Long before sisters Steph and Carrie Blozy owned Fleet Feet Sports, they were two little girls playing “store” with their cardboard storefront they received at Christmas. At a young age, they both fell in love with running, but their path into the running industry wasn’t exactly a straight one.
“We talked about owning a store together one day, but our career paths diverged after college with Carrie pursuing a career in international trade and me in weather,” Steph said. “But as we sat in front of a fire on New Year's Eve in 2005 talking about our life goals, our dream of being business owners resurfaced.”
In 2008 the Blozy sisters purchased Fleet Feet Sports in West Hartford, Connecticut - a store that already had an 11-year history in the community, but still a long ways to go.
“While the Hartford area had a lot of runners, there wasn't a central community - something we've worked hard to change,” Steph said. “Our first fun run had one attendee. The next week, he brought a friend who, in turn, brought a friend the following week. Fast forward ten years and we average forty to fifty runners for our fun runs and have helped over two thousand adults conquer their goal race through our training program. We even host a kids running program that has over three hundred and fifty kids in it this spring. I like to think that we are the nucleus that bonds our running community together and helps it grow!”
Now celebrating their 10th year as owners, the Blozy sisters still focus on their service to the community. Whether it’s creating fun, free events to encourage customers to get moving, or focusing on giving back, Fleet Feet Sports is constantly on the move. Among many of their activations is Footwear with Care - a non-profit they formed with the local Podiatric Medical Association and the Hartford Police Dept to provide sneakers and boots to the homeless. In two years, they’ve given away over 2,000 pairs of new or like-new sneakers and boots.
“Being a small business owner is being a leader for your staff and your community,” Steph said. “You have a responsibility that goes way beyond making money. You need to be an employer of choice who creates a wonderful environment for employees, especially an environment that teaches them the skills they need to spread their wings and fly away! And you need to serve your community by being a spark for good.”
“I've learned that people want to help, and are super generous with their time, talent and treasure,” she added. “But they need someone to create and organize the opportunity. The meteorologist in me compares it to being the piece of dust that floats in the air, attracting droplets of water. When there are enough droplets of water attached to that piece of dust, it falls to the earth as a raindrop or snowflake, where it can now do something good like help a seed grow or provide a refreshing drink of water to a thirsty runner!”
Inside the retail space the staff embrace new technologies and products, especially when it comes to helping the customer find the perfect shoe. They still provide gait analysis on the treadmill, but also utilize a 3D foot scanner to better understand the shape of the foot.
“The majority of our customers come into our store for the first time because a family member, friend, colleague, or doctor referred them to us,” Steph said. “Proof that we offer an exceptional customer experience. We love it even more when that customer comes back and joins our training program or comes to an event. Repeat customers are like family!”