SPOTLIGHT: Run with It

Run With It has built success on customer service

Five years at its current location. Nearly a decade in business overall.

It’s safe to say Run With It is still thriving. The 6,100 square-foot store at 170 Miracle Strip Parkway SE in downtown Fort Walton Beach that specializes in running and walking shoes is ready to continue meeting the footwear needs of every individual.

You don’t stay in business for a decade by accident. Store owner Jeff Harris explains the reason his business has succeeded.

“The reason our business has been successful is because of our customer service aspect,” Jeff said.

“That is what differentiates us from other businesses of this type.”

When customers walk in, they can be assured they will be treated right and that the time will be taken to make sure they find the right pair of shoes. Employees at the popular run tech store are always willing to go the extra mile.

“You can get shoes in other places, but people come here because we offer that personalized touch,” said Donna, who is Jeff’s wife and co-owner of the store. “We take as much time as we can with each customer, sometimes spending more than an hour. Finding the right shoe is almost like putting a puzzle together. We ask them about injuries and the distance they run. We want to find out about their situation and help find the right shoe for them.”

The best part is that customers receive advice on shoes from a knowledgeable staff.

“We are very particular about who we hire,” Jeff said. “Everyone who works here is a runner.”

That includes the younger employees.

“The kids that do work here are incredibly intelligent and are all runners,” Jeff said. “They are shoe geeks. They love shoes and know more about the shoes than we do. They are always on their phones researching shoes.”

A database is kept at the store, containing information about the customers and pairs of shoes they have purchased in the past. Notes are included that detail which shoes worked for a customer and which ones didn’t.

And if you had any questions about the reputation of the store, consider this one bit of information.

“Podiatrists and doctors are sending their patients here, and they are not runners,” Jeff said. “People come in with a prescription. It doesn’t tell them what shoe they need but our address is on there. We help them find the best shoe.”

A variety of running and walking shoes are available. Orthotic sandals are also available.

The process of finding a customer the right pair of shoes starts with a gate analysis. That determines how high the customer’s arch is and the amount of pronation (the inward or outward movement of the foot). A treadmill is available inside the store, providing customers with an opportunity to test out the shoe before they make a purchase.

Hoka is among the more popular brands at the store. Its looks are deceiving. It may look like an orthopedic shoe but it is unbelievably light weight and has maximum cushion. Jeff and Donna will tell you runners are impressed with the shoe when they try it on. The brand is particularly popular among ultra-marathon participants. The shoe is also a popular choice among those who are on their feet all day for work.

Always on the lookout for the best new products on the market, Jeff and Donna attend the international trade show every year. Typically, they will find something worth adding to their inventory.

The original Run With It store opened in Navarre more than nine years ago, but because many shop to the East or West of town, the store was moved to Fort Walton Beach.

Business has been booming ever since and the 10-year anniversary of the business will be celebrated in September.

Customers come from as far away as Crestview and DeFuniak Springs to shop at the store. Jeff and Donna hope you make the trip over as well.

“People come from all over and make a day trip out of it,” Donna said. “People come here because they want to build a relationship with us. They want to support our small business. It’s awesome.”



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