cycling community. Cozza and his team members continue the community focus the company was founded on by supporting and funding many cycling, running and walking charitable initiatives. Pro Bike+Run has strived to run, organize, and participate in 180-plus community-driven and charitable events every year. Since purchasing Elite Runners and Walkers in 2016 after franchising with them since 2011, the business has been able to bring a more well-rounded and robust approach to outfitting and providing for its community by adding the running and walking components.
In Their Words: “Our shops are unique because we offer an entire experience to our customers. We want everyone who comes into our stores to feel like they received the best possible service and believe that we are their go-to for running and fitness needs. Our staff all have varying years of experience in running and are well-equipped to help every runner from beginner to expert. Our shops include top-of-the-line shoe fit and gait analysis technology, including the Aetrex Albert Pro, and only the best possible shoe options from top brands. Our North Park shop includes a cafe and clubhouse area within the same building that offers the perfect spot for runners to meet before and after their runs. We offer quarterly events in our shops to connect more with our customers, provide helpful advice, help people find the best products and help the running community come together. These events include ladies’ nights, customer appreciation parties, group runs and Good Form Running presentations. Our newest location in the Strip District houses a restaurant and 390-person event space.”
What the Award Means to Them: “This award is important to our staff because it is a reflection of what we do for our community. We want to be a place for runners of all levels, providing services and products that set us apart from an online or big-box experience. Everyone that works in our shops knows how our customers feel, have been beginners, have been customers, have received similar services throughout their running careers and want to meet our customers where they are in their fitness journeys. This award is an honor to receive, but it is also encouragement to continue working hard and providing the best possible service and experience for the running community.”
RED COYOTE RUNNING AND FITNESS
Two locations in Oklahoma: Oklahoma City and Edmond
Key Personnel: Burke and Jon Beck, Founders and Co-owners; Josh Lacam, General Manager; John Oseland, Director of Operations; Luis Chavez, Footwear PLM and Store Manager; Jenni Broad, Accessories PLM and Store Manager; Marci Stiles, Store Manager
History: Red Coyote was founded in 2010 by Burke and Jon Beck and is named after their 17-year-old dog, Pancho, who is part Coyote. In 2017, a second location opened in Edmond, OK.
In Their Words: “Red Coyote was founded to be a life-changing brand for our community. Its vision is to inspire people in our community to move, connect and be healthy. There are 15 people in the Red Coyote community that have a Red Coyote tattoo! Red Coyote is honored to play such an immense part in their lives.”
What the Award Means to Them: “This award is the product of our team’s dedication to our community and their craft. Our team could just sell the next pair of shoes and go home, but they often arrive early, stay late and work extra hours to serve the Red Coyote community. They are truly changing people’s lives and this award is their recognition for their commitment.”
RUN HUB NORTHWEST
Key Personnel: Dustin Pearce, Owner/General Manager; Kris Pearce, Owner/Accounting; Lauren Moe, Operations Manager; Marcie Gale, Apparel Line Manager/Merchandiser; Jack Matherly, Footwear Line Manager; Lillie Schrock-Clevenger, Store Manager
History: Run Hub Northwest opened in May, 2015 on Eugene Marathon weekend and the single store is located in downtown Eugene.
In Their Words: “We operate in what many consider to be the Running Mecca of the U.S., which adds a lot of fun and excitement to what we do. Outside of operating a running store in Tracktown, U.S.A., we are unique because of the breadth of activities we offer and the high engagement of our customers for a relatively small store.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Each year the Best Running Stores provides an opportunity for us to check in with our customers and find out how we are doing. It’s a barometer of sorts. BRS gives us something to rally around, a chance for our staff to revisit our in-store customer experience and make sure we are offering a best-in-class experience. While there are always areas to improve, this award lets us know that we are on good trajectory and doing many of the right things to be successful in this industry. It’s also nice to be evaluated in way that lets us compete against stores of all sizes and ages all across the country.”
RUNNERS EDGE NY
Two locations in NY: Farmingdale and Huntington
Key Personnel: Bob and Sue Cook, Owners; Allison Cook Galante, Apparel/Accessories Buyer/Social Media Marketing Manager; Paul Curtis, Store Manager of Farmingdale/Shoe Buyer; Griselle Delgado, Store Manager of Huntington/Shoe Buyer; Gary Paperno and Nancy Cattabiani, employees for more than 35 years
History: The first location opened in 1985 in the heart of Farmingdale Village in New York. In April 2021, a second store was opened in Huntington. When the owner started, he was doing anything he could to grow the business, including working by himself in the store for four months and selling shoes out of his truck at races. Since then, Runners Edge NY has worked diligently by advertising at events, handing out flyers and introducing the business and its services at races, track meets and gyms. The company has also created a website and added adding technology to the fit process.
In Their Words: “We have been in business for 37 years and opened a new location last year. Opening a successful second store in a pandemic was no easy feat, but we are very grateful that we were able to financially find a way and everything lined up perfectly in order to do so. Our store is independently owned and our owner still comes in five days a week and remains actively involved. We have a very special family feel to our store and we hope that we can keep that feeling for years to come. We offer informational clinics, discount coupons, gift cards and donate prizes to support local races. We also partner with local triathlons and special event runs, attend wellness fairs and work closely with local physical therapists, podiatrists and chiropractors. Our Runner’s Edge Running and Triathlon Teams consist of 150-plus athletes.”
What the Award Means to Them: “We are super excited to be receiving this because we have strived to be the best we can be since 1985. Customer service is our priority and our goal with every single customer is to make sure they have a great experience. We have been an integral part of the running community on Long Island since 1985 and have been making a difference in our customers’ and teammates’ lives. Winning this award feels like we have been training and running countless miles and are finally receiving our own medal at a very special finish line.”
Two Virginia locations: Virginia Beach and Norfolk
Key Personnel: Mike and Pam Robinson, Owners; Mark Manny, Beach Shop Manager; John Lomogda, Norfolk Shop Manager; Shannon Ralston, Apparel and Merchandising Manager; Emily Spencer, Website and Product Manager; Andrew Hoffer, Product Manager; Carol Dalton, Nutrition Manager
History: Running Etc. in Norfolk was founded in 1986 by Mike Robinson. In 1996 Norfolk Running Etc. moved to its current 4000-square-foot location. A second store located in Virginia Beach opened in 2004 and six years later it moved to a bigger, 5000-square-foot space situated just 150 meters from the original shop. The space includes a 600-square-foot community room that will allow Running Etc. to host more lectures, clinics and running-oriented events.
In Their Words: “We take pride in our knowledge, product selection and service, but the identity and soul of our store is rooted in our community. The relationships we’ve built with our customers, coaches, race organizers, physicians and brand partners truly set us apart. Our one-on-one customer service is top-notch due to our caring and compassionate team. Since 1986, we have grown with the industry, but also within our community. We can attribute our continued growth in our 36 years of business to the passion from our team and their involvement in the community. We are always finding new ways to improve what we do within our store and allowing room for change and improvement at all levels of our business. The demands of retail have evolved over the years, but our responsibility to providing our customers with a personal and memorable level of service and expertise has remained the same. Our goal as a running store is to greet every person that crosses our path with love, care and compassion. This dedication and commitment to our running community allows us to help people at so many levels, and that is the most satisfying part of our business: sharing our knowledge to help others.”
What the Award Means to Them: “This recognition affirms that we’re operating our business in a way that resonates with our community and our industry. Since 1986, we’ve helped individuals pursue and achieve their goals, whether it be in athletics or life. It’s not just about the items we sell, but our knowledge and experience as they relate to these pursuits. We are thrilled to receive this reward for our team because they give 100 percent to everyone they meet and this is wonderful way to show them their dedication and caring ways have paid off. It is the community that surrounds us that has given us this recognition with their votes. This award renews that sense of our connection to our community, and our commitment to serve as we have all these years.”
Key Personnel: Ken Larscheid, Founder and Owner; Toni Reese, Owner; Jen Crutchfield, Manager
History: Running Lab was founded in downtown Brighton, MI, in 2011 with a mission of inspiring others to move with an expert-driven fit process that provides our community with the best all-round customer service.
In Their Words: “Our people make our store truly unique. Our compassionate staff gives 100 percent of themselves to our customers. Our inclusive community has supported us from the beginning, whether they participate in our weekly group walk/run, shop in our store or recommend us to their friends and family. Our people include our brands that we are proud to represent in our store and we hope that our community discovers a new brand during their visit to make their experience truly special.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Being a Best Running Store means that Running Lab is a retailer that our community trusts. This award validates our staff’s passion for serving our customers. It lifts our robust culture and motivates our team to continue to give back to our people. Running Lab cannot thank our brands, staff and community enough for nominating us and being loyal to our store.”
Saint Louis, MO
Key Personnel: Bob Dyer and Jennifer Henderson, Co-owners
History: Running Niche opened in May, 2018 in the heart of the City of St. Louis, centrally located and close to hospitals, universities and parks. In March, 2022, due to growth, the store moved to its new location with twice the space.
In Their Words: “Being in a part of St. Louis that does not have much retail, we’ve built a loyal running community through group runs, coaching and race support that fills a need in our neighborhood and draws people in from surrounding areas who might not normally spend much time in the city. When someone comes to our store, we spend time getting to know them and their needs. Our knowledge of products, fitting, Lydiard training, a great place to run or get a beer and a burger makes our store a fun, informative running home for locals and visitors alike. We’re quite proud of our team whose passion for running, helping people, problem solving and fitting ensure a positive experience for our customers.”
What the Award Means to Them: “It’s very flattering to earn this award along with so many great running stores. It reminds us we are doing meaningful work to help people improve their health and wellbeing through running and walking. It also affirms and reinforces that we are building our community and business in a positive way and that the coaching we do makes a difference. In short, it tells us to ‘keep doing what we are doing.’”
Key Personnel: Will Rivera, Owner and Founder
History: Will Rivera, along with his wife, Madeline, and sons Jonathan and Jiovanni, are at the heart of this family-owned and -operated business. Will Rivera founded the shop in 2013 after retiring from a 25-year military career.
In Their Words: “Running Soles is unique in many ways. It brings people together and has contributed to the community in different ways. There’s a sense of pride in being part of a community and providing quality products and service. We believe movement can transform your life in celebrating health and fitness goals and in empowering others to be active. Moving together creates healthier, happier communities and gives back to the community we call home. Running Soles is a place for everyone.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Receiving this award means so much. We thank our supporters throughout this entire journey. We have worked very hard over the years to establish our business. We are so honored to have been nominated, chosen and recognized as one of the Best Running Stores. With this award, we now have the obligation to continue with a higher profile and take pride in what we do, which is to continue to provide quality service and products to our customers.”
RUNNINGCO. OF SOUTH JERSEY
Four locations in NJ: Haddonfield, Medford, Moorestown, Mullica Hill
Key Personnel: Dave Welsh, Founder; TJ Bruzek, General Manager
History: Haddonfield Running Company opened in March, 1997 when Walsh was in college at Lehigh. Then, in 2005 while working at New Balance as a footwear engineer and living in Boston, he was approached about buying the store, so he decided to roll the dice to get back to South Jersey. For the first year, he lived in the back of the store, and then with Bruzek for another year until they opened the Mullica Hill location. From there, the pair opened Moorestown, moved the Haddonfield store to a bigger location and eventually added the Medford location. The company’s name was later changed to RunningCo. to match the website. Today, the business is a four-store family known as the RunningCo. of South Jersey.
In Their Words: “We truly operate as one store —we share everything from employees to inventory to our sense of community.”
What the Award Means to Them: “All the running stores in this area deserve this award — no need to single stores out. Philly Mafia (what the group of stores that makes up the Philly area goes by) are all great stores. No need to give just us an award!”
Key Personnel: Pete Vaughn and John Carr, Co-owners; Hazel Richardson, General Manager
History: Founded in May, 2003, by Don and Denise Piercy. Pete Vaughn has been with the company since 2010 and John Carr since 2019. Both started as part-time employees. With one brick-and-mortar location, the business also has an event management company (Running Zone Race Management) and a non-profit foundation that produces running and walking events called the Running Zone Foundation.
In Their Words: “As a team, we set a very high customer service bar for ourselves and work to maintain that every single day. As owners, we want to create the best possible work environment for our team members.”
Their Local Running Community: “Our community is very age-diverse and we see a lot of different people at all the races and group runs. A typical 5K race in our area has a few finishers in the 17-18 minute range, but also several in the hour-plus range. The positive atmosphere is the same for both of those groups, which makes it a special event. Most people in our area are “transplants” (not originally from Florida) so we see all different backgrounds and experiences.
What the Award Means to Them: “This award means a lot — as a store we have won the award many times, but this is our first year as owners so it is very exciting but from a new perspective.”
Key Personnel: Jen Schaller, Founder; Don “Yak” Yakstis, Supervisor; Sandy Holmes, Supervisor
History: Schaller, an avid runner and triathlete, founded the store in 2013 after 14 years as a CPA in corporate tax drove her to off-ramp her high-pressure accounting career and open a small business centered around something she loved: running! RunWell operates one store in the heart of the Edwardsville community, right at the hub for the MCT Trail network, which spans more than 100 miles of multi-use paved trails.
In Their Words: “Our mission is to keep our community connected, motivated and celebrated. We have several fun, free community events and we look at our store as a community center for active people. We launched the Where Do You RunWell mobile phone app where runners can upload photos before, during or after a run, pin the map and tell us where they RunWell around the world. They can compete in challenges, earn rewards, win prizes, invite their friends, find their next event or shop with us. We have weekly group runs, themed run, trail runs, ladies-only runs and more, and we have a coaching company that has trained hundreds of runners. We also have a blog, newsletter, VIP program, racing team, 1000 Mile Challenge, Mighty Cubs running camp for kids and more.”
What the Award Means to Them: “This award makes me feel like our store is legitimate. For many years, I felt like I was trying to hold my house of cards together with duct tape and bubble gum. I was so focused on the future and what we were going to do next that I forgot to take a moment and realize that we are still here. We came out of a worldwide pandemic intact. This award helped me realize that what we are doing is special and important. We all feel it in the store and our community, but it is amazing that the running industry sees us. We’re just one little store in the middle of the country, trying to make a difference. Yak says that being voted one of the top running stores in the nation means we are a positive force to help and support our customers, community, and our sport.”
RUSH RUNNING COMPANY
Two locations: Bentonville and Fayetteville, AR
Key Personnel: Mike and Alison Rush, Owners; James Reeves, General Manager; Keri Letson, Apparel Buyer. Floor Managers: Mac May, Myra Tubb, Hayden Kingfisher
History: Both Mike and Alison Rush ran for the University of Arkansas and in 2008 they decided to open a shop that could serve their community. Their love of running goes so deep that they named their two boys Miles and Trail. The business supports more than 50 charity races every year, including the Chile Pepper Festival.
In Their Words: “Selling shoes is a very small part of what Rush Running does. Training, coaching, advising and motivating anyone in the surrounding community to run is what keeps a smile on our face. We’re genuinely excited to hear how your first 5K went when we see you at the track for Monday night speed work. We’re also fist bumping you at the finish line of your first ultramarathon. This shop has consistently made running accessible to everyone in Northwest Arkansas and serves as its center of running culture.”
What the Award Means to Them: “I take pride knowing that I can be a part of a store that does so much for the community I live in. It’s amazing what Mike and Allie have done here in Northwest Arkansas and it makes me happy to see them get this award year after year.”
SALT LAKE RUNNING COMPANY
Five locations in the Salt Lake Area of Utah: Salt Lake City (two stores), Draper, Sandy, Centerville
Key Personnel: Guy and Debbie Perry, Owners
History: The business started with one store in 1995 when Guy and Debbie Perry were 24-years old. Two more locations were added in 2006 and 2007, followed by the acquisition of the two existing locations of Wasatch Running in 2022.
In Their Words: “SLRC stays strongly committed to staff training, providing consistently excellent customer service and promoting a movement-inspired lifestyle. We love to connect with our community in different ways through race events, seminars, clinics and vendor-led events. A unique way we connect is through art. The flagship store has a large Utah-themed, movement-inspired mural on the side of the building as well as three Utah scenic panoramas inside the store. We have also done mural runs to see and support new murals going up in the South Salt Lake area. Art moves the soul in similar ways that exercise does, so it’s fun to acknowledge and experience both at the same time.”
What the Award Means to Them: “The award is meaningful to our staff because it represents the hard work that is put in by all departments in order to provide a great, consistent customer experience and connection to our community.”
SKINNY RAVEN SPORTS
Two locations in Anchorage, AK
Key Personnel: Daniel Greenhalgh, Owner; Aimee Chauvot, General Manager. Buyers/Managers: Tasha Heikkila-Adam, John Clark, Cyndi Kramer, Brooke Smith
History: Skinny Raven was founded in 1994 and operates two locations in Anchorage.
In Their Words: “What makes Skinny Raven unique? It would have to be the people. So many unique individuals that are invited and encouraged to bring their full selves to work every day. It’s a hobby and a job.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Receiving this award is such an honor for our team as it allows us to celebrate with our industry peers and validates the great work this team puts forth with every customer, every day.”
ST. PETE RUNNING COMPANY
St. Petersburg, FL
Key Personnel: Cody and Janna Angell, Owners
History: After years of working in run specialty in America and Australia, the husband-and-wife team of Cody and Janna Angell opened their “dream store” in St. Petersburg in 2014. Since then, the shop has grown to be a staple in town and the go-to place for everything running.
In Their Words: “We really are a thriving community based around a running store. There are so many events, seminars and workouts that people can attend. People come by the store just to hang out. Also, despite challenges hiring, we are blessed with a great and ambitious staff that really loves what they do. Everyone believes we’re making our corner of the world healthier.”
What the Award Means to Them: “We appreciate the award because it helps to validate that what we’re doing is important and it’s noticed. Retailing certainly isn’t easy, so getting awards like this are a nice way to keep our team inspired.”
TERRA RUNNING COMPANY
Key Personnel: Brittany Katz, Owner and Operator; Tiffany Skinner, Manager of Marketing and Engagement. Sales: Asher Johnson, Brennan Humphreys, Olivia McClain
History: Terra Running Company was founded in 2016 in Cleveland, TN, and is the only run specialty store in the area. The store hosts a free weekly group run, the Terra Trot, and works with more than 30 local nonprofits and other organizations to help time and manage their events using Chronotrack timing equipment. The store puts on the Cleveland Half Marathon & 5K, the Cleveland Thanksgiving Day 5K, and the Summer Sizzler Race Series. Katz and Skinner host the weekly Facebook/YouTube show called Terra Girls, as well as a podcast by the same name. In 2022, Katz won the Cleveland Small Business Person of the Year Award.
In Their Words: “With just one door, Terra Running Company has made a huge impact on our community. We are located in our historic downtown and have made downtown Cleveland a destination for starting and ending your run. Our store is connected to Cleveland Coffee & Market, a coffee shop and local gift shop in the same historic downtown building and under the same ownership as Terra Running Company. The coffee shop/running store combo makes a ‘specialty’ store like ours more accessible and approachable. We host combined events, have free lockers in the coffee shop for runners to leave their valuables while running, and share a customer base.”
What the Award Means to Them: “We are a small team of two full-time and three part-time employees. This award is very meaningful to our small but hardworking and dedicated staff. From producing races, to fitting customers for shoes, to buying, bill-pay and organizing events, the five of us do it all and we are proud to be able to bring this level of service to our customers.
THE RUNNER’S EDGE
Key Personnel: Anders Booker, Co-owner; Meg Booker, Co-owner and Footwear Buyer; Erin Forde, General Manager and Accessories Buyer; Sarah Knutson, Team Manager; Colleen Smith, Apparel Buyer; JR Thomas, Community Outreach and e-commerce; Jeff Mogavero, Social Media; Kristie Ruttenbur, Team Lead
History: Anders Brooker founded The Runner’s Edge in 2001. The single store is located in Western Montana and serves the surrounding community.
In Their Words: “The Runner’s Edge hashtag is #morethanrun. We truly believe this and hope each customer who comes through our door feels the same. We are also involved in our community, giving over $25,000 a year to various local nonprofits and helping with community events.”
What the Award Means to Them: “We hope to never grow stagnant in our business and receiving this award helps reinforce this. We always strive to be better, whether it be in customer service, selling different and unique products or delivering shoes two hours away. We truly want to serve our customers and always go above and beyond to do this.”
THE RUNNERS FORUM
Six locations in Indianapolis, IN: Carmel, Fishers, Avon, Greenwood, Broad Ripple and Zionsville
Key Personnel: Tom BonDurant and Michael Smith, Co-owners
History: The Runners Forum opened in 1978 as Indiana’s original running and walking specialty store. It remained a single-store operation until 2008, when the downtown location opened, and five additional stores were added in 2012-2014. The business remained entirely brick-and-mortar until March 2020, and worked diligently to roll out its e-commerce store while the physical stores were closed at the beginning of the COVID pandemic.
In Their Words: “We put people first. Since 1978, care for our team members and customers has been the foundation of our service and success.”
What the Award Means to Them: “Being nominated and selected as a top running store is especially meaningful to our team members. It validates the hard work and passion that we put into serving every customer and provides recognition of the dedication that each member of our team has contributed since 1978. Being recognized as one of the best in our industry is that pat on the back we all look for, at a time when our industry is facing the greatest competitive pressures for our customers’ continued patronage.”
THE RUNNING WELL STORE
Three locations in the Kansas City, KS, metro area: Kansas City, Mission and Lee’s Summit
Key Personnel: Kathy Gates, Owner
History: Bob Lafferty founded The Running Well Store in 2006 with the idea that getting in the right shoe could help people achieve their goals from running, walking or working an eight-hour-plus shift without pain. In 2012 Kathy Gates took over as manager and then purchased the store in 2013. Since then, the business has expanded to three locations across the Kansas City Metro area.
In Their Words: “The Running Well Store is unique because of our staff. We have a team of people who genuinely care about their customers, are passionate about the sport and love learning about the latest and greatest in footwear and injury prevention.”
What the Award Means to Them: “The team is incredibly motivated and proud to have won a Best Running Stores award.”
THE ULTRA RUNNING COMPANY
Key Personnel: Nathan Leehman and Courtenay Buchan, Owners; Amy Stone, Operations Manager; Jonathan Faryadi, Sales Manager; Natalie Daniel, Online Manager; Dave Griffin, Community Manager
History: The Ultra Running Company was founded in 2013 to deliver scientifically supported products and information to the running and leisure community. Its focus is to provide dedicated support of both road and trail running as well as walking.
In Their Words: “URC provides an inclusive, science-based view of running to our customers and community, and we are constantly pushing the envelope in any way we can to provide true value to our customers. We focus on techniques, products and initiatives in line with this approach and have structured our in-store and online experiences to reflect these beliefs. Our staff is made up entirely of active runners who focus on the health and wellbeing of our customers over individual accolades. We actively recruit and champion partner brands who share our philosophy. We spend as much time as needed with every customer, focusing on happiness and satisfaction above upselling.”
What the Award Means to Them: “We have always believed The Ultra Running Company to be among the best running stores in the country and this award serves as grateful confirmation that our fantastic team of advocates can deliver a unique in-store approach, keep the ‘special’ in specialty running and still gain the respect of the established retail community. As an independent retailer in a crowded market, we are especially pleased that amazing service, an open and honest approach to running and a relentless focus on our customers can continue to differentiate and provide value in Charlotte and across the country.”
TORTOISE AND HARE SPORTS
Key Personnel: Nathan and Rebecca Hohenstein, Owners; Christine Pederson, General Manager; Jesse Hicks, Floor Manager and Apparel Buyer; Josie Vasquez, Floor Manager/Run Coordinator; Des Clarke, Floor Manager
History: Tortoise and Hare was founded in 2012 and operates one location.
In Their Words: “Our culture and values guide us to continue to serve our community in meaningful ways. We’ve always focused on a great experience both in-store and with our events and running programs.”
What the Award Means to Them: “This award stands as a testament to the hard work and dedication our team shows to our community on a daily basis. This means a lot to our team and is something we feel we continue to earn throughout the year.”
UP AND RUNNING
Two locations in Ohio: Dayton and Troy
Key Personnel: Susie Stein, Owner; Nickie Luse, Apparel Buyer; Maria Mills, HR; Alexis Kinney, Accessory Buyer; Angela Jordan, Inventory Specialist. Store Managers: Laurie Spiewak, Teri Iverson
History: Owner Susie Stein founded Up and Running in Dayton in 2005 as a women’s-only store where everyone, every pace and every ability would feel welcomed. She quickly expanded to men’s and kids’ shoes as families asked for more. In 2011, Up and Running in Dayton opened a second store in Troy, OH.
In Their Words: “We are one of the very few solely owned women’s businesses in our industry. Our staff is unique in backgrounds and ages and we pride ourselves in mentoring our college employees and offering a place for our awesome retired employees that are looking for a fun job. Together, our team shares a love for exercise, helping our customers and being involved in making our Dayton, OH, community a better place to live.”
What the Award Means to Them: “We are honored that our customers and community find value in our philosophy and our expertise. We pride ourselves in our custom fit process and personalized experience that we offer every individual that visits Up and Running. The acknowledgement of our hard work by our community is always appreciated and continues to keep us striving to be the very best.”
XTRA MILE RUNNING
Key Personnel: Christopher Schiel, Owner; Christina Schiel, Marketing; Kennon Moy, Lead Sales Associate; Sophia Schiel, Chief Happiness Officer; Michael Schiel, QA Officer
History: Xtra Mile Running opened its doors at its one and only location in April 2018. The ongoing mission is to grow deep roots in the community through constant involvement. The store coaches 75 kids ages 8-12 every summer, new runners twice yearly and hosts two group runs and two yoga classes per week.
In Their Words: “The store is unique in that when I opened Xtra Mile Running, I was an industry outsider. I worked closely with the local running community, but had a background mostly in Education Management. As a result, we do many things a little differently here (and have learned a few things the hard way, too).”
What the Award Means to Them: “To earn this recognition for three consecutive years has been tremendous. This year, one of our high schoolers, Leah, was shopped during a busy Saturday when we had a packet pickup going on. We were all so proud of her having the composure to achieve excellence in her service. It’s also a point of pride for the staff that we maintain a strong culture where even on a busy day, we live and breathe the mission and we don’t stop until we know the customer is fully satisfied.”