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Naperville Running Company
Primary owner: Kris Hartner
Total space: 9,300 square feet (when a second store opens in 2014)
Located in a bustling western suburb of Chicago, Naperville is a running hotbed. Aside from top-tier high school cross country teams and one of the country’s best NCAA Division III programs, it has a robust community of citizen runners (from age-group champions to first-timers) and dozens of local races, including a marathon that debuted in November.
At the center of that running buzz is Naperville Running Company, a 5,500-square-foot specialty store built on the pillars of excellent customer service, sound advice from experienced runners of all levels and a comfortable, engaging shopping experience. One of the highlights of the brightly lit store is a two-lane inlaid rubber track around the shoe-fitting and accessories area.
“You’ve got to be able to handle the full range of the bell curve of our customers,” says owner Kris Hartner, whose store won Running Store of the Year honors in 2009. “There are a lot of people who aren’t hard-core runners or don’t even consider themselves runners at all who walk in our door looking for shoes and advice. Our goal is to have good one-on-one interaction with every customer. It’s not rocket science and there are no secrets. What it takes is really good people working for you, and that’s what we have.”
Did you know? Hartner, who has a degree in biomechanics, worked in various roles at Reebok and Adidas before opening Naperville Running Company in 2000.