In the Community
Naperville Running Company
Finding Your Strong
Every year, Competitor magazine partners with Running Insight trade magazine to identify the 50 Best Running Stores in America. For the 8th consecutive year, Naperville Running Company (NRC) received this award. When you first walk into their Downtown Naperville location (34 W. Jefferson Ave, Naperville, IL, 60540) you would never know that they have award after award after award…and they want to keep it that way!
I arrived for our early morning interview with Midge (General Manager & Customer Experience Manager) and Kris (Owner & Customer Experience Manager), a few minutes before the store opened. I peak into the store and, although none of the lights are on, I see people doing push-ups, planks, rolling out their legs, and even doing squats. As soon as Midge arrived, I anxiously asked who was working out in their store.
“These are our employees,” she responds “Every morning they arrive 15 minutes before their shift to perform their morning routine, we call it, Finding Your Strong.”
And they certainly did “Find their Strong”. The morning routine was as much about maintaining a strong relationship with their co-workers as it was to maintain a healthy lifestyle. As soon as the doors opened for the day, each employee was high energy and ready to go.
This ready-to-go attitude is exactly why people keep coming back. “Our entire focus is on making connections with our customers”, Owner Kris Hartner describes, “We are here for the customer, not the other way around. Our entire focus is on them. Retail is not easy, but we always try and stay focused on our customers.” Many companies say this but not all of them truly live by it. From their completely original fitting process, their community events, and their training programs- everything they do is for their customers.
Opened in 2000, Naperville Running Company has Reader’s Choice awards from Chicago’s Athlete, Naperville Small Business of the Year 2009, Store of the Year from Competitor Magazine, and many, many more. When asked why customers love them so much, their answer was simple, “It’s all about giving back,” Kris continued “the visible outreach things we do, the training programs, the events, we have a non-stop calendar now. Being in this community and giving back, that’s all it comes down to.”
When Achieve Orthopedic Rehab has a patient that could benefit from new shoes, we first recommend Naperville Running Company. Their staff is educated, healthy, and great communicators. Their staff maintains that communication with their customers’ physical therapists is “vital” to patient success. Likewise! There are many times when Achieve sends over a patient with a brief history of the injury/condition and our recommendation on the type of support needed. Occasionally, a Naperville Running Co. employee will call us and let us know that after checking their stride, they recommend something a little different. Midge elaborates and says, “being able to just call the therapist and have a back and forth about what works best for our the customer is great. The mutual trust between our companies is what makes this work.” And it does. Achieve has seen countless patients return from NRC and say that they didn’t feel like this was just a place to get shoes. All agree that it’s an educational experience. It is a feeling of involvement. It means a lot to people that all the attention is focused on them.
The Fitting Process
When asked how the fitting process differs from a seasoned marathoner to someone walking in off the street, Midge and Kris answered in unison, “There is no difference.” Midge continues, “the whole goal, no matter what activity level someone is, is to make sure they are in the proper footwear.” When a customer first arrives, they get their foot measured. Following a brief history of what they will be using the shoes for, the customer service employee will watch every person walk, exam how their foot lays in a non-weight bearing position, and then recommend shoes that will best support your foot. Each step is very specific to each individual customer and customized based on your need. When your shoes are finally brought out, do not be alarmed. Carrying 5-6 boxes out is not out of the normal. Employees give you and opportunity to try on all the shoes and find what is best for you. Similar to an eye-doctor’s appointment ,(“which is clearer, left or right?”) if you find a shoe you like, they keep it on one foot and put a different shoe on your other foot. After you’ve found the perfect fit, it is time for a walk or run on the treadmill. Not only does NRC watch you run/walk, they record a segment of your run/walk (and play it back to you/pause it) so you can truly understand what your foot is doing.
The Difference between good and great
If you have never looked into everything else Naperville Running Company offers besides elite level shoe fitting, it’s your lucky day! Check out some of the other things NRC does:
Marathon Training –train for a marathon with a group of others and a coach!
Running 101- Couch to 5k program
Running 201- 10k race training
Form Running Classes
Basement & Community Rooms:
NRC has a community room that can be used by the community for wellness talks, stretching clinics, and much more! Ask NRC for more details about renting out this space.
The spike shed. Two years ago when the community room started, Nike approached NRC about doing something more with the space. They decided to put in bleachers, TV’s, allowing this space to be available for spike nights. Today, teams can come and use this space for meetings, pre-race/post-race events. Contact NRC for more information.
The difference between good and great is the extra effort to make every one feel at home. Naperville Running Company is not just a store. The focus on customer service, community involvement, and genuine care for everyone that walks in the door is what truly sets this company apart from others.
Visit Naperville Running Company today:
34 W. Jefferson Ave.
Naperville, IL 60540
3416 S Route 59, Suite 116
Naperville, IL 60564