Sunday, January 10, 2010

There's a new running store in town

When Davidson residents Kristin and Mark Harris got tired of driving into Charlotte to buy shoes from specialty running stores, they did what many entrepreneurial-minded hardcore runners have often dreamed of doing: The Harrises opened a running store of their own.

That store -- a Fleet Feet Sports franchise -- was quietly unveiled with a soft opening last Friday morning in Huntersville. (Kristin Harris says the official grand-opening date has yet to be determined.)

Fleet Feet Sports Huntersville (16620 Cranlyn Road, Suite 100) is tucked away next to haircolorxperts on the southeastern-most corner of Birkdale Village, about a block down from the movie theater and a stone's throw from Dick's Sporting Goods.

There are identical entrances, each flanked by two inviting-looking black rockers, at the front and rear of the space (which is considerably smaller than Run For Your Life-Dilworth but larger than RFYL-University, for comparison's sake). The look is clean and minimalist, with beautiful dark hardwood floors and very little clutter. Products by Brooks, Asics, Mizuno, Nike, Saucony, New Balance and more are displayed attractively along the walls, with just three tidy racks of clothing sharing the floor with the register/counter and a display featuring hats and Fleet Feet water bottles. There's also a treadmill for gait analysis, and a unisex restroom.

I recently caught up with Kristin Harris -- who has worked at a number of YMCAs in the Charlotte area and also has been a massage therapist -- to talk about the new Fleet Feet and what its got in store for the local running community.

Q. How'd opening day go?
Opening day went well! We didn't now what to expect but we actually had non-family member paying customers!

Q. I know Fleet Feet has a pretty good reputation, but as a newer runner, I've never set foot in one of its stores. I've seen the company's "Fitlosophy," but tell me in non-mission-statement-speak, if you will, what your store is all about.
Our store is about unparalleled customer service. Our goal is to treat every customer as an individual, no matter what their running, walking and fitness level is. This would include the evaluation of their footwear and apparel needs, advice and education. We want to enhance the fitness experience for each and every customer so that overall fitness and wellness becomes part of their every day lives.

Q. Aside from being a purveyor of shoes, apparel and accessories, how else will the store contribute to the area's running community?
We absolutely look forward to becoming an extension of the Lake Normal fitness community. We are planning on being involved with a number of races at various levels. Several Lake Norman running groups meet in the Birkdale area for their weekly runs and we look forward to partnering with them also. We are planning various "Fun Runs" starting up in the near future. Our first No Boundaries program, which is Fleet Feet's signature training program where we partner with New Balance to train participants for their first 5K, will start in the summer. Also, your readers may be interested to know that we are hosting the weekend Road Runners Club of America running coach certification workshop May 15-16. It will be held in Davidson at Community School of Davidson. Maybe one of your readers is intersted in becoming a coach! They can find more info at

Q. I've seen fittings done well and fittings done poorly, and I know building trust with customers hinges on how good staff is. I assume yours is full of runners, but what level of expertise are you demanding from employees?
Our employees come from various levels of running, which mirrors our anticipated customer base. While running experience certainly is an important prerequisite, being able to deliver the best customer service is equally important. Regarding the "FIT" process, understanding the biomechanics of the foot is a critical component in recommending the proper type of shoe to each individual. We will have extensive and ongoing training programs that educate employees about the biomechanics of the foot. We will also partner with our brand's reps to keep our employees up to date on the continuous changes that take place with their shoes.

Q. A lot of people in this area are already loyal to a particular running store. Do you see challenges in this regard, or do you think geography and "something new" play heavily to your advantage?
I do not see this as a challenge. The Lake Norman area is exploding with growth, and our plan is to build our own loyal customer base.

Q. How did opening this new franchise all come together for you guys? How did you go about choosing the location?
We recognized the need for a store in the Lake Norman area after years of having to travel to other stores in the Charlotte area to buy our shoes. My sister participated in a No Boundaries program at another Fleet Feet feet store, and we heard how great they were. Their philosophies and values on customer service, lifetime fitness, and community involvement matched ours, and one year later, here we are.

Fleet Feet Huntersville's regular store hours are: 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. Phone number is 704-896-2202.


Jonah said...

I just moved to Indian Land from Columbia, and frequented the Fleet Feet there. Always great people, and always helpful. I am sure Huntersville will be the same. Now if I can find someone to open one on this end of town.

Bill said...


Run For Your Life has a store at the Stonecrest shopping center on Rea Road. Try Sports has a store in the Blakeney shopping center.

Anonymous said...


Charlotte Running Company also has a store at the Promenade on Providence at Ballantyne Commons Rd. and Providence Rd. just off 485.

Anonymous said...

Went there today and got a pair of shoes, very nice people. Told the I heard of there place on this blog...