Buying a running shoe isn’t what it used to be. Nowadays, customers have a plethora of purchasing options available from the palm of their hand. Jeremy Deere, owner of Strides Running in Calgary, Alberta is changing that narrative. Strides has kept the pace by combining positive experiences and exceptional service for runners of all levels. A runner may be able to find a shoe online, but an online shopping cart won’t enhance their lifestyle or connection to community.
Family owned and operated, Strides opened its doors to the Calgary running community in 2006 with the focus of giving back to the community. The 600 square foot Little Purple House became a hub for like-minded runners and walkers. By Spring 2019, Strides has tripled in size and influence while remaining true to its core purpose of enhancing running lifestyles and promoting the concept that “everybody is a runner”
“an online shopping cart won’t enhance their lifestyle or connection to community.”
Deere credits the store’s growth to the employees and managers, stating “it’s not just a one man show.” Employees not only want to come to work they want to support all community members with their inviting and inclusive personalities. They are also all certified as Elite Fit Specialists, providing individualized recommendations to customers. “They don’t have to be a national level runner. But they have a passion for helping others, and running.” Explains Deere.
Strides’ main mission is felt as soon as you walk into one of its three store locations. Four years ago, Strides’ South Calgary location opened in Fish Creek, managed by Lauren Milburn. Further expansion resulted in its first franchise located in Canmore last spring. Owners Kylie and Paul McKendrick serve the trail and mountain running clientele in the Rockies. Representing the diversity of Alberta, Strides reaches runners and walkers in all its corners.
Since the days of The Little Purple House, Strides has remained committed to giving back to the community. Their events are not a way of making money, but a way of enhancing lifestyles. A previous national level track athlete, Deere knows how the running community can change lives. “I look at road races as a way of giving back to the community. We give back to local track and field teams, who don’t get a lot of support from corporate sponsors, and we try to support them in any way we can. I personally get involved with track, as it was such a big part of my life growing up.”
Deere is an active member of race committees in the Calgary area, helping them do the grunt work as much as possible. All of the races Deere supports gives back to a local charity such as Mito Canada, OutRun Rare, Ronald MacDonald House of Southern Alberta, the Alzheimer’s Society, and the Canadian DIabetes Association. Their biggest race is the Calgary Stampeded 5K and 10K road race, which Deere co-founded to give back to Wounded Warriors (veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Back in the store, Deere says “It’s incredible how much the industry has changed.” He understands the value of a strong online presence. Strides has been moving with the changes and morphing their online presence to resonate with their community. This means finding the balance between individualized support for customers, while reaching a wide range of consumers.
Deere still believes in the value of high quality face-to-face advice and support. Like most things in life, “if people want to be serious about sport, it’s not something you can just pick on a website. I learned fairly quickly that going to my local big box store didn’t cut it.” Choosing a shoe from a screen won’t make you a better runner. Therefore, the Strides experience is invaluable for the Calgary community. “Being able to talk to an expert, really does make a difference in the running experience.”
“For us, it’s juggling the conundrum of finding out what customers want online, and being able to translate that to an experience that works for them. And everyone sits a little differently.” Regardless, Strides provides more than shoes for runners and walkers in Alberta. They give opportunities to get involved in local charities, provide injury advice, training groups, biomechanic recommendations, and running knowledge and support. As their online presence grows, Strides continues to balance changes with individualized and high quality service.
Despite industry changes, Strides has remained dedicated to its mission and continued to merge the local running community with grassroots charities. Strides provides of an authentic customer-focused in-store experience while growing the running community and enhancing customers’ running lifestyles.