In 1999, Blaine and Robin were living in Efland, NC and were in search of after-school care for their oldest daughter, Casey, who was in the 1st grade. They struggled to find something they were satisfied with, and Blaine realized that what they were looking for was what they were not providing as parents. Blaine was working for the North Carolina Dept. of Correction as an Adult Probation and Parole Supervisor. He was a runner and a triathlete, and shopped at the Fleet Feet Sports store in Carrboro, NC. One day he received an email newsletter that they were hiring and he applied for a job. Blaine left his career of 16 years to work at Fleet Feet Sports part-time, and be home in the afternoons with their two daughters, Casey (6) and Madison (3). Robin claimed that Blaine was a changed man overnight. He immediately thrived working in such a positive environment and sharing his passion with others who also enjoyed an active and healthy lifestyle. Blaine’s new part-time work hours allowed him time to train and compete in two Ironman distance triathlons.
Blaine became interested in owning a Fleet Feet Sports store; however, Robin still enjoyed her career in banking as a Branch Manager with the State Employees Credit Union in NC. After a couple of years, Robin started thinking about a career change and was willing to explore opening a store. Blaine and Robin approached Fleet Feet Inc., and together they agreed Roanoke, VA would be a great place for a new Fleet Feet Sports franchise.
One big factor in deciding to open a store in Roanoke was that it’s Robin’s hometown. Her mother, stepfather, and sister still lived there and it was important to Blaine and Robin that their children grow up close to and around family.
So, in January 2003, Blaine moved to Roanoke and moved in with his in-laws, preparing to open his and Robin’s own Fleet Feet Sports store. Robin and the girls stayed in NC awaiting the sale of their house while allowing Casey and Madison to finish out the school year there. The store opened in March of that year.
In the early years, Blaine was the store’s only full-time employee, with a couple of part-time staff and Robin working on weekends. Robin worked outside of the store at Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, in the business that her stepfather opened 30 years earlier. After three years, they joined their forces at Fleet Feet Sports and that’s when it truly became a family business.
Robin’s mother, Nancy Ford, has been a tremendous help with Casey and Madison over the years as Blaine’s and Robin’s weekends have been mostly spent in the store. Nancy has been their biggest fan and number one promoter of our business. Robin’s sister, Jane Goode, has worked at Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke since 2007. Her upbeat and fun personality has helped set the standards for the service that people expect when they walk through Fleet Feet Sports’ doors.
Casey and Madison grew up in the store and learned a lot from the family business. They have played many roles: from pricing socks and other merchandise, working water stops for races, all the way to running the register. Madison has served as store greeter and has done such a great job in this position that she has actually helped to train new staff. Casey loves working with apparel and merchandising the entire store. Casey completed an internship with Fleet Feet Inc. in Carrboro, NC this past summer. She is a senior at Virginia Tech majoring in Fashion Merchandising and Design. Madison is a First Year at the University of Virginia.
After 13 years, Blaine and Robin still love what they do. They have seen their business grow, having gone through one building expansion and then moved to a new location two years ago. Their staff now includes 12 full-time employees. This year, Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke training programs will have over 600 participants and over 100 volunteer mentors who truly make these programs possible. Blaine and Robin have also fallen in love with the Roanoke Valley. They enjoy all of the outdoor opportunities that are available and appreciate that the greenway system continues to grow. They are also impressed that Roanoke is embracing and becoming an outdoor active lifestyle destination. Together, they remain passionate about being active and helping our community to become a healthier and more active place to live. Thank you Roanoke, and the community, for allowing us to do what we do every day!