Fleet Feet at Biltmore Park Town Square was filled with customers checking out shoes and other outdoor gear on a recent Friday afternoon.
Clarke Babcock, operating partner for the store, and his staff were helping them make selections for running, hiking and general wear.
“Everyone is very educated with the products we have,” Babcock said. “We sit down and talk to customers to help them get the right fit.”
Some customers come in looking for shoes to help ease foot pain they are experiencing, Babcock said. He and his staff help not only runners, but anyone who wants to be more comfortable with foot wear, he said.
Using a special measuring machine, a foot scan is done to determine the size and type of shoe that would be a good fit for a customer.
“We’re not just pushing things out the door,” Babcock said.
When customers purchase shoes at Fleet Feet, they have the option of returning them within 60 days, he noted.
Although many runners do come into Fleet Feet to purchase shoes, the store has a wide selection of products for general outdoor activities such as hiking, he noted.
In addition to shoes designed for running, the store has a good selection of trail shoes, including some that are waterproof.
Active wear including jackets, shirts, shorts and pants are available for purchase along with socks, insoles, sports bras, hats and gloves. Water bottles, sunglasses, outdoor watches, snacks, foot salve and massage rollers also among the many items found at Fleet Feet.
Fleet Feet also offers outdoor activities through its current Fall Trail Series for trail runners. The next event is scheduled for Oct. 20 when participants will run on the Mountains to Sea Trail after meeting at the store.
As the new manger of the Asheville Fleet Feet, Babcock is working in a field that appeals to him and is in a desirable locale for him and his wife, Erin. The couple recently moved here from Fayetteville, where Babcock had been managing another shop in the franchise group.
“We definitely feel at home here. I’m really excited and happy,” Babcock said. “I missed the mountains.”
Both were familiar with Asheville and attracted to its mountain beauty. And this past spring, the couple was married here.
Before coming to North Carolina, Babcock had lived and worked in Colorado for several years at a store geared to runners.
Besides their mutual love of the mountains, both Clarke and Erin are experienced runners who participate in competitive events. He is preparing to run in an upcoming marathon in Chicago and his wife, a long-distance runner, is heading to Raleigh soon to run in a 100-mile event.
Babcock became a runner about 10 years ago as a way of moving toward a healthy lifestyle.
“One day I looked at myself in the mirror, and then (decided) to start running,” he said.
He also began working at a running store in his home state of Michigan before moving to Colorado.
Fleet Feet is a national franchise with independently owned shops throughout the country. The business began in 1976 when two friends, Sally Edwards and Elizabeth Jansen, both 28 years old, opened the first Fleet Feet in Sacramento, California.
Fleet Feet is at 8 Town Square Blvd. in Biltmore Park Town Square.
For more information, visit the website at https://www.fleetfeet.com/s/asheville/ or call 828-676-3536.