Customers in the Jackson metro area will soon have two locations to choose from if they want to visit a store that specializes in “inspiring and empowering the runner in everyone.” Lesley and Matthew Holleman own and operate Fleet Feet in Ridgeland, and plan on opening a second location in Flowood by Thanksgiving. The 1,956-square-foot store will be in the Lakeland Commons shopping center at 153 Ridge Way.
Lesley Holleman started as an outfitter with Fleet Feet in Ridgeland in 2003. Three years later, when the owner left to take ownership of a store in Nashville, Tenn., Holleman joined the five-year Fleet Feet’s Development Company Program that helps put people on the path to franchise ownership. In 2011, the Hollemans became the official owners of the Ridgeland location.
Some people might be surprised the Jackson metro area could support not one, but two, stores focused primarily on running. But Lesley Holleman said there are absolutely enough runners in the area to support specialty retail.
“Our Ridgeland store has been open and successful for almost 17 years now,” she said. “The community of runners who support our store every day are unbelievably passionate, welcoming, and have helped us build something truly special in the Jackson area. Their support has fueled our growth in ways we never dreamed, and allows us the opportunity to build the same type of community in the town of Flowood.”
Holleman has considerable practical experience in the demands of running. She has competed seven marathons including the Boston Marathon and the Chicago Marathon, and has done numerous 5Ks, 10Ks, and half-marathons.
However, she said they are focused on so much more than running. Some of their customers may be training for a marathon, some are just starting a general walking or exercise program and a number of them are just trying to make it through the workday without pain. “Our goal is to help them all reach their goals no matter what they are,” she said.
Holleman said a good running shoe will perform well for most sports, but some people may require shoes more specific to that activity.
“We have a wide variety of supportive insoles that we can outfit most cleats, football, basketball, tennis and even cheerleading shoes with,” she said.
And Fleet Feet is about more than shoe wear.
“Our goal is to outfit you from head to toe,” Holleman said. “We have amazing socks, clothing, nutritional products, headwear, compression products, massage tools, sunglasses, GPS watches and more. We also offer training programs to help runners of all skill levels reach their goals. We host weekly fun runs that are laid back, free, welcoming to all and super fun. We also have Fleet Feet Running Clubs that cater to beginning, intermediate and advanced runners.”
Holleman said their store is about more than products. It is about building a running community.
“If all we did was sell products, our jobs would be really boring,” she said.
Some people have learned that it is difficult to buy shoes online that fit. So, this is one place where a retail outlet is usually a better alternative than buying online.
Holleman finds that shoes are a pretty personal item.
“A shoe can make or break your race, your exercise routine or even your day,” she said. “Feet are unique and we are experts in matching your foot to a specific fit. Yes, trying them on is important, but even more beneficial is having a relationship with your store. It’s extremely helpful to have someone you can talk to in person about your feet, your activities, your issues and your likes/dislikes. On top of that, we want to know how your shoes/gear performs for you. If it doesn’t meet your expectations, we want to know and make it right.”
Robyn Goby, vice president of development for Fleet Feet, said the Holleman’s commitment to the greater Jackson area running community is a prime example of the power of local ownership.
“From Lesley’s early days working under veteran Fleet Feet store owner Jeff Wells, to her time in our store development company program, to both Lesley and Matthew’s leadership as co-owners of the Ridgeland store, the Hollemans continue to live by the belief that running changes everything, and have proven that for countless members of the Jackson running community,” Goby said.
Fleet Feet, in partnership with Volumental, launched the fit id in 2017. Goby said in five seconds, the foot scanner measures foot width, arch height and other measurements, which can be seen on an iPad.
“These measurements can be used to find shoes that fit your foot type more accurately,” Goby said. “Fleet Feet just launched a one-of-a-kind running shoe called the Ikoni. This is the first ever running shoe constructed from the data points of over 100,000 customer 3D foot scans. These scans and specifically 7 of the 12 total data points captured from the scans help inform the build of the shoe last, a 3D mold which serves as the basis for shoe construction and accounts for shoe dimensions including heel width, instep height and toe box depth among other points.”
The Flowood store will employ up to 10 full and part-time positions, and will offer training programs for The Big Run 5K June event through Fleet Feet Running Club beginning in March 2019.
Founded in 1976, Fleet Feet said it is the largest franchisor of locally owned and operated running stores with 175 locations in 37 states and a national headquarters in Carrboro, N.C.
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