One of these four shops will be revealed as the 2015 Running Store of the Year on Dec. 3 at the Running Event trade show in Austin, Texas, based on criteria that include best retail environment, shoe-fitting checkout process, community service and credit ratings from vendors.
Red Coyote Running and Fitness
Owners: Burke and Jon Beck
Only five years old, Red Coyote Running and Fitness makes it to the 50 Best list for the fifth time and to the final four a third time. The 5,500-square-foot store is bright, clean, well-merchandised and has hosted a wildly successful Newbie Running Program that has attracted hundreds of beginner 5K runners since its implementation. Its name was even inspired by the owners’ runner dog Pancho who resembles a red coyote. “Over a beer on our first date, Jon and I talked about how we would both love to own a running store someday,” says Burke Beck. In 2010, they moved back to Oklahoma City, Burke’s hometown, to open Red Coyote.
Owner: Genie Beaver
West Stride is Atlanta’s only woman-owned specialty running store that serves the running and athletic needs of both men and women. However, with Genie in charge, this store has helped support and grow Atlanta’s female runners by hosting women-specific shopping events and clinics, and primarily focusing their outreach to women, the northwest Atlanta community and youth involvement in running. “While there were and still are great stores in my area, I wanted one that was different,” Genie says about the idea behind West Stride. “One with an appreciation and understanding of competitive track and field, but also a store that is welcoming to all runners and walkers, particularly to women.”
Fleet Feet Rochester
Owners: Ellen Brenner and David “Boots” Boutillier
From an original 3,000-square-foot space to a new, modern 9,000-square-foot location, this store has grown up over the past 11 years. However, four months after opening, Ellen and David had to lay off all their staff and work Christmas week to make sure the business could survive. Due to their hard work and their attentive and reliable staff, they bounced back and have built a thriving store around a supportive, close-knit community of runners. “There is always something going on, whether it’s an in-store vendor event, group run, wear-test opportunity or fitness class,” Ellen says. “There is constant energy.”
A Snail’s Pace
Fountain Valley, Calif.
Owner: Eddie Johnson
Originally founded in 1979, this store actually started as a franchise of Loeshorn’s for Runners. It then moved to private ownership in the late 1980s and the name was changed to A Snail’s Pace with the flagship store in Fountain Valley. Heavily involved in the local running community, this store has an active run club, training programs from 5K to marathon distances, works with high school and college track and field and cross country coaches, and provides pacers for several large local races such as the Surf City USA Marathon, OC Marathon and Long Beach Marathon.