As a freshman in college, Sally Loeffler was the epitome of a first-time “jogger” - complete with her walkman, cotton tees and a dress watch to keep track of time. Fast forward 22 years and she’s now the co-owner of a two-door run specialty shop in downtown Fargo, North Dakota.
Beyond Running co-owner Jason Overland first initiated the store’s opening in 2007. After working in retail for years, Overland wanted a way to be more connected to customers.
“We started in a much smaller location in downtown Fargo, before downtown was happening,” Loeffler said. “Many people wondered what the heck we were thinking, but we are so glad we started where we did! We did a lot of reaching out to the community, hosting group runs, potlucks, etc. We quickly formed a "run family" and earned our customers one person at at time!”
In the beginning, Overland was the sole employee. He talks about waiting for the opportunity to win over a customer each day, even if he store only had one or two come through the door.
“The running community was very new to Fargo when we opened,” Loeffler said. “We made a tremendous effort to get people to run groups, support local events, but as time went on, the community became more self-sufficient. There are many running groups in town, ours is just one. Our regular run club members really take the lead on welcoming runners, getting them involved, picking routes, organizing runs. Social media has also allowed the community to grow and be more connected. We get new people regularly but I'd say the running community is larger and stronger than ever, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.”
Today, the downtown store is nicely accompanied by the secondary location, which is a remodeled car wash. The 7,000 square foot space provides both a retail store on one side and community event space on the other.
“In 2016 we had a crazy idea to buy a crummy old car wash and fix it up to house a second location in West Fargo,” Loeffler said. “We did the entire remodel- inside and out- ourselves - largely with the help of our running club family! We host yoga, run groups, crossfit, self defense classes and any other crazy thing we can think of! We have beer on tap in the community room for an added bonus after a run! An outdoor patio will be finished up this summer!”
Offering inviting communities spaces is only part of the formula that makes Beyond Running a great place to shop. Loeffler, Overland and their staff strive to put customers and community first.
“If we are to survive as retailers, the key is listening to the customer,” Loeffler said. “Customers don't want big and impersonal. They want less stuff, more experience. A place where they can find their "tribe" and trust the products and experiences we curate.”
“We just try to do the best we can in our little corner of the world,” she added. “We think that making small gestures toward our fellow humans is what starts the chain reaction of bettering our corner of the world. We believe that when you’re nice, it feels good. When you’re kind, it’s contagious.”