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Posted on Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor's Running Fit takes step toward new store on Washtenaw Avenue

By Lizzy Alfs


Ann Arbor-based Running Fit is opening a new store on Washtenaw Avenue this year.

Joseph Tobianski |

It’s the perfect marriage: a new Running Fit store is opening just east of Ann Arbor’s County Farm Park this year.

“This is probably going to be the best store we have to run from,” said Running Fit President Randy Step. “That’s always big with the staff — the weekly run.”

Step signed a lease for a 2,400-square-foot space in the under-construction Arbor Hills development, on Washtenaw Avenue between Huron Parkway and Platt Road.

The new store will be Running Fit’s eighth location in Michigan, including the original store in downtown Ann Arbor and the headquarters on Jackson Road in Scio Township. The first Running Fit store opened in 1985.


Arbor Hills is under construction on Washtenaw Avenue between Huron Parkway and Platt Road. The center will bring retail, restaurants and office space to the area when it opens in August.

Melanie Maxwell |

“We did (this) more because the synergy of who was going to be in the (Arbor Hills) center and what was going on,” Step said.

“I love to be next to like-minded businesses. Our No. 1 store is in Northville, and it’s because we’re next to REI,” he continued.

Step said having a Running Fit store in a shopping center with lululemon athletica and The North Face — and being located across the street from a Whole Foods Market — will create a health and fitness hub in the Washtenaw corridor.

The new Running Fit will be similar to the other stores in Ann Arbor. Along with selling athletic shoes, the stores carry clothing and other items; offer shoe fittings; and host health and fitness-related events.

“We’ll have a beginning run class out of (the new store) and a marathon training group,” Step said.

Step said he’s careful about expanding the company; the last time he opened a new location was the store on Jackson Road in 2009. When anyone can order shoes online with the click of a button, Step said it’s about reaching out to individual consumers and spreading the word about the benefits of shopping at Running Fit.

“We have to go out and create a customer base and show them what we do,” he said. “We have a pretty loyal following on our customer base. We track our sales and I think it’s 70-something percent of our customers are return customers.”

He added: “We don’t rush into these things. We’ll put together a very good team of people. That’s the most important thing.”

The store is set to open in August when the entire shopping center celebrates its grand opening. Step plans to ramp up hiring to staff the new store.

Other confirmed tenants in Arbor Hills are: Arhaus Furniture, Sur La Table, lululemon athletica, a restaurant by the Cafe Zola owners, Pizzeria Biga and Hot Mama women’s boutique.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

Great new opening for Running Fit- can't wait to check out the new store and the new runs from the east side of town. Should be able to make great use of County Farm Park, and maybe even make this gem of a running park even better!

Sven Gustafson

Sun, Apr 7, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

I just hope that having two stores in suburban settings — what with easier parking and all — doesn't cannibalize their original downtown location. I love that store.


Sun, Apr 7, 2013 : 1:35 a.m.

If Arhaus Furniture moves to the new location, that leaves a sizable vacancy at Arborland.

Terry Star21

Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 9:16 p.m.

Great article Lizzy. As I mentioned above, these stores are complete packages for runners and other sportspersons. Their staff has an excellent knowledge on the equipment they supply, and first class knowledge in the basics or walking/jogging/running. Several times I needed a certain type of running shoe they did not have in their store, and they found it, and had it for me in a day or two. Never any complaints, except when I first come in, I like to browse around first, without being asked for help - in fact, a tribute to their quick action to serve customers. Their running programs, in particular for beginning runners, are outstanding and teach new runners the importance of stretching, smart training, and diet. It is great to have such a 'complete' running store, that is now closer to me than the other two stores.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

MRunner....Most RF employeee do know me and about my running past. The very young employee do not know of me. I ran XC at M in the fall of 1973 to earn the varsity letter. Also ran track in the early and mid 1970s but was not eligible.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

MRunner73- I've been trying to figure out who you are as well :) glad it is not just the Running Fit folks who don't know... I'm guessing UM class of 73, and track/XC affiliated?


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

Some folks feel discriminated by the help at the RF stores because they either run low mileage or jog slowly, which really isn't true. Many of these same folks who work their do not know who I am nor do I want them to as I am a just another customer like anyone else.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

While I'm all for a new running store, a North Face store, and other such stores, I doubt I'll go to that particular Running Fit because of the location. It's a nightmare over there by Whole Foods. The traffic stinks! Traffic logistics need to be improved for me to head over there. I live on the East side of AA and drive to the Jackson Road RF and the Whole Foods off AA-Saline Road when I need to go there.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

Good luck to Running Fit. Randy Step knows what he is doing. The business has grown over the years but at a steady and sensible rate. Great location for the AA East-enders.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 10:01 p.m.

TS 21: I need to join them in there Saturday morning runs. They are much more than just an outlet to sell shoes and running apparel. GO BLUE!!

Terry Star21

Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

And complement them as well, for their experience in running basics, and the actual training runs and educational runs they do.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

You know the real shame of this is..............I remember when this was a newspaper that mostly dealt with newsworthy items and made a business pay for advertising. Oh those were the days, and I didn't appreciate them at the time.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

Jake; this is a business related article, much as the Blimpy Burger story done a day or two ago. So if were a real newspaper, you can bet that you would see this same story.

Kyle Mattson

Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

Not sure if I follow how the announcement of a local business opening a new location in the community is 'advertising' Jake. If you have more detailed feedback regarding coverage you want to see feel free to email our new director at paulagardner(at) Thanks!


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Can it be confirmed that The North Face is moving in to Arbor Hills?


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

I think an earlier commenter misinterpreted what was said in the article.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

Yay! Another location where the staff will ignore you because they are too busy regaling their running pals with epic running tales. I only run 30 miles a week, so I am not worthy of attention....even when I'm standing at the cash register with cash in hand.

Joe Hood

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 1:31 a.m.

I have always experienced good service there and I m getting pretty far from young and emaciated.

Terry Star21

Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

I disagree leezee. You may have had one rare experience, and I mean rare. I have frequented those two stores on many occasions since they opened. Any complaints I might have is; leave me alone for a couple minutes to browse. Several times, I just wanted to look at the selections first, without help. I find their staff not only experienced in running apparel, but well experienced into the basics of running. I would recommend their stores to anyone, and back them up 100% !

Andy Price

Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 7:13 p.m.

How funny. I've totally had this experience there too. Though I've also had a young kid help me who was great.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 6:42 p.m. need to ask for Steve or Randy, the top two at Running Fit. While you may have had a bad experience, I doubt that this goes on repeatedly. If so, again, Steve works out of the downtown store. Good luck.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

I have been to the Running Fit on Jackson Road many times and I have been waited on promptly and courteously. Oh, and I too am not in the best of shape and older, I go there to get walking shoes. Once when my wife and I were there one of the sales people waited on someone who came in after us but when the manager noticed this they came over, apologized and assured us the salesperson would be counseled.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

I totally agree. I have had staff problems in both the Downtown and the Jackson Road stores. I have been in the shops to purchase shoes or my son's cross country gear and I suppose because I am older and maybe not in the best shape, they assume I am not a runner (I am, and I play soccer too.) I am usually ignored until I get to the register with my money. Zappos gives better service.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

So far, I'm not excited about the stores coming to Arbor Hills - too high end, expensive-type. Really need some basics - how about a nice simple Hallmark store. Since Georgetown Gifts closed, I have to go to the westside Hallmark store to get decent card selections.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

For a buck, try the Dollar Store. The selection is good. Meijer also has a good selection of hallmark cards.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 3 p.m.

Ugh. Anything but a Hallmark store.

Ann Arbor Nurse

Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

Really, you would rather a Hallmark store?? You can buy a nice card at Trader Joe's for a dollar! You could even customize it with a personal message...


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

@bulldog I so agree. I miss Georgetown Gifts very much. I used the post office there often also.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

The North Face, Whole Foods, Running Fit, and lululemon. #AnnArbor.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 11:38 a.m.

"will create a health and fitness hub in the Washtenaw corridor." A hub within a corridor? Wow.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

The city is just going to be one huge network of hubs connected by corridors. Each with some catchy name.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 10:11 a.m.

Don't you mean east of the County Farm Park? Not west.

Lizzy Alfs

Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

Sure did! Thanks.