As part of the fitting process at Fleet Feet, it’s not uncommon to see customers jogging around the parking lot while an employee watches.
If anyone is tempted to just keep running as a way to get a free pair of new shoes, well, the people who work there are pretty fast, too.
Fleet Feet opened on Wolf Road 2 1 /2 years ago and offers a wide variety of merchandise, much of which you can find at other sports apparel stores. What sets the store apart, though, is that Fleet Feet’s workers go the extra yard beyond just finding a shoe that’s the same size as your foot.
No matter what your degree of athletic pursuit, Fleet Feet will attempt to apply the concept that when “true fit is achieved, performance follows,” as the national corporation says on its Web site. It’s no coincidence that many of Fleet Feet’s employees are runners themselves and can appreciate the level of precision needed to get the right shoe, based on characteristics like cushion and stability, not just size.
Besides joining the Gazette Stockade-athon as a co-sponsor and presenting the USATF East Region 15k championship, Fleet Feet will have a prominent presence at the Healthy Living Expo from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday at Proctors Theatre.
The franchise was opened by Charles and Arlene Woodruff and, although, it’s easy to view Fleet Feet as a niche store for runners, it’s much more than that.
“Twenty to thirty percent of our customers never run a step,” Charles Woodruff said. “They’re walking folks. Our demographics are across the board. On any given day, you can see a 7-year-old being fitted for a technical child shoe sitting next to 75-year-old getting fitted for leather walking shoes.”
The Expo will include over 30 exhibitors and a schedule of 11 seminars in the secondfloor Fenimore Gallery.
In conjunction with the Expo, Bill Rodgers and Amby Burfoot will be signing autographs as part of their national tour celebrating their Boston Marathon wins in 1978 and 1968, respectively, and Bow Tie Cinema will show the movie “Spirit of the Marathon” at 11 a.m.
The Expo will also be the last chance for runners to register for Sunday’s Stockadeathon. There is no day-of-race registration. Pre-registered runners can pick up there race packets at the Expo.
Fleet Feet won’t have the space to perform the type of on-site fitting that it does at the store, but will be able to offer expertise on finding the right shoes for your particular pursuit and will make available some winter merchandise, including snowshoes, and some sale items from the summer and fall lines.
The 53-year-old Woodruff, who has been running competitively since he was 14, has been in the shoe business for 15 years.
You can find a wide variety of shoes at the retail chains, but, as part of its business model, Fleet Feet aspires to do more than offer variety, especially since running puts so many demands on your feet.
“Our objective is to present the best option, but the customer always makes the decision,” Woodruff said. “Our job is to communicate. What’s your routine? Do you run or walk? Our fit process is designed to find the correct support system, then what are the best options?”
Although Fleet Feet sells all kinds of shoes, running shoes make up a big part of its business, which is a perfect fit for the Capital Region.
The running population easily supports several races every weekend, and the high school programs are some of the best in the country.
“Business is very strong, considering we do very little advertising,” Woodruff said. “We decided this would be our business model, sink or swim. If we created a powerful, wonderful experience, the product would perform.”
“They really make our Expo,” Stockadeathon race director Vince Juliano said. “The runners recognize the Fleet Feet product as a quality product, and it’s right around Christmastime.
“There was really a market. This area is so good for running. You see the high schools here. Even in the summer, Frank Myers does his Colonie track program, and people show up all year long. Running is embedded in this area. There’s something going on every weekend with the high schools and the races, so to have a store like that that understands all that, is a gold mine, because they don’t have any competition.”
The Healthy Living Expo will be held in Robb Alley and is free to the public. There will be free parking behind Proctor’s.
Among the exhibitors will be chiropractor Tim Maggs, who developed Structural Management in 2006, a biomechanics program designed to prevent sports injuries by addressing structural imbalances in the body.
Rodgers, a four-time winner of both the Boston and New York marathons and the last American to win Boston, in 1983, uses the program himself and serves as a spokesman for Structural Management.
Besides signing autographs with Burfoot, they will each also be seminar speakers.
Burfoot, the executive editor of Runner’s World magazine since 1985, will be the subject of “30 years at Runner’s World” at 2 p.m., followed by Rodgers’ “Winning the Boston Marathon” at 2:20.
Rodgers is one of the featured runners in “Spirit of the Marathon,” a feature-length documentary filmed on four continents to show the preparation and challenges that marathoners face.
The movie was a collaborative effort of three-time Academy Award winner Mark Jonathan Harris, Telly Award winner and marathon runner Jon Dunham and producer/ marathoner Gwendolen Twist.
It follows runners of diverse abilities as they get ready for the Chicago Marathon. Other marathon luminaries featured in the movie are Paula Radcliffe, who won New York last weekend, Frank Shorter, Deena Kastor, Dick Beardsley, Toshihiko Seko and Grete Waitz.
The Hudson-Mohawk Road Runners Club will have membership information and apparel, and will be collecting shirts and shoes for recycle and re-use.
Concerned for the Hungry will be collecting canned items and donations for Thanksgiving food baskets.
The city of Schenectady will have a booth offering ideas on universal design and green affordable housing.
Environmental management exhibitors will include the Schenectady County Advisory Council; the Environmental Committee of the Schenectady County League of Women Voters; and ECOS: Environmental Clearinghouse Council.
Food and nutrition-related booths will include Stock’s Tea Company, selling loose teas and herbs; Saratoga Peanut Butter Co., which sells 100 percent all-natural organic and gourmet peanut butter; Price Chopper, which will provide nutritional bars and nutritional advice; Isagenix’s nutritional supplementation and cleansing system for optimum health and weight loss; Honest Weight Food Co-op natural and organic food and products; Juice Plus, which uses juices from a variety of fruits, vegetables, berries and grains to make tablets that enhance the immune system, reduce DNA damage and improves curculation; and Garelick Farms, which will offer samples of their “Over the Moon” milk.
Health-care related exhibitors include Ellis Hospital; da Vinci Surgical System; USANA Health Services; Active Rx Eyewear; Active Family Chiropractic; Fidelis Care; CDPHP; and Blue Shield of Northeastern NY.
Other exhibitors will be Sportime, the fitness, tennis and sports facility off I-890 in south Schenectady; Best Fitness gym; Alpacas at Clear View Farm; Sondra’s Fine Jewelry; Huff and Puff; Tupperware; P&J’s Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamps; Sound Earth natural cleaning products; NYSERDA, which has advice on how to make homes and businesses more energy-efficient; Arbonne International skin care and wellness products; and Healing Path Massage.
Buzz 105.7 will broadcast a live remote throughout the Expo.