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Featured Stakeholder Series with Kim Zabel

Kim Zabel is a true supporter of the community and visitors to Downtown Rochester. Her efforts do not go unnoticed and you will feel her care and support upon entering her store.

What is your favorite thing about Rochester?

I appreciate the connections and accessibility Downtown Rochester offers its community and guests. People can get where they need to go through a variety of transportation modes. Subways and skyways all provide walking access and our bike trails provide paths for cyclists and runners. The public transit system is continuing to improve as well.

What do you think is the best kept secret about Downtown?

The cycling and running trails. In fact, there’s a great trail right outside the back door of the Running Room that leads to the Downtown Loop and Soldier’s Field. Many of the people who visit our store from out-of-town tell me they are impressed with our trail system.

What do you think the biggest change will be to Downtown in the next 20 years and what do you look forward to most?

My hope is that we will become a more diverse community, one that is open to greater inclusiveness.

Why did you decide to work for this company?

I started working at the Running Room after completing my coursework at the Mayo Clinic for certification in health and wellness coaching. My father died of cancer two years ago, and his death reshaped my life. I reassessed what I really wanted and made some changes. I sought out a career in which I could help people achieve their health and fitness goals. I was already working at 125 LIVE and at the Rochester Area YMCA as a Zumba instructor. Then, I earned certifications to teach different group fitness classes after that. Now, I am also a Livestrong instructor at the YMCA for cancer survivors. The Running Room position was the next logical step because it allows me to help people improve their lives through fitness.

What has been your most memorable moment(s) since starting to work at the Running Room?

A few weeks ago, I had a guest who was limping into our store on sore, tired feet. She had just finished another 12-hour work day at the Mayo Clinic on shoes that were causing her great discomfort. I got her outfitted in a high-cushioned shoe, and we both hoped that they would provide comfort on her next shift. Several days later, two of her co-workers visited our store based on her recommendation. She told her friends that her new shoes had changed her life! She was back on her feet and no longer limping through her work day. Most people wouldn’t think a pair of shoes could do that for a person, but they can – and they do.

Why is it important to you to be operating from Downtown Rochester?

We have established connections to other businesses who share our values, so being in close proximity to them is huge for us. We are only a few blocks from the Mayo Clinic, we share a parking lot with the YMCA, and we neighbor many of our local trails and parks.

Operating in Downtown, what has it meant for your business?

Many of our guests are visiting the Mayo Clinic from out of town. They often stop in looking for a good pair of walking or running shoes during their stay here. We wouldn’t have the opportunity to serve them if we weren’t also in the Downtown area. Is there something that would surprise people about your business? Two things: First, I build my store team with people who have compassion and empathy for others. Most people can become knowledgeable about running and fitness. That is a teachable skill. The ability to empathize, to truly care about another person’s struggles, however - that’s something innate in a person. I actively seek this out. I want everyone on my team to be the kind of person who listens to our guests and truly hears what they are experiencing. That’s the first step in helping someone else – that’s the first step in healing. Second, we are more than just a shoe store for runners. We work with people who need a comfortable shoe for work, for walking, for standing, for getting through their day without pain. We sell fitness accessories, nutrition, apparel, and electronics, and we work with people who participate in a variety of fitness activities: cycling, cross-fit, boot camp, group fitness, triathlons. We are runners, but we are so much more than just running.

Anything else?

Everyone here at the Running Room has a desire to connect with our fitness community. We offer a Wednesday night free Run Club for that purpose. Runners, experienced or novice, even walkers, can join us for an hour to run/walk. It’s a great way to meet people who share some of the same fitness goals. We are also establishing connections with the cycling community. We even have a bike rack in the store - and many of our employees (including me) ride on a regular basis. We want a community where both runners and walkers can meet up and join us on the trails, and where cyclists can visit our store for electronic gear or nutrition. We hope to continue to build these connections in our community and make long-lasting friendships in the process.