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Written By Rob Smith - December 01 2023
To everyone who's ever believed in and supported us,Hi, it's Rob here - April 2015. I’ll never forget the day we opened Vancouver Running Co. I was naive, eager, elated, tired, and curious all at once. It all started from a thought I had years earlier that the running shop just seemed to lack something. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on what it was at the time, but I knew for me, buying a pair of running shoes wasn’t much different than going grocery shopping. It lacked any substance outside of a transaction. In fact, I would often run my shoes far past the point of being packed out and ready for retirement because I just couldn’t see myself mustering up the energy to drive across town to go shopping for shoes again. That opening day in April was amazing. I wanted to meet every single person that came in. I wanted to learn where they were from, how they heard about us, how I could help…all of it.One month after we opened, we put ourselves out there for the first time in the most nerve wracking way possible; we invited the community to come run with us. I convinced two friends to volunteer their time as Run Leaders, we posted an invite to Instagram, slapped a start time after shop closing that upcoming Thursday, and waited. That night at 6:15pm 12 of us ran together and at that moment Flight Crew Run Club was born. I can recall every single detail from that early summer sunset run around the Seawall from the awkward first “hellos” to the laughs we shared from start to finish. At that moment, during that first FCRC run, I realized what the run shop up to that point had been lacking for me.Community.A true community of runners I could identify with.What began as a run of eight turned into events with hundreds. Runs grew from weekly 10K’s to the addition of a 3K, a 5K and trail runs. We then began using the power of our collective to raise money for charitable causes, often raising thousands of dollars together to support local food banks and youth outreach programs. We built amazing relationships with our brand partners and began creating together with them; we made collaboration products, brewed beers, flew helicopters, supported the community with experiential events, got up at crazy hours to race moving start lines, alley-cat raced around the city (on more than one occasion) and showed up at folks houses to give them crates full of shoes, just because we knew it would make them smile. And as all this was happening, and our collective was growing and we started making connections and friends worldwide it dawned on me that our community had a life of its own. It couldn’t be stopped. It was a self-perpetuating tornado of personalities, backgrounds, and running abilities that was showing up over and over and over again, because each of those people had also found what they were looking for.Community.Vancouver Running Co. has never been a transaction first business. Sure, we sell shoes, apparel and everything else you need for running. But I never had the desire to leave a legacy of passing interactions rooted in selling you shoes and you returning back to do it all again when it was time for another pair. That’s the grocery store feeling I avoided for years. If anything, we were the grocery store with the band in the middle playing to 10 while we spilled drinks on one another arm-in-arm singing the lyrics by heart, sweating buckets and exhausted from pure joy, all the while the old guard trying to shut us down for causing too much noise.We love disrupting, it’s fun, and exciting, and it confuses that old guard, and if I’m being honest that drives me even more. When you get into that cadence of discovery and it’s an open road of creation and ideation it is a beautiful thing. I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with many people that see it the same way, “why stay put and settle?”. That has no benefit to you, our customers, our community, our team or myself. None of us will grow and discover together - we will just be folks passing by with a wave at the grocery store going about the same day over and over.Forget that. It’s time to “Send it!” (as my son and I often say). Over the past 18+ months we have been discovering and ideating constantly and are finally at the point where we can let you in on what we’re doing. Yes, we are changing our name but for very good reason. We are creating ways for you to learn to run, or grow your love of running, and stay healthy in the process. We want you to feel like you belong, that there is a place for you in this sport whether you’re a single mother, a retired teacher, fresh out of high-school or someone that never thought of themselves as a runner.We are evolving because now is the time to do so. We are evolving because our time spent as Vancouver Running Co. was special, and it was disruptive, and it was heart-filling, and it was full of sleepless nights, and it was stressful. We built, we cried, we laughed, we hugged, we raced, we shared more late nights that I should admit, we truly deeply shared our love for this sport of running, because we are a community of runners and people. We are people that run and are complete when surrounded by community. We are not the name we hold.Vancouver Running Co. is not any one person. That ended the moment that first customer walked in the shop on that sunny April day in 2015 and I asked their name followed by a photo together. VRC is a complex fabric of thousands of people that have influenced, encouraged, supported and built alongside us over the past 8.5yrs. Chapter one will hold an extremely special place in my heart. Chapter two begins with the power of more hearts than I ever thought possible. A team of dedicated individuals pouring everything they have into creating more disruption, more space for everyone and more community in running. We are the same crew (plus more) that you have always known and we will continue to provide you world-class knowledge backed shoe fittings, events that will have you talking for years to come, exclusive products, community initiatives that make a difference for people, and technology. Technology that will enhance your experience with us, help you stay healthy and connected, and part of your community.All we ask is that you come as yourself. We’ll make this sport more accessible, more fun and more innovative. It’s time for you to run as you are.Yours in running,
Rob SmithFounder, Vancouver Running Co.Co-founder, Run As You Are
Congratulations on your new chapter! Very exciting, I love the concept! Enjoy the adventure!
unreal! let’s do this thing!!
Loved reading this and love the new name and beginnings. Best of luck and love to you and Becky!