Welcome to the Neighborhood?

It’s no secret that it’s taken a while for us to get our doors open. “A while” might be an understatement. In fact, we’re probably starting to look like the store that cried “opening!”. Last week we were certain Saturday the 23rd was our big day. My ever so patient and eager staff cleared out their schedules, tied up their laces, and moved and unloaded more boxes than I have in the 8 times I’ve moved in my adult life. As a manager/athlete/living being, you can’t help but geek out at the power of human forces coming together to make something big happen. Early mornings, late evenings, cut up knuckles and bruised shins – I looked up at some point mid-week and just thought “I’m so pumped to get these doors open, because I have one awesomely dedicated team.”

If you’ve ever been a part of opening a store, whether it’s your own or just one you just happen to work for, then I’m certain you know the physical and emotional stress it entails. If you haven’t, then try to understand that it’s like moving into a new home and needing to get settled in as quickly as possible – only your paycheck depends upon it.

This is by no means a ploy to cue the violins. Sharing this experience, I simply intended to humanize the proverbial big bad wolf that just moved into town. We’re just a bunch of runners and athletes looking to make a living doing what we love – and it is with good fortune that we are able to do so with a fairly sizable corporate backing. For most of us (staff) that simply means: affordable health care, 401K options, paid time off, and bit more economic mobility. It has become apparent, however, that for the rest of us (consumers) – it means something different. It means “big business”. It means greed. It means a lack of humanity. It might even mean putting others out of business.

Stereotypes. They’re pretty powerful, huh?

So powerful that reading the recent article posted about us on hobken411 actually made me anxious. Apparently, “ignorant “runners” and “joggers” seem to be sold by the strong branding & marketing presence [we] have, and have become loyal customers hook, line and sinker (it’s that pseudo über-athlete mentality that clouds all sensible judgment).” I’ll spare you an academic dissection of the article’s (mis)information – you can read it for yourself. I will, however, defend my store, my employees, and our customers (I can’t recall any that would self-identify with “ignorant”, and who says “jogger” other than Ron Burgundy??).

Competition makes the world go ’round. It’s what forces us to be better. To be our best. To learn more, grow more, and set big goals. We are wholly aware that Fleet Feet-Hoboken is merely blocks away – most of our employees, including myself, have shopped there. They’re incredibly kind and passionate people with loyal fans, and have clearly worked hard over the years to build their franchise and truly make it their own. I look forward to having this constant reminder to be the best we can be – for how is anyone to be the best without a point of comparison?

And speaking of comparisons:

A quick history: The Running Company Stores (now known as Run Specialty Group) were only recently sold to Finishline – prior to that, we were just a small private chain that was New Jersey owned and operated, with a few stores outside of the NY/NJ area. In March 2012, we experienced a back-end management change after Finishline partnered with Gart Companies. While there is no question that we are expanding at a rapid rate – there should also be no question that we are functioning just as we always have. We offer the same quality of services, have maintained nearly all of our original staff, and are proud to have kept a devoted customer base.

Similarities abound, and it is interesting to read in a recent article from Running Insight that: “Eighteen months ago Fleet Feet underwent a management buyout in conjunction with Investors Management Corp. Since then, it has opened its 100th store and embarked on a campaign to get existing stores to convert to Fleet Feet by offering back-end support that is attractive to entrepreneurs who love product and marketing but are occasionally baffled by numbers. Fleet Feet could double its numbers in the next five years…”

I think it’s safe to say there is a lot to learn about both stores.

Right now, we’re just looking forward to getting those doors open and finding our place in the community.


Jessie LaPointe (Hoboken Store Manager, formerly of The Westfield Running Company)

Leave a reply


  1. Brian Lovato says

    I live in Hoboken and try to support business locally, I read that article this weekend that you mentioned and it really irritated me at their comments. I have been to several of the Fleet Feet stores and they are by no means a local business, they might was well call a franchised McDonalds a local business. Any way I have been waiting all summer for your store to open I even came by on Saturday to find it still closed, what a surprise ( hoboken is not business friendly).

    I do appreciate the customer service I receive at that other store, but bottom line is their inventory is very small and not much for choice, I tend to go over to the Nike Running Store or Paragon Sports to make all my purchases, hope your store will have a good selection, I did recently make it to the Run On store in Southlake, TX and I hope your store will be better than that one, small and not much for choice.

    • Hoboken says

      Your support is very much appreciated, Brian. We’ve worked hard with our buying team out in Denver to select a range of products that we believe suit the needs and tastes of the Hoboken community. We’re also a company built on our customers and their feedback, so please continue to share your voice once we’re open! Hopefully we’ll see you soon…

  2. Joseph Bale says

    The insinuation that Fleet Feet is anything but a local business is misleading. The franchise exercising no executive-making decisions, and provides no funds. Each store is independent and rises or falls on its own merit.
    In contrast, your store does not have to make a profit or be successful to exist, and I think this is the real crux of the matter. The fact is, Your store, by itself is a failure. The location was poorly chosen, the market was not adequately researched, and you are hemorrhaging massive amounts of money. Fortunately for you, this does not really matter, the Finish Line wants a store here, and therefore profitability is not an issue. For you to speak of competition, therefore, is laughable. If you were going head to head with Fleet Feet Hoboken, you would have lost already, bankrupting by months of rent.
    Being an adamant capitalist, I firmly believe and support your right to exist and function here. However, your so-called “competition” has no real effect on you, it doesn’t push you to get better, the only possible outcome is to have a detrimental effect on the locally owned shop. So, say and do what you want, but the public does deserve to know which store is in fact locally owned, and to know that when they shop, they are facing the choice of whether they want Hoboken to become a town of impersonal chains, or independent businesses

    • Hoboken says

      This message was written with respect and dignity. No malice intended. Nothing was intended to be misleading – apologies if this was seemingly not the case. It is with uncertainty that we can say the same about the host of recent posts, comments, and articles written about our own establishment – rife with mudslinging.

      We are all entitled to our opinions, and grateful that you and many others are willing to share – but there is a difference between a dialogue and a diatribe. We are candid about our roots and eventual shift to corporate support – there are no tricks. No lies.

      We came here with the inent to co-exist. Just as do Starbucks and Empire Coffee & Tea, Chipotle and Charritos, Anthropologie and The Nomad Truck, Crumbs and Sweet, Dunkin’ Donuts and Hoboken Hot Bagels, NYSC and Crossfit Hoboken – the list goes on. The commonality? While there may be a cross-over in specialization, it is with certainty that consumers go to different establishments in each category for different reasons.

      Failures happen in big businesses and small alike. We’ll take our chances. For now, it would be in both stores’ best interests to recognize the impasse we’ve reached and focus our energies on serving the community.

      Happy Holidays,

  3. Small shopper says

    Perhaps be careful with the use of “we” or “we’ll”. As an individual using that, if you want to take your chances in comparison perhaps you should pay the rent at “your” store. Or at the very least see what it’s like to have to generate enough money from your store to justify paying rent, payroll and other bills at some sort of sensible profitable margin. Mr. Bale makes fair points about your corporate support. The existence of it by definition makes HRC and all of the other stores in the group just part of a big corporate machine, and not a locally owned and operated business like many of the independent running stores it seeks to buy or compete with or put out of business. It is what it is. Just do not pretend as part of staff for something corporately owned to be playing in the same competitive game as an independent small running store just because both stores sell some of the same product.

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