How did we come up with the name?
So you think A Snail’s Pace is a funny name, do you? How about Loeschhorn’s for Runners? Yep, that was our original name back in 1979 when Dave Reynolds decided to try the running store business!
If you were a runner in Orange County in 1979, Loeschhorn’s is a name you probably recognize. John Loeschhorn established the very first running shop and social running club in Orange County in the latter ’70s. His original store in Costa Mesa was a Mecca for runners from all over Southern California. Our 1979 Fountain Valley store–originally located on Warner Ave directly across from Mile Square Park–was the 4th Loeschhorn’s store in OC and the very first franchise store.
With a lot of ups and downs during the ’80s, running shops everywhere were going out of business and the decade closed with the Fountain Valley Loeschhorn’s as the last remaining Loeschhorn’s for Runners store. With no other Loeschhorn’s stores to associate with, it was time to try a new name.
With the FV store lease up for renewal at this time, we decided to change the name AND the location at the same time. We relocated the store two miles west to its current location on Warner Avenue. However, coming up with a new name was a little more difficult than finding a new location!
With the relocation looming and struggling to come up with a name, the (true) story goes that Dave was out running on a damp, drizzly morning and racking his brain for some kind of a unique, catchy name.
His run was interrupted, the story goes on to say, by an exodus of what appeared to be hundreds of snails migrating across the wet sidewalk–as snails will do on rainy mornings. Forced to tiptoe at half-speed, he chuckled to himself, ‘Geez, I’m having to run at a snail’s pace’.
That was the lightning bolt. ‘Hey, what about that for a name?’ he thought. Well, it took a while for the name to grow on him, but at a loss for a better alternative, the name went up on the sign and business cards were printed, and there was no turning back.
Soon, however, the name became not only accepted, but even better received than Dave had ever dared to hope. The name was greatly enhanced by the clever logo design created by Joe Pearson of Action Shirts in Huntington Beach. It also helped that the name was non-threatening, so walkers and novice runners didn’t feel so intimidated when they came into an actual running store for the first time. And, most people appreciated the humor in the mildly self-deprecating name.
It seems, sooner or later, most runners come to realize: In the big scheme of things, we’re ALL snails!
How Dave met Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson was training for his first Ironman in 1992, and joined up with a group of runners doing the famous Spyglass run in Newport Beach; a 12 mile run starting at 5:30am every Friday.
Of course, you have plenty of time to talk about stuff on a 12 mile run, so Eddie asked Dave what he did for work. His response – “I own a running shop.” Eddie, not sure he had heard Dave correctly, asked him to repeat himself, as he had never heard of a running shop. Dave laughed, explained what the did, how cool it was to “make a living” doing what he loved. Eddie’s next question was “CAN you make a living doing that?!” to which Dave laughed and replied, “not really, but it’s a lot of fun.”
A few months passed, and the two continued to run together every Friday morning. Eddie was training for his second event, attending the Fire Academy at Santa Ana College, bartending on the side – and began thinking of a career change. After asking Dave to write a letter of recommendation for a position he was applying for at Big 5 Sporting Goods, Dave offered Eddie a job at the shop, stating up front that he couldn’t pay much but could give him a lot of hours.
The first day Eddie stepped into the shop, he saw the camaraderie between the staff and the store patrons. Dave knew every patron, and most knew him by name.
This wasn’t retail, it was family. Sharing stories of accomplishments, failure, long runs, short runs, long runs that turn into short runs and the opposite, track workouts, PR’s traveling to races, racing locally – it was all positive, life changing, and Eddie wanted to be a part of it.
The Running Boom
With business picking back up in the 90’s after a rough run in the 80’s, the need for a second location grew quickly. With many of our customers commuting from South Orange County, the second A Snail’s Pace opening up on April 1st, 1997 in Laguna Hills, CA. Integrated into the store was a New Balance concept shop, designed to satisfy the growing demand for New Balance width-sized athletic shoes.
Pleased with the success of New Balance and the concept shop in Laguna Hills, A Snail’s Pace entered into a license agreement with New Balance to open a concept store in Newport Beach. New Balance – Newport Beach opened on June 1st, 1999, and was the 17 New Balance concept store in the nation.
Today there are over 160 in the US. Still growing, A Snail’s Pace saw the need to serve runners in North Orange County. A Snail’s Pace Brea opened on August 1st, 2000, which incorporated a distribution center in the back half of the shop for all A Snail’s Pace stores.
In the fall of 2001, A Snail’s Pace opened a 4th location in Pasadena at the Paseo Colorado, and in 2004, our second New Balance store opened in the growing city of Carlsbad, bringing the total number of shops to 6.
The Growing Team
In December of 1999, Joe’s mom stopped in to ASP Fountain Valley. After picking up a new pair of track spikes to put under the Christmas tree, she noticed the “Now Hiring” sign in the front door. Eager to get her son out of the house, she brought home an application and bugged him every day, for 3 weeks, until he finally completed and submitted his first job application. In March, 2000, Joe began working part time during his senior year of high school.
After graduating from Fountain Valley High School and attending UC Irvine on a track and field scholarship, Joe still loved working in the shop and helping customers. Always looking for new things to do, Joe began reaching out to local high schools to cultivate team orders and launched A Snail’s Pace e-commerce site in 2005.
After noticing Joe’s commitment to the company during his college days, Dave and Eddie promoted Joe to manager at New Balance South Coast Plaza in April, 2006. In 2009, he became a shareholder, and was promoted to General Manager in 2011, to assist Eddie with day to day in-store operations. In 2011, he also married his wife, Katie, whom he met while she was working at A Snail’s Pace in Brea. Currently, Joe is the Vice President/COO of A Snail’s Pace, after purchasing a larger share of the company in 2014.
With the rapid growth of the business, Dave and Eddie needed help keeping up. Tiffany joined Dave in the office in June 2000 helping with accounts payable and payroll in her spare hours between raising 3 boys and working as an RN at CHOC. A year and a half later, something had to give, and Tiffany left the hospital to take on a larger role with the company, managing human resources and additional accounting duties – eventually taking on an assistant of her own. She currently oversees many of the corporate responsibilities, working alongside Eddie and Joe to keep business running smoothly.
In 2015, Tiffany brought her martial arts training and passion for teaching women’s self defense into the shop by creating Ninja Runner, a self defense class for women focusing on practical techniques women can use to defend themselves in a variety of situations that may be encountered in everyday life or while out on a run. The hands on practice on “bad Bob” and our volunteer “attackers” has become a popular seminar in each of our locations.
In November 2004, three months after opening the Carlsbad store, we moved NB Newport Beach to it’s current location at Orange County’s largest mall – South Coast Plaza. The move allowed us to double the size of the store. Following the recession in 2008, NB Carlsbad closed it’s doors in May after a significant decrease, leaving ASP with five healthy stores.
In June 2011, we moved our Pasadena store to it’s current location in Old Town Monrovia, and in November 2012, we moved Laguna Hills across the 5 freeway to Mission Viejo.
The Next Chapter
In January 2014, wanting to travel more, work on his golf game and spend more time with his wife, Carol, Dave retired and sold his shares to Eddie, Tiffany and Joe. Since then, Dave and Carol have welcomed their first grandchild and are loving retired life.
Fountain Valley and Brea have undergone store remodels, with new walls, paint and fixtures matching the newer locations in Monrovia and Mission Viejo.
In May 2018, A Snail’s Pace was named a Top 50 Running Shop in America for the 10th time in 11 years*, and as been finalist for Best Store in America twice.
*The 50 Best Awards were not awarded in 2017.
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