As a locally owned store, we find pride in connecting with our customers—from the walkers and workout fanatics to the runners and triathletes. To help you get to know us better, we're introducing a "Meet the Team" series featuring our wonderful owners and staff that make our in-store atmosphere so special. These features serve to bridge the gap and make those faces you see in the store every day that much more familiar.
We kick things off with owners, Wade & Julie Pannell. As you'll discover below, they opened their first Fleet Feet in 2012 with their first store in Spokane, but have built a network now spanning three states and nine stores and a fitness community that brings the Pacific Northwest closer together.
How did you get started in run specialty (or at Fleet Feet)?
Julie: Fleet Feet was a part of our story getting back to fitness and we wanted to share that with others. In 2012, we left our day jobs and opened our first store in Spokane. We’ve since grown to 9 locations around the Pacific Northwest.
Wade: I first started working at Fleet Feet Bozeman in 2008 after a 15 year career in real estate development. I needed a change of pace and was considering owning a Fleet Feet Franchise, so I thought it best to actually work in a store. I loved the atmosphere and the ability to help others meet their goals, heal their aches and pains, and change their lives. In 2012, Julie and I decided to take the leap and open our first store in Spokane, WA.
What do you do outside of Fleet Feet?
Julie: I enjoy running and biking and time with our grandson. To relax, I like to play the piano and bake!
Wade: I grew up cycling and working in bike shops, so I still love to go for a ride every once in a while. Triathlon has been a passion for many years. I enjoy puzzling, playing games with the family, spending time with my grandson, and a weekly date with Julie. Much of our life revolves around the stores, so there isn’t a whole lot of time outside of Fleet Feet :)
What do you enjoy the most about Fleet Feet?
Julie: I love helping others accomplish goals they never thought possible.
Wade: I love the culture of our store and the opportunity we have to Change Lives Daily. I have never worked in an environment where almost everything you do daily is about helping others enjoy life more fully. That is what Fleet Feet is about. Sure, we sell shoes, socks, insoles and great apparel and accessories for the active and running lifestyle, but we do it so that our customers can enjoy their lives more fully. Every customer comes to Fleet Feet to find the best Fit for their lives. We get the opportunity to be their guide.
What’s your go-to shoe and why?
Julie: There are so many - my latest favorite is the NB 860.
Wade: Well, I usually won’t answer this question because what works and fits for me, may very well not work and fit for others. But since you ask, the Newton Gravity is still my go to running shoe, but I love the On Cloudventure for trail and daily wear, the Hoka Bondi for the long run, and the list goes on. I have a favorite fit, function or style from every brand. That’s what happens when you get to try on every shoe in the world and find the ones that fit you the best.
Do you have any exciting race stories or big running accomplishments?
Julie: I ran the NYC Marathon this past November. It was a beautiful day! It was my first marathon since my heart attack so it felt like a big accomplishment.
Wade: Well, for many, their best story would revolve around the largest accomplishment—The Ironman, Boston, their fastest 5K, or whatever pinnacle moment that comes to mind. My favorite story is the last 200 meters of my Boston Qualifying race, the Montana Marathon. The race finishes on the track at Senior High in downtown Billings. You enter the track with a little over 200 meters to go. The race was a gun start with a clock timer (no chips folks) so I had no real idea what the time was, but I knew I was close. If you have ever finished a marathon, you know the feeling of complete exhaustion toward the end, but I knew I had to qualify. As I rounded the south end of the track, there was an RV parked on the infield that obscured seeing the clock. As I passed the end of the RV, I saw I had a chance! Mustering every bit of effort left in my body, I made the 80 meter surge to the finish line and strained to get under the qualifying time (back in the days when there was a fixed time). I had to finish within the 3 hour and 15 minute window. My finish time—3:15:87. A mere .13 seconds under the qualifying mark after 26.2 miles of running. When I realized I made the time, I fell to the ground, and started crying in a mix of pain and exhilaration.