Run Flagstaff Ranked Among Nation’s Top Running Stores

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That’s the runner’s high that all the athletes who flock to Flagstaff are chasing.

Flagstaff has a growing reputation as an elite running community, so it should be no surprise it has one of the nation’s top running stores.

The Run Industry Association honored Run Flagstaff as a Top 50 Running Store at an industry event in Austin, Texas, in late November. Close to 500 stores were evaluated for the honors.

The association examined each store’s community impact, employee benefits and career opportunities. The businesses were also evaluated by a secret shopper and graded on in-store experience.

Run Flagstaff sells running shoes, apparel and all the gear and nutritional boosts to keep runners in motion for training and racing. The 1,200-square-foot store is on Route 66, roughly a block east of San Francisco Street.

Flagstaff is one of the foremost running destinations in the U.S.,” said Vince Sherry, Run Flagstaff co-owner with his wife, Sarah. “We have a great community that has shown us a lot of support over the years. In turn, we do our best to give back and elevate the running experience in Flagstaff and Sedona.”

A running store may seem like an anomaly in a city of 77,000 residents, but Flagstaff has grown into a hub for high-altitude endurance training with a vibrant running community. It is home to the Center for High Altitude Training on the Northern Arizona University campus. Trails in and around Flagstaff are bustling with local and visiting runners.

In the West, there are three major running markets: Eugene (Oregon), Boulder (Colorado) and Flagstaff. I’m sure they’d all argue they’re top dog. But Flagstaff certainly made a name for itself,” said Dan Engler, a volunteer coach for the Under Armour Dark Sky Mission team in Flagstaff.

Tuesday morning workouts in Flagstaff are kind of like watching a who’s who of international distance runners,” he said. “These are some of the best runners on the planet” training at the NAU track or on Lake Mary Road.

Run Flagstaff is positioned to serve a wide spectrum of runners in Northern Arizona, from first-time enthusiasts to elite Olympic athletes. That includes track athletes, marathoners and ultra trail runners, according to Vince Sherry.

He has 25 years of retail experience in various running stores. In Flagstaff, he first worked at the Runner’s High shop on Humphreys Street in 2007. The shop moved in 2009 to Run Flagstaff’s current location on Route 66.

There was no budget to build out the store. “It looked like a basement, as if it was ready for a going-out-of-business sale,” but Run Flagstaff survived and thrived, he said.

Sherry bought the business from Alison Ryan in May 2012. Since then, it has delivered steady growth, mixed with some flat sales years. He’s added major shoe brands over the years, including New Balance, Saucony, Nike and Adidas.

In 2019, Sherry acquired the Sedona Running Co. on Coffee Pot Drive. He rebranded it as Run Sedona and a year later moved it to a higher-profile location southwest of the roundabout at State Routes 89A and 179.

That location doubled our business in Sedona,” he said.

In August, Sherry opened the Shoebox two doors east of Run Flagstaff. The store features a selection of casual and comfortable shoes for adults and children. The three stores have a total of 12 employees.

Run Flagstaff and Run Sedona are also involved in sponsoring and timing races. That includes the popular Fourth of July Flagstaff Downtown Mile as well as three Sedona events — the Red Rock Rumble, Sedona Stumble and Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.

Still, it is running gear and the latest in top-performing footwear that gives Run Flagstaff its credibility with the running community. That and its expertise in putting runners in the right pair of shoes.

Besides buying shoes and merchandise, you’re going to get a higher level of expertise (at Run Flagstaff) on what to buy and why to buy” than you would at a general sporting goods store, said Engler, who ran track and cross country at NAU and coached the sport at Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood for three decades.   

Run Flagstaff uses an Aetrex foot scanner, which produces a 3-D image of customers’ feet to properly fit shoes and orthotics. Customers can also try out shoes on a treadmill in the store.

Assistant Manager James Wilde said it’s rewarding to put a customer in just the right shoes. “We can help you get better as a runner,” he added.

That applies to beginners trying to keep their New Year’s resolutions and to more advanced runners preparing for top competition. It seems obvious but novice runners should start out slowly and build up their endurance, Wilde said.

Even when he doesn’t feel like going for a run, Wilde said he always feels better once he’s forced himself to hit the trail and completed the run. That’s the runner’s high that all the athletes who flock to Flagstaff are chasing. FBN

By Peter Corbett, FBN

Photo by Austin Corbett: Vince Sherry is co-owner of Run Flagstaff with his wife, Sarah. 


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2024-01-07 06:39:41 , Flagstaff Business News

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