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Business Profile

Fleet Feet

A decade or so ago, Wade Pannell sat down to lunch in Bozeman, Montana with a good friend who was also a pastor and mentor to him.

“We were having a good conversation, and he just said to me, ‘what are you doing with your body?’” Wade remembers. “He and I had been cycling buddies and loved to ride together, but it had gotten to the point I was 60 pounds overweight. He called me out, in a gentle way, and I needed it.”

Thus began his journey back to fitness. His first run wasn’t a feel-good experience. “I had to take a few breaks before I reached mile one,” he says. “My busy career as a real estate developer had given me this excuse to neglect my health, and I couldn’t believe how inactive I had become.”  

But he kept putting one foot in front of the other, and his progress has spanned all the way from gasping for air that first day to completing an Iron Man Triathlon. During those early years, he found himself frequenting Bozeman’s helpful local spot for the shoes and apparel he needed, all the way from weekend warrior to performance athlete. It was a place called Fleet Feet Sports.

Fast forward to today, and Wade and his wife Julie are here in Spokane, with two Fleet Feet Sports locations of their own and five years of supporting locals in their quest for fitness. On a given day, you’ll find them investing in their team of employees, partnering with the medical community to help relieve pain for athletes and workers, and doing outreach to engage with their number one target audience: sedentary adults who could potentially have their lives changed by exercise.

“That’s the reason we got into this business,” says Wade. “It is such a joy to play a role in someone’s life changing for the better. The primary place we see those stories begin is through the No Boundaries training class we offer.”

One of a variety of training groups offered by Fleet Feet Sports, No Boundaries is a “couch-to-5K” program similar to what Wade went through all those years ago when he found running. Trail running, race training, and high-performance groups are offered as well, but this one is near and dear to the Pannells’ hearts. Relationships form, movement happens, and with some hard work and dedication, a new outlook on health and confidence is achieved.

“We had one woman I know whose start was to drive here for the program, but never get out of the car,” Wade recalls. “That was her first step. She finally did get out, and she’s doing great. There is no judgment or intimidation here; our team and our customers really are at all running levels.”

For those who just want to shop for shoes, Fleet Feet Sports still wants to show extra love. Their fit process has been thoroughly developed, and every team member knows exactly how to find someone the perfect shoe for their foot, gait and activity.

“We have mail carriers, night-shift retail workers, and triathletes who shop with us,” Wade says. “If you’re on your feet, you need a shoe that is going to help your body move efficiently, without causing you pain.”

And even if it’s just helping someone find a shoe for work, removing the root cause of chronic back pain is a way to change someone’s life as well.

For Wade, Julie, and the team, it’s all part of the Fleet Feet story.

INB is proud to partner with local businesses like Fleet Feet Sports, and takes inspiration from them as they live their purpose. As a lending partner, community event sponsor, or a provider of full-service banking services, INB wants to play a role in helping people move toward a better future.