Update: Gary Smith Sells Easy Runner to Fleet Feet Inc.

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 1:45 pm  

Gary Smith, owner of Easy Runner in Little Rock, said Wednesday that he has sold his store to Fleet Feet Inc., billed as the nation's leading franchisor of running specialty stores.

The formal acquisition took place Wednesday, Smith said in a news release. A purchase price was not disclosed.

Smith, 71, opened the state's first running store in 1976. He opened Easy Runner in 1996. Smith also founded the Firecracker Fast 5k, now a Little Rock Fourth of July tradition. He will remain with the store through the Little Rock Marathon next month. He'll work with the 2013 Firecracker on a consultant basis, he told Arkansas Business on Thursday.

Smith said he has no other business plans and that Fleet will continue on as a sponsor of the Firecracker race.

"It has been my good fortune to have grown a business as the sport of running grew," Smith said. "I have had an amazing group of employees, and we have been passionate about helping our customers achieve their goals."

Smith, a native of Lepanto and a University of Arkansas graduate, said that Noelle and Sean Coughlan, long-time Fleet Feet Sports employees, will become operating partners in the store. He said owning a store has been "a lifelong dream of the couple," who has more than 10 years of experience in the specialty industry. 

"It is a privilege to continue the amazing legacy of Gary Smith," Jeff Phillips, CEO of Fleet Feet, said. "Gary has been a fixture in the Little Rock running community for decades and we will do our best to honor him by continuing to provide a health and wellness resource to the community and an amazing experience for the customer."

Fleet Feet, based in Carrboro, N.C., has 99 locations nationwide.



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