They’re No. 1: Runner’s Edge named best running store in USA

Runner’s Edge staff, from left to right, Tim Anders, Elizabeth Brown, Erin Forde, Alex Tait, Meg Brooker, Sarah Knutson, Vicky Mix and Anders Brooker.

Runner’s Edge was named the best running store in the United States this month, based on its high-quality service, product selection and overall customer satisfaction.

The Best Running Stores in America 2019 organization made the announcement at a conference and ceremony in Arizona, where the downtown Missoula mainstay was feted as the best of the best.

“When they looked at stores, they had about 15,000 nominations from customers,” said Anders Brooker, owner of Runner’s Edge. “These aren’t nominations where people are filling out a survey, people have to take time and write in about what they like about their store.”

Turns out, Missoula residents had a lot of good things to say about Runner’s Edge.

Judges also considered how well a store works with vendors and the overall experience of secret shoppers.

Most of the nominated stores were in larger cities with multiple storefronts. Missoula was one of the smallest cities that made it to the final round of judging and selection.

“This award is a direct reflection of our community and our customers, and how they feel about the store and how we feel about them,” Brooker said Wednesday. “We feel pretty lucky to have support like that.”

Looking to the future, Brooker plans to invest in more staff training and new technology to improve the shoe-fitting process and overall communication with customers, all while maintaining the service that makes his store great.

Runner’s Edge hosts about 10 events and supports an average of 50 events every year. Next up is the Mountain to Meadow half marathon, scheduled for mid-June.

“For us, it’s continuing to concentrate on what got us here today, and that’s a great staff, it’s community involvement and it’s great customer experience,” Brooker said. “How can we continue to invest in our team? How can we continue to increase or improve on our customer experience?”

Having started the business in 2001 as a young 20-year-old entrepreneur, Anders never thought his store would be named the best in the nation.

“In today’s retail environment where you can buy everything at a click of a button, our customers are still going out of their way for our business and to keep their money in the local economy,” Brooker said. “We just feel grateful that we get to do this and be supported by Missoula. We’re pretty lucky.”

Contact reporter Mari Hall via email at mari.hall@missoulacurrent.com.