Fleet Feet owners Lisa Taggart and Jim Gothers make fostering community as important as selling shoes
The fall of 2008 was not a great time to buy a business, let alone expand one. But, that’s just the step husband and wife Jim Gothers and Lisa Taggart took, buying The Runner’s High in downtown Menlo Park and renaming it Fleet Feet.
“I’d worked at Runner’s High for eight years before becoming a sales rep for Mizuna,” Jim says. “I missed making connections with people everyday, so we took the leap.”
The pair met in a Marin bike shop a bit over 20 years ago. Jim followed Lisa to Iowa City when she moved there to attend grad school with the goal of becoming a writer. Back in the Bay Area, she was a travel editor at Sunset for 11 years. She’s also written a couple of books, including The Bigger the Better, the Tighter the Sweater and Women Who Win: Female Athletes on Being the Best.
Married now for 14 years with a four-and-a-half-year-old son, the two have brought community, as well as sales to Fleet Street, adding frequent guest speakers and organized training groups.
The latter has been a particular pleasure for Lisa. “People have told me the training groups changed their life,” she says. “Last year, we did our first marathon training. One of the participants, who is very successful in business locally, was training for the first time at age 50. When he finished, he burst into tears and told us that he really didn’t think he could do it, but thanks to the training group, he did.”
With all the footwear advertising, many customers come in thinking they want one particular shoe. “That’s a mistake,” says Jim. “One particular shoe doesn’t work for every body. We start by asking people what their goals are, what they want to accomplish. We do our best to make real connections.”
The pair’s newest endeavor is Stand Up 8, a non-profit foundation they started with some customers and members of their training groups. The name comes from a Japanese saying: “Fall down seven times and stand up eight.” The mission is to promote health and fitness opportunities to groups and communities that are underserved, and the first program is a walk/run training program for women Ozanam Wellness Center, a program run by St. Vincent De Paul San Francisco for people struggling with addiction and mental health issues.
Photo by Irene Searles
Books by Lisa Taggart: