The Running Well Store opens third location in downtown Mission

Kathy Gates, founder of The Running Well Store, opened her third location in the KC metro area — this time in downtown Mission.

The latest addition to downtown Mission isn’t just a shop for runners.

Kathy Gates, founder of the Running Well Store, says her new location on Johnson Drive is for anyone who wants to take good care of their feet, whether they’re running, walking, working or playing. In fact, by the end of a shopping experience, staff can fully understand their customers’ goals, aches and pains, and paces.

The shop opened in the former Vintage Mission space last week.

“We even see people from the Ford plant,” said Kathy Gates, founder of The Running Well Store.

The store had a soft opening Friday, Aug. 3. The grand opening for the new shop is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at 6009 Johnson Drive. The third location brings her staff to about 35, including “quite a few” coaches and a physical therapist.

“While, yes, we service runners, it (also) gives us a very in-depth knowledge of injuries and footwear that is applicable to walkers, nurses who are on their feet all day, guys at the Ford plant on concrete all day,” Gates said. “That’s why we came up with the tagline, ‘The place for every pace.’ It was actually from a runner who said he felt that way about our group runs.”

“It’s about being on your feet, active and healthy,” she added.

The store’s group runs are free to the public, as are the sample sips of Nuun (a less sugary version of Gatorade). The first group run for the Mission location begins at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 16.

Among the athletic footwear for sale in store are workout clothes and gear, including Garmin devices that track fitness activity. Space at the back of the store features live model devices, a treadmill and a meeting space for group runners.

Gates found the best spot for her third location in downtown Mission after shopping here a year ago at Flatlanders on Johnson Drive. She was looking for ski gear to wear during her trip to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.

“When I went to Flatlanders, I just thought, ‘Wow, this is a really neat part of town,’” Gates said. “I went to the bar and I got a drink, and I went to Flatlanders and just really liked the area. It felt right.”

As a runner herself, she had found a gap a few years ago in the health and fitness market for runners in the Kansas City metro area. Then she found Sports Medicine Metro Walk and Run, formerly owned by Bob Lafferty, who gave her some insight on starting out and eventually sold his store to her.

The Running Well Store’s first location in the Northland, replacing Lafferty’s store, opened in 2013 at 6106 NW Barry Road in the Northland. Gates opened another location in 2015 at 418 SE Highway 291 in Lee’s Summit.

Then she found a market gap for runners in Northeast Johnson County.

“I didn’t want to build the business model stealing from other competitors,” Gates said. “I wanted to look at (a) market that hadn’t been served.”

Gates comes from advertising, with experience in New York City and at VML in Kansas City. The work, while interesting, “didn’t feel right” to her, so she started her own venture of making products for runners.

Unlike her past life in advertising, a running-based career truly fulfills her dream as an entrepreneur helping others to reach their own goals.

“I work eight times harder and I’m probably 1,000 times happier because I’m doing what I feel like I’m supposed to be doing,” she said.

The Running Well Store has been named one of the 50 best running stores in the country four times by Competitor Running Group.