A family-owned shop in the Kentlands has been chosen as one of the best running stores in the country.
The Competitor Group, a media and entertainment company specializing in endurance sports, put Fleet Feet Gaithersburg on a 2012 list of the 50 best running stores. The company awards the distinction for customer service, training programs, local events and expertise. Ten Fleet Feet stores made the list.
Gaithersburg residents Chris and Robyn Gault opened Fleet Feet Gaithersburg in 2005. Both left careers of more than 20 years as CPAs in Washington, D.C., to pursue their passion.
“When we first met years ago, we started running together,” Chris Gault said.
He ran track and cross-country at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, while she picked up the hobby as a senior in college. When they married and started considering opening a shop, he said they took a chance and applied to the Fleet Feet franchise. Robyn said she wanted to emulate a Fleet Feet store in Washington’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, where she was a regular customer.
“That was my dream, to do something like that,” she said. Robyn Gault said they chose a spot in the Kentlands because it was a unique community, much like Adams Morgan.
Their first store was about 1,400 square feet, Chris Gault said, but after four years they moved to their current location at more than twice the size. He said they cater to running and fitness walking groups, and the store sells a lot of running shoes, moisture-wicking apparel and Under Armour brand products.
Robyn Gault said running stores’ customers have changed since she started running years ago.
“Our average customer is about a 40-year-old woman, but in the 1970s it would be a 17-year-old male,” she said. Running is “more approachable” for more people now, she said, as 10K runs have given way to a plethora of 5K runs. The store hosts weekly events for beginning runners and walkers to meet and exercise.
“Fleet Feet, as a whole, is about changing people’s lives,” she said.