Local runners could hardly wait for the new Fleet Feet in The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch to officially open its doors. On Friday, Sept. 2, owners Kevin Lachenmyer and his father Todd let customers in early who were ready to get their running feet into some new shoes.
Fleet Feet, the largest running shoe/apparel company in the country, just celebrated its 40th anniversary in June — Ironman triathlete and endurance runner Sally Edwards and her best friend Elizabeth Jansen opened the first Fleet Feet Sports store in Sacramento in 1976.
From its humble beginnings, Fleet Feet has grown to include 165 franchises across the country, with 95 percent of them individually and locally owned. The Pacific Highlands Ranch location is the only one in San Diego — the closest store in Southern California is in Laguna Niguel.
Kevin Lachenmyer, who lives just a quick few miles away, said he's excited to be a part of a very active and growing community.
Lachenmyer believes the new running specialty store will fit right in with health and fitness-oriented Village businesses such as Crunch and Pure Barre, offering the " latest and greatest" in run wear, shoes and gear from brands like Nike, Brooks, Under Armour, Oiselle, Hoka One One, Balega and Stance socks, Lucy yoga attire and much more.
Fleet Feet will also carry nutrition in gels and chews, injury prevention devices, such as braces, foam rollers and massage tools, and electronics like GPS watches and heart rate monitors.
Lachenmyer grew up in Orange County and previously worked as a financial adviser for a number of years, as well as in small business sales.
"I never liked the corporate life," Lachenmyer said.
A couple of years ago he began seriously exploring the opportunity to own his own business that reflected his active lifestyle outside of work — he had played soccer through college and ran cross country as part of his off-season training and conditioning.
Lachenmyer decided to take a running leap to own his own Fleet Feet — what he liked about the franchise is that they allow every owner to build the store that they want.
"What's unique about Fleet Feet is the focus is on not just being a retailer but being a community hub in every market that they're in," Lachenmyer said.
He intends for the store to become a part of the community with training groups for races, fun runs and weekly yoga and boot camp sessions.
There is a fee for Fleet Feet's eight-to-10-week race training groups, but most of the events will be free. Their first training group is set to start in November for the Carmel Valley 5K on Jan. 22. The program will be designed for people who would like to train to run their first 5K and get a jumpstart on any New Year's resolutions to begin an active lifestyle, Lachenmyer said.
Fleet Feet will hold an opening weekend celebration Sept. 9-11. On Friday, they will have an open house from 4-7 p.m. with shop vendors Nike and Under Armour and some light refreshments. On Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. they will have a fun run through the community with a raffle and giveaways, and on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Fleet Feet will host a free yoga session.
Lachenmyer said opening his first store is very exciting, the satisfying completion of a project two years in the making.
"It's amazing in the final couple days to see everything come to fruition, from sketches to the finished product," Lachenmyer said. "It's fun."
Fleet Feet is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. They are located at 5980 Village Way, Suite 108, San Diego, 92130. For more information visit fleetfeetsandiego.com or call (858) 793-5335.