Fleet Feet of Menlo Park, A Runner’s Store for Runners, by Runners [Consumer]

by on December 14, 2011

in consumer

Bruce's Fleet Feet Ghost Run Participation PhotoAs a runner, you know a lot depends on your gear…  and I’m guessing non-runners are wondering exactly what gear a runner needs?  It’s complicated, once you get into the thick of it.  Like any sport, once you graduate beyond the casual or guilty holiday running, that good gear can make or break your day.

There’s actually a lot to running as far as gear is concerned.

First and foremost involves having shoes that fit you properly.  Someone with a keen eye towards your individual biomechanics is a good place to star.  These folks can be called the experts who know what to suggest to compliment your walking/running style.  If you have weak arches or ankles, or strong ankles… there are shoes designed for each kind of runner.

Then there’s proper garments, proper support gear if needed, and what not.

As a runner, jogger or what not, you’ll find out fast enough that not just any shoe will do.  And the wrong apparel could chafe you into a good, bloody mess.

Having the right people backing you from a good running store is incredibly important.  That’s where Fleet Feet of Menlo Park comes in.

When I first went in the store, they lined me up with new running shoes that complimented my personal technique. The staff had me walk across the store in my socks and saw how I walked.  They then chose a shoe that was designed to support my strengths and/or weaknesses in how I would run.

With the right shoes chosen for me, I cut an entire minute off my pace the very first time out… so yea, shoes do matter.

Through the months, Fleet Feet of Menlo Park has helped me get good running apparel, socks, running fuel, and guide me along my way to getting better at my pursuit of running.  They have, through their various resources and events they host, helped me become a runner, and through the process, I’ve felt like part of the family at the store.

Events they host are nothing but fun… from “pub” runs, to Halloween “ghost runs” to an upcoming “jingle jog” to check out Christmas lights around the neighborhood, they have a great time organizing fun local events for local runners.  But they don’t just have fun stuff, they also have serious training courses, based out of the store.  They have a Big Sur marathon class, half marathon, speed, Presidio 10k, trail running and 5k classes.  And they have them at different times of the year, geared for different events.  Like the Big Sur marathon class starts January 10th, then later in the year, a SF 1/2 marathon class starts May 1st.

Fleet Feet Menlo ParkThings like this help keep the store in the hearts and minds of many a runner around town and the region!

Jim and Lisa are the ones who own and run the store.

They’re personable, they meet you and remember details about you, and hold events like what I’ve mentioned, that make the place a fun place to hang out. (Now if I could only convince them to open a tea & juice bar inside the store!)  They also have a knack for hiring folks that are of a like mind and skill in addressing their customers needs.  It’s amazing to go in the store and no matter who helps you, whether it’s Jim or someone they hired, it feels like the same mind-set backing the person helping you.

They make the place feel like you can go hang out there after work!  (OK, I might have a few times or two sort of browsed through on my lunch hour!)

= = =

Jim and Lisa, Fleet Feet Menlo Park

But the store is more than just a store.  It’s the people behind the store, and that’s Jim and Lisa.

Jim & Lisa met around 20 years ago, and at of all places, a bike shop.  Jim had moved out to SF for the summer on a whim and had a weekend job at a bike store (Tam Junction in Mill Valley), and at that time, he was Lisa’s manager.  It took him a long time to ask her out because of his ethics about dating coworkers. (Yea, I can see that from Jim!)

The rest, as they say, is history, of which I am glad, had worked out in my favor or I would never know who would be helping me out with my running needs!

If you want to visit their website, it’s at www.fleetfeetmenlopark.  The store is located in downtown Menlo Park, at 859 Santa Cruz Ave.,  (650) 325-9432 is the store phone number.  (Here’s their Facebook Page)

Check out the business summary they shared with me about the store… there’s a nice bit of background in it and if you ever get the chance and want to check them out, I highly recommend this wonderful corner of running expertise.  I don’t think you can ever go wrong visiting them!:

Management Summary

Equity operator Jim Gothers worked as the general manager at the Runners High, the store’s previous incarnation, from 1998 to 2007, assisting then-owners Adam and Micheline Kemist at their two retail locations (the second was in Los Altos, in operation 1998 to 2007). In his tenure, both locations experienced extraordinary growth.

Jim left the retail end of the business in 2006 to become territory manager for Mizuno Running, a specialty running vendor with U.S. headquarters in Atlanta. As a sales rep in charge of northern California, he was able to see operations at a whole range of running stores from Sacramento to San Francisco to Santa Cruz to Bakersfield. It was through this experience that he made connections in the Fleet Feet world.

After SRDC Inc.—the development arm of Fleet Feet Inc.—purchased the remaining Menlo Park location of the Runners High from the Kemists, Fleet Feet directors approached Jim about returning to retail.

Lisa Taggart joined her husband at the store full-time in 2009. She worked previously as a senior travel writer at Sunset Magazine, based in Menlo Park, and as a marketing writer at Santa Clara University. She’s the author of a book about women athletes, Women Who Win, featuring top American distance runner Deena Kastor, and co-editor of two literary anthologies.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John December 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I love that store. Great service.

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