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50 Best Running Retailers in America—The Big 4

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published Nov. 18, 2010

Fleet Feet Sports, Syracuse

5800 Bridge Street | East Syracuse, NY | 315-446-1444 | fleetfeetsyracuse.com

Ed Griffin and his wife Ellen were never what you would call hardcore runners. Which is one of the reasons Ed feels they have been so successful with Fleet Feet Sports in Syracuse. “The key for us is that we weren’t competitive runners,” he says. “We came from a business background and were just recreational runners. I think that allowed us to be more inclusive and more in touch with the average person when we opened our store.”

With 35 employees and a 10,000-square-foot building that they purchased a year ago, Fleet Feet Sports is on a major roll. With a population base of less than a million, Ed, Ellen and their team feel it’s important to reach out to everyone in the community to enhance the growth of running. Local running clubs and charities, corporations and high school teams all look at Fleet Feet Sports as their go-to running and comfort shoe headquarters. They also work with a number of medical professionals to make sure their patients are well taken care of. “Our medical market is huge,” Griffin continues. “We work with the orthopedists, podiatrists and chiropractors, and every fall we host a clinic at the store to show the medical professionals what we do and how we can work together.” About 120 medical professionals attend each year and gather in the Fleet Feet Sports Community Room. Not surprisingly, that outreach has paid huge dividends. “We get 10-15 referrals from the medical community every day,” Griffin says.

The Griffins’ business background has suited them well. They have great marketing programs, great financial management and a major focus on staff development. “We also have made a conscious effort to grow our database,” says Griffin. “We’re up to about 16,000 people on our newsletter list, and we add about 3,000 new names per year. We send out a newsletter to the list every Monday, and we make sure the content in it is second to none.”

At the end of the day, Griffin doesn’t feel that they are in the running or retail business. “We’re in the business of helping people feel better about themselves,” he says.

“What I love,” says Griffin, “is to see that look in someone’s eyes after he has finished his first-ever 5K. That’s when I know I’m in the right business.”

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Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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