“Community Responsibility”. Those two words can be found in the footer of every page on the Charm City Run website. So, without knowing a single thing about this company or what they have to offer, they succeed at getting the point across that community is at the forefront of their business model.
So then, for starters, what is Charm City Run? I’ll start by asking a few questions. Are you passionate about running? Do you hate running, but want to learn the right techniques in hopes of finding an unexpected enjoyment in it? Are you simply looking for a pair of perfectly fitting sneakers or appropriate running gear? Are you searching for new friends to help motivate you? Do you have a passion for giving back? Well, that’s Charm City Run in a nutshell.
This is a business that offers the support of passionate, well-seasoned runners who love to help people find their way in the running/walking world. If you step into any one of the five stores, you can walk out with new sneakers after being walked through their complementary shoe fitting process, a new training program for any level of experience, new clothes or gear, new insight and advice, and new friends. Charm City Run sets itself apart from the competition by offering these services, and by allowing the entire process to be tailored to your wants and needs.
Since the very beginning in 2002, co-founders Josh and Kara Levinson placed a great emphasis on community involvement, and in their founding visions, they saw the Charm City Run team working to serve three communities; their Customer, their Charm City Run people, and their Place. While all three of these communities are equally important to the business, we’ll focus here on their pledge to serve their Place, Baltimore, MD. It’s no mystery that Baltimore, also known as Charm City, is in need of attention and genuine compassion to help revive it into the city it deserves to be – it’s only right that a business who has taken the Baltimore nickname as their own, be there to fight for it. Every year, Charm City Run organizes events around the State of Maryland, and through those efforts, manages to raise over $500,000 a year for local non-profits. They also donate more than $60,000 a year to local environmental non-profits. In a recent interview with Competitor Magazine, co-owner Josh Levinson said, “…If we’ve done anything right, it’s that we’ve found the right people who are full of integrity and honesty and caring. That’s how we’ve built our reputation.” Among the 49 charitable groups that Charm City Run works with (see full list here), the Baltimore Community Foundation, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Soles for Souls, Believe in Tomorrow, and UMMS are all on the list.
Charm City Run has made tremendous strides from where it was almost 15 years ago; a small, local hub, one-store business operated by a few dedicated people who believed in the mission. While the entire operation has grown exponentially, the pledge to serve their Place, Baltimore, MD has remained a consistent foundation for the business since the beginning. After years of exemplifying hard work and dedication across the board, Charm City Run was recently named 2016 Running Store of the Year by Competitor Magazine not only for the way the business is run in the stores, but for the way the business operates out in the community as well. During his acceptance speech in Orlando, FL, Josh shared, “The local Baltimore community helped build us, so this award is their triumph as well, maybe even more so than ours.” Well said, and well done, Charm City Run! Congratulations on the honoring, and on being a wonderful model for any small businesses out there looking to make a name for themselves based on more than just numbers and figures, but genuine love, respect and care for the community it operates in.