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Fleet Feet, YellowJacket head to the Armory

Sister companies Fleet Feet Sports Inc. and YellowJacket Racing & Fitness Inc. are on the move-to the Culver Road Armory, where they will be an athletic component of the varied tenant mix including retail, office space and arts and culture.
"I can take a brand like Fleet Feet, which is … a national brand, but it’s a local license holder. That brand is powerful enough to stand next to a national brand like Arhaus and be as important (and) have a product that’s got equally as much depth and relevance to our market," said Fred Rainaldi Jr., managing partner of Whitney Baird Associates LLC, an affiliate of Rainaldi Real Estate that owns the property.
"This high-design environment is going to protect a brand like Fleet Feet …, make them future-proof and let them grow."
The complementary companies will be joining D. Kent & Co., Trata: the Restaurant at the Armory and Alex and Ani Inc., among other retailers at the Culver Road location.
"It’s like a dream come true. Not only do we have a bigger space; we have the community room, we’re going to have parking for everybody, and we have Cobbs Hill (Park) as our playground right next door, so it’s really the best of all worlds," said Kim Smith, brand manager for Fleet Feet.
The businesses are set to open their doors in shared space at the armory in February. Fleet Feet sells running gear and related products; YellowJacket puts on races.
High-end retail "is something that we deserve," Rainaldi said. "Nothing at the Culver Road Armory is going to be modified to fit the Rochester market; we’re a primary market.
"We’re a community that is used as a test market by many brands, Wegmans included, because we’re very sophisticated, we’ve got a very diverse demographic, and we deserve all the things that you find everywhere else in major markets."
The new location will offer customers 9,000 square feet of retail and meeting space, up from 4,500 square feet at the current Brighton location.
"I’m just so excited to be able to do more for our customers and the community," said Ellen Brenner, co-owner, vice president and chief financial officer for Fleet Feet Sports. "That’s what we’ve always done. That’s what we’ve always been about, and now we will have the space and the ability to do so."
YellowJacket Racing was founded in 1998 by David Boutillier. Fleet Feet Sports was incorporated in December 2003 but was opened the following July by Boutillier and Brenner, co-owners and spouses. The companies have been housed in the same space and also have a location in Greece.
The move was more than two years in the making.
"Our lease happens to be ending next year, so it’s just a timing thing," Brenner said, "which is why we have been in close communication with it for so long and we’ve always known what was going to happen. It was just a matter of when are we going to pull the trigger to actually do it."
Serving nearly 5,000 participants per race for their biggest events, the companies needed the new space to accommodate Rochester’s runners and walkers.
"It’s more than just retail," Rainaldi said. "They’re an integral part of the quality of life that we’re adding through all these different tenancies, and we couldn’t be more excited about having them join the team."
YellowJacket Racing owns 35 races, and Fleet Feet Sports and YellowJacket Racing support some 145 races each year.
"Ultimately I’d love Rochester to be one of the fittest cities in the United States," Brenner said. "We’re just excited we’ll be able to do more things for the community-help people get fitter, provide one of the most unique retail experiences you could possibly have."

11/15/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email [email protected]


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