Harsh winters in the midwest isn’t exactly where one might picture a running mecca, but Minneapolis, Minnesota has consistently been named one of America’s fittest cities, placing second in the 2018 rankings by USA Today.
So it’s no question that Bekah and Jeff Metzdorff landed a good spot when they opened Mill City Running on the banks of the Mississippi River in this exercise-friendly city.
“I really started running in college and fell in love with the sport fairly quickly,” Jeff said. “I always felt like I had a calling to work at, and potentially one day own a running store. I was lucky enough to find a spouse who had a similarly crazy idea.”
This July the Metzdorffs are celebrating five years of business with the store, which they’ve enjoyed seeing grow from five runners at a weekly run to now having sixty-plus runners on a regular basis.
“We were fortunate to have many friends and family supporting us in those early days,” Jeff said. “We're eternally grateful for their support, specifically in the store's infancy.”
The store today has close ties to a charity called Mile in Mile shoes, which brings together residents of Minneapolis with diverse backgrounds through the power of running. Based in homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities, MiMS is as a catalyst for community-building, boosting health and wellness, building leadership and self-efficacy, and spurring personal and social action within the non-homeless community.
Though a running store by definition, Jeff and Bekah aim to keep their shop evolving.
“We want you to walk in and not know you're in a running store,” said Jeff. “We want our service to be the friendliest, the selection to be the most unique, and for you to leave excited and inspired. We're often times looking for inspiration outside of running. Seeing what's trending in boutiques and shops that aren't necessarily associated with running or athletics. There are just so many fresh takes out there, why limit your inspiration to just one type of retail.”
Regardless of a customer’s fitness ability, Mill City Running strives to build connections with each customer as they continue to build their community.
“The majority of customers that walk into the store lead off by saying 'well I'm not a runner',” Jeff said. “There is no threshold to being a 'runner' if you've run at all, you're a runner and we'd love to help you.”