Josh, my boss, HATES to toot his own horn. Literally, I’ve never heard him speak a word of praise for himself.
So, if this makes it to the website, I’m going to toot it for him.
(*trumpets sound: doo doo doooo)
I want to take you all back to the time when I did not work for ARC. I was training to run my first marathon and my favorite pair of pink Brooks Adrenalines pretty much burned out their adrenal glands. For the record, I know that shoes aren’t living things, but personification for the win!
Anyway, by my husband’s recommendation, and the fact that the store is only minutes from my home, I made my way to the store. From the outside, it looked small and unassuming. In all honesty, I expected a limited selection of utilitarian shoes boasting practicality and purpose with no nod to fashion (hey, it’s important to me!).
However, I walked into a very contrasting interior. Lights bright but not glaring, air fresh and flowing in the open layout, a feeling of ease and calm…chill the kids say. Best of all, sneakers in a kaleidoscope of colors adorned wall after wall. Stunning.
I expected to look around on my own, find a shoe I liked, and seek out a salesperson to retrieve it for me. Then like every other shopping experience, I assumed I would go slide my card, sign on the dotted line, and mutter a halfhearted, “Thanks, have a good day.”
That scenario is not at all accurate. Within a minute, Jenna, one of my co-workers and now great friend, met me with bright eyes and a genuinely warm smile. Because of her, I left that store not only with a new pair of running shoes (Brooks Ghost this time. Turns out I have a neutral foot and that shoe is much better for me…come to the store to learn more!!!), but with a heart full of completely unexpected emotion.
First of all, Jenna talked to me. Seems rather trivial, but she asked questions about ME and MY needs. I’m a mom of two; this was a big deal. Shout out to all you moms out there. I know you feel me.
Now back to the story. Jenna evaluated my gait, the shape of my foot, and identified the problems and pains I was having before I even told her. There was no rush in her service, and she carefully chose a variety of shoes that matched my needs. That would have been enough for me to deem it a positive shopping experience.
But here is the part that touched my heart: when it came time to try on shoes, Jenna sat on my level and took my stinky old foot in her hands. She guided my foot into the shoe. She tied my laces. I was struck. Why would she do that for me?
Of all places, inside of a shoe store, I felt… Accepted? Worthy? Lovable? I don’t quite have the word for it. But driving home that day, I will admit, I cried a little. I know it sounds dramatic, but this is genuine. I WAS a customer. This WAS my experience.
Now I’m on the other side of the coin. Through an amazing chain of events, God blessed me with the gift of working here and with the opportunity to pay it forward.
Guys, this isn’t a just a store. It isn’t just about shoes. It’s a place where everyone, regardless of how stinky their feet, is welcomed, wanted, and worthy of the best we can offer. We want to help you. We want to make your life better by helping you find a way to move and feel better, be it a new pair of shoes or just some good old human to human interaction!
I’m not saying I want you drive home crying, but I do hope you leave having truly experienced Josh’s vision for The Appalachian Running Company. Good things happen here.
Well friends, we have reached the end of this tale for now. Josh, I hope you don’t mind too much.
Love to you all; God is good,