Ridgefield Running Company named one of country's top 4 running stores

RIDGEFIELD — For many small businesses, 2020 was a tough year, but for Ridgefield Running Company it was also a successful one.

It opened a Darien location in the summer and was recently named one of the top four running stores in the country by Running Insight Magazine.

“It’s super sweet this year of any year,” said owner Megan Searfoss. “I couldn’t be prouder to be listed in the top four. Part of the reason it’s so sweet is because Ridgefield Running Company worked really hard this year to stay alive in March and April and then to transition into a store that is super safe for people to come into for COVID reasons.”

Since the pandemic began, Ridgefield Running Company has changed the way it looks to follow procedures.

When Searfoss realized there wasn’t really a safe space for her staff without being too close to one another, she took out a dressing room and remodeled the back so employees and customers had more room.

She also took out the entire cash register system, switching to only using iPads. This eliminated the checkout lines, giving the store another 150 square feet to allow for social distancing.

“We kind of like to think of ourselves as the Apple store of run specialty because everything is done on an iPad from data analysis to shoe fitting to checking out,” Searfoss said.

They’ve also moved to more virtual programs, including the Best Running Store held Jan. 27 — a big change the usual conference of about 500 to 600 people as they review the top four stores and then eventually the top one in the nation.

The Ridgefield Running Company also had a virtual market week, a convention that is usually in person, where they met with brands virtually instead.

Searfoss opened her store in 2014 and has only been growing ever since. Ridgefield Running Company was in the top 50 in 2018 and in the top 10 in 2019.

They gained top honors this year though for not only adapting to the pandemic but opening a new location with Darien Running Company in July.

“We built that store out to basically be the same as Ridgefield in that it’s very easy for people to move around, it’s a very easy store to shop,” Searfoss said.

Despite struggling to stay open and making it work, Ridgefield Running Company has donated shoes to those in need.

They provided shoes to nurses at the beginning of the pandemic.

In April, they had a buy-one-give-one deal so that whenever customers bought a pair, a pair was donated to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, providing more than 100 pairs of new shoes. In August, they also donated more than 100 pairs of shoes to the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk for the homeless.

“It was really fun and a feel good sort of thing to know we’re putting new shoes in the hands of people that sometimes don’t have shoes and if they are able to get a shoe, it’s a very well used shoe,” she said.

gmarku@darientimes.com