The chance to become part of a Shaker Plaza resurgence did anything but scare Jeff Fisher, who co-owns .
"That probably sealed the deal in this location," he said. "The potential of revitalizing this area. You look at population density within three miles of here, and it's off the charts. The number of cars that go through Warrensville (Center Road) and Chagrin (Boulevard), it's staggering.
"To me, it's exciting."
The running, walking and hiking gear store recently celebrated a year in business at 20150 Van Aken Blvd. During that time, Fisher says he and co-owner Kelly Green have worked to become a fitness resource to customers. In return, Fisher believes those customers have welcomed the store, expressing the hope that Shaker Plaza gets more tenants that withstand the early struggles that accompany many small businesses.
"They're interested in this shopping center and area coming back," Fisher said. "They know they need stores that are well-rounded and can support a lot of people.
"You never know what's going to happen when there's construction, but if (the Van Aken District project) does what it's supposed to do, if the city is able to pull off some of the things they're supposed to pull off, this could be a very, very cool area in a couple of years."
Cleveland Running Co. carries Puma, Adidas, Montrail, Merrell and other running shoes. Fisher says he hasn't shied away from the ultra-light "five finger" shoe style, despite criticism by some in the running community. The store also sells sportswear, bags, socks and more.
Fisher was the manager at another area running store for more than two decades. A couple years passed in between his departure from that store and the 2011 opening of Cleveland Running Co.
"I guess I didn't realize when I left how much the clientele was part of my social network," he said. "You watch families grow, you develop relationships, and I missed that. I missed the customers."
If there's anything Fisher hopes changes in year No. 2, it's the ability to secure accounts with more shoemakers.
"I don't mind calling these guys out — the Nikes, the Asics, New Balance," Fisher said. "They basically don't think that Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, University Heights is a different market from Lyndhurst or Pepper Pike, which is where my other competitors are.
"It's four miles on a map and that's all they look at."
Fisher believes those accounts will come along with more customers. The company has been trying to attract more with an increased presence on Facebook and Twitter.
Cleveland Running Co. will also be a partner in the 5K Race and Nature Hikes on Saturday Sept. 22 at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes.
For more information on Cleveland Running Co., visit http://www.clevelandrunning.com/ or call 216-991-2000.
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