Photos and memorabilia of Pre and the “Golden Era” of 1970s American distance running line the walls of most running stores in the country. Few places can claim the participatory and influential heritage in that era of Chet James and Judy Albrecht’s Super Jock and Jill. Currently operating in two locations, Redmond, Washington and the original store in Seattle’s active Green Lake neighborhood, Chet’s mother Laurel James opened the doors in 1975. When Chet was growing up, he was coached by a good friend of Prefontaine, who regularly stayed at the James household when in Seattle.
In the early days, the customer base was mostly adult males looking to get faster and the activities in the store and the community revolved around performance. Now, the store focuses on being inclusive and serving everyone, no matter their age, goals, or activities. The 2.8 mile Green Lake loop is perhaps the most popular running, walking, roller skating, and biking routes in Seattle, which Super Jock and Jill helped cultivate by doing timed runs around the loop when the store first opened.
Now, the store donates footwear to local student athletes who can’t afford them. They also put on clinics focused on fitness at local business. Yet this doesn’t detract from the great deal of energy and passion they give to every customer who walks in the door, with constant thought on how to improve the store and customer experience looking years ahead.
Viewing every customer as an opportunity to positively influence their life and activity, James knows how important his and every other run specialty shop in the country are to the industry and the sport. “Specialty footwear stores are the tip of the iceberg. We are at the pinnacle of identifying a direction or product of what's valid and useful for the consumer. We may not be the largest money makers for the brands, but we have the most influence in validating that product,” he says.