For Julie Francis, co-owner of the new store Sound Runner, selecting the right running shoe is an art. For prospective customers, Francis measures their feet, observes the wear-and-tear of their shoes, watches them run, and asks about any possible pains and injuries before selecting the proper footwear.
Sound Runner, a store that caters specifically to runners, opened last Friday at 264 York St. next to J. Press at the former site of Krauszer’s convenient store, which closed its doors two years ago.
Inside the newly-redesigned store — which features cedar flooring and wall posters that evoke a lodge in the Canadian Rockies — consumers can find shoes, athletic apparel and accessories for all their running needs. Sound Runner carries popular brands of running shoes including Adidas, Asics and Brooks.
“I am an avid runner and have been in retail for a long time,” Francis said. “I thought it was time to put both passions together and open a store.”
Director of University Properties David Newton said he was excited about the new store in the Broadway district of New Haven. University Properties manages the York Street property which they leased to Sound Runner.
“[Bob and Julie Francis] have the personality and the expertise to be of value to the community — to Yale and to New Haven,” Newton said. “We also place priority on independent entrepreneurs — [The Francises] are committed to operating hours that are helpful to the community, including times late at night and on Sundays. We certainly are mindful of making sure that the Broadway district is a shopping destination for college students and others.”
Sound Runner not only sells running products, but promotes running in the community. At Francis’ two other stores in Branford, she leads three running sessions a week for both beginning and experienced runners, in addition to one walking session. For the New Haven store, Francis is planning her inaugural run for Dec. 15, although she said she has not decided on the exact route. She is promoting the upcoming running session to her customers.
Francis and her husband Bob first opened the first running store in Branford in 2001. When they decided to open a second store in Branford, Francis said they wanted to cater to participants of other sports.
“We noticed an increase of people coming in, people who did hiking, yoga, kayaking,” Francis said. “We wanted a store that catered to all active lifestyles.”
The New Haven Sound Runner is Francis’ third store, and she said she hopes to bring her products and running expertise to the students of Yale and the greater city community.
Newton said the new store should be complementary with other business in the Broadway shopping district, such as Trailblazer, which also sells sporting products.
Just days after opening, Sound Runner already has a steady trickling of customers.
“I needed running shoes, and I wanted to check [Sound Runner] out,” customer Alison Frick ’07 said. “I thought it was cool that [the store] was independently-owned. [Julie Francis] was uber-enthusiastic.”
Julie Francis’ inaugural running session, free and open to the public, will be held on Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. and will start in front of the store.