Francisville: Running Store Looks to Integrate with Neighborhood

Claire Hewitt, an assistant coach at St. Joseph's, is one of the store's managers.

A lot of work goes into the selection of a location for a store. Prediction of profits, rent and crime are all variables that need to be considered. While looking for its foothold, Fairmount Running Company, an offshoot of Jenkinstown Running Company, chose to open its store in a locale that was full of its target demographic –runners.

Fairmount Running Company
The Fairmount Running Company, located on the border of Francisville and Fairmount, offers a variety of merchandise and expertise.

Fairmount Running Company, which opened last summer, is located at 2023 Fairmount Ave., and offers a variety of products, including footwear, running apparel and accessories, such as socks and sunglasses. Meanwhile, the staff consists of a combination of Division-1 track coaches and former collegiate runners. The store is situated right on the border of Francisville and Fairmount, an area that’s slowly developing into a runner-friendly neighborhood, store manager Claire Hewitt said.

“The neighborhood is figuring out how to be more accessible to all types of people,” Hewitt, an assistant coach at St. Joseph’s, said. “We’re here to be a specialty running store in an area that’s right next to the Art Museum. It’s one of the hot bed running areas of the city. The neighborhood is moving a little bit. It’s pretty young and there’s a lot of stuff going on.”

While a strong running presence within the community was a main selling point for the company, there was also a simpler reason for the location — the area lacked a running store and therefore lacked competition.

Francisville is quickly becoming a runner’s haven.

“The specialty running store business has grown a lot in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas in just the last two or three years,” Hewitt said. “This was an area that wasn’t right on top of [another store.]”

In smaller neighborhoods, such as Francisville, stores tend to become part of the community by simply being there for an extended period of time. As a relatively new store, Fairmount Running Company has struggled to make as big of an impact on the community as it would like. In order to become more of a fixture within the community, the store has developed a partnership of sorts with the Fairmount Running Club, a local organization that formed in 2003.  While the two remain separate entities, the club starts its weekly group runs from the storefront and sometimes returns to the store for post-run gatherings.

Claire Hewitt, an assistant coach at St. Joseph’s, is one of the store’s managers.

“[Becoming involved within the community is] our big goal right now,” Hewitt said. “It’s interesting that people are still popping and saying they just found us. Being well known by the rest of the community is definitely one of our major goals.”

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