Alan Outlaw originally got into running in middle school as a way to stay in shape for basketball. Little did he know at the time that he’d one day be the owner of Fast Break Athletics, a running specialty shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Originally called FInal Four INC, which was comprised of five ‘Athletic Attics’ and one “Fast Break Athletics’. Outlaw shopped at the store as a kid. Eventually, the stores condensed down to the one Fast Break Athletics that still operates today.
“Being able to transition into ownership of a forty-year-old run shop where I shopped as a kid was a dream come true,” Outlaw said. “I get to work with my heroes every day!”
Chattanooga has a storied running community, dating back to the mid 1960s. When Fast Break came along in 1977, it filled a void from a footwear standpoint, partnering with the Chattanooga Track Club, which has sustained a forty-year relationship. The store today continues to partner with the track club to direct Tennessee's oldest road race, “The Chattanooga Chase”, where proceeds benefit the club’s youth development program.
For Outlaw, owning a small business means being able to recognize and be vulnerable to feedback and react based on the needs of the environment.
“The responsibility of waking up everyday and taking the pulse of our shop is like nothing else,” he said. “The more love and care you put into your business the better.”
Being in the Chattanooga running community for more than forty-years only scratches the surface on what makes this shop so great. With long tenured staff, some having been with the store for more than thirty years, and a hunger to pass along their tradition and a passion for running to the next generation of runners is really what it’s all about.
“My favorite thinking is getting to come to work everyday knowing there’s a chance we can make someone realize what running can mean to them,” he said. “Being able to effect situations to directly improve someone’s life means everything to Fast Break.”