<> Runner's love for the sport blossoms into independent shop in Saratoga Springs | The Daily Gazette
 

Subscriber login

Outlook

Runner's love for the sport blossoms into independent shop in Saratoga Springs

Outlook

Runner's love for the sport blossoms into independent shop in Saratoga Springs

Jamie Mastroianni’s iRun Local found in heart of downtown
Runner's love for the sport blossoms into independent shop in Saratoga Springs
Jamie Mastroianni, owner, of iRun Local at their new location on Broadway in Saratoga Springs on Thursday, December 20, 2018.
Photographer: Erica Miller/Gazette Photographer

Jamie Mastroianni’s experience with running, like many newcomers to the sport, blossomed from a love-hate relationship into a lifelong treasure.

“To be honest, I hated it,” she laughed over the phone from inside her Saratoga Springs-based running specialty shop, iRun Local.

That love-hate relationship changed soon enough, however, once she began to use the sport as an escape, a means of spending time with friends and a way to channel her competitive spirit.

For Mastroianni, running became a way to relax and spend time outside. Soon, she said, her competitive nature kicked in and took her relationship with the sport to the next level. “Once I was able to run three miles I wanted to be able to run four miles, then five miles… and then you continue to set challenges.” In 2005, she crossed the finish line of her first marathon.

Mastroianni is now 36 and lives in Saratoga Springs with her husband and their two children: Joseph, 2, and John, 1. She grew up in Arizona and lived in California before moving to upstate New York.

She started running in college to stay fit and continued with the sport as she took her first job after college working in marketing at Fortune 500 company Black & Decker where she met her husband, Anthony.

The couple moved to Saratoga Springs after a job opportunity arose for her husband in 2011. Though the couple didn’t initially expect to make the move permanent, Mastroianni said, they fell in love with the town right away. “We really see this as our home now.” 

It was on long runs in Saratoga training for a marathon with her husband in 2012 that the idea of opening up her own independent running store was planted. “Logging those miles, we started talking about what’d it be like to open a running store and whether Saratoga would be the right place,” she said. 

Noting the strength and vibrance of the local running community, Mastroianni took the leap and quit her job to take on her dream full time.

Since iRun Local opened its doors in Saratoga Springs in 2014, it’s moved from a Congress Street location right into the heart of downtown on Broadway. “If we were going to be able to grow and be more visible and support the local community even better, Broadway was where we could get that visibility. When the location became open in September we jumped on it,” said Mastroianni. 

From an outside perspective running may seem individualistic, however, Mastroianni recognized the potential for connection. Mastroianni was especially drawn to the social aspect of running. “My friends started to run and it was something we could do together. It wasn’t like clocking time at the gym,” she said. That connection is something she takes pride in fostering through her work at iRun Local. 

Mastroianni noted something subtle yet intentional about the store’s logo, saying, “the “i” is really little.” Though she recognizes the independent nature of the sport, she believes in the sport’s ability to bring people together.

Taking on training runs with others transforms the sport into something else entirely according to Mastroianni.“The camaraderie is something really special,” she said. iRun Local hosts a slew of group runs and offers access to a network of trainers in the Capital Region.

More from Outlook 2019

Mastroianni continues to be motivated by the connections being made through the training programs and running groups, like the Mom’s Running Group, hosted by iRun Local. “It inspires me as someone who is able to run longer distance now to see people getting together and pushing themselves like I did at one time in my life as well,” she said. It’s especially impactful, she said, when clients return to the store after their race, still soaring from their runner’s high, to share how the race went. 

Since throwing herself feet first into the sport, she’s noticed the tendency of running to be passed down from one generation to the next. “Parents grow up running, kids grow up running…  You get grandfathered into the sport,” she laughed.

Though her two boys are still in the stroller stage of the racing world, she said “If their activities now are any indication of what they’re going to love to do it’s definitely running around.”  She and her husband take turns watching the kids so the other can compete -- that is, until the boys are old enough to run themselves. 

With a master’s degree in business under her belt, Mastroianni said operating a successful running store “takes more than just a business background and more than a passion for running. Having them both allows us to build a business we can sustain.”  

“Getting the word out about who we are and what we offer” remains a challenge for the business, said Mastroianni. “Having been open for almost five years -- there are still locals who don’t know we are here and that is a big part of why we chose to move to Broadway.” 

When it comes to competing with online giants from her brick and mortar shop, Mastroianni said it boils down to a commitment to quality customer service and a loyalty towards the local community. “We really pride ourselves on putting the customer first. Whether somebody buys something in our store or not, we make sure they leave with a good feeling. That word of mouth and reputation, especially in a small town, go a long way.” 

iRun Local sponsors the South Glens Falls Invitational every year as well as a few other local races. It also teams up with local high schools, offering “spike nights” where they fit high school runners with trainers and spikes, donating 10 percent of the sales to their booster clubs, according to Mastroianni.  

It was clear from the beginning that the core of the business had to be locally focused and independent, said Mastroianni. “We felt strongly that this community needed an independent running store where we could bring in the products we believed in. We decided to start out on our own.” iRun Local now attracts runners from across the Capital Region and north, even extending into Vermont, according to Mastroianni. 

During the upcoming year, iRun Local will be taking advantage of its larger and more central location by adding new brands to its collection, adding group training programs and a three-part running clinic led by local physical therapist Dr. Goodemote. 

More from Outlook 2019

View Comments
Hide Comments
0 premium 1 premium 2 premium 3 premium article articles remaining SUBSCRIBE TODAY

Thank you for reading. You have reached your 30-day premium content limit.

Continue to enjoy Daily Gazette premium content by becoming a subscriber or if you are a current print subscriber activate your online access.