Black Business Spotlight with Jay Hunt and Elite Feet
Here at Mid Strike Magazine we’re all for supporting black owned businesses especially when it comes to brands and or shops that provide us runners with things that matter the most. Runners apparel, footwear and accessories. Jay Hunt and Elite Feet offer just that. A family run and owned business brought to you by Jay and Joy Hunt. This month black owned business spotlights this local Delaware run shop Elite Feet.
MSM: We LOVE to spotlight our black owned businesses especially run shops, for our readers lets get a small intro into who Jay Hunt is?
Jay Hunt: Born & raised in Chester, Pa. Attended, the 1st HBCU, LINCOLN UNIVERSITY of PA where I ran track for coach Cyrus D. Jones. I have a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) Married with two kids, Jason II (Deuce) and Justin. I worked in the Medical Sales/ Pharmaceutical industry for just over 12 years and decided to start my own running store and take a chance as a full-time entrepreneur. Joy and I opened ELITE FEET in Sept of 2015. We are an active Family so that’s the audience we cater to.
MSM: It’s not often that we come across local run shops that are black owned. As runners we’re so used to walking into larger run shops, ordering online from Nike, other sporting goods stores etc. What was it that made you want to open a run store?
Jay Hunt: I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I also believe that it is so important for African Americans to own businesses as opposed to always just being the consumer. I cannot tell you how important it is to have financial freedom so we can invest back into our communities, hire our people and to be the example for others while helping others in the process. I also like to lead by example and I wanted to show folks that African Americans can run a successful business and have outstanding customer service and customer experience. I also was just sick and tired of working for someone else and making them rich and building their company. Lastly, I wanted to be the example for the boys to see what entrepreneurship looks like from a very young age. We include our boys in the day-to-day business operations. I wanted the challenge and I accepted the challenge of creating, owning and running my own business and creating my own brand.
MSM: The running industry has exploded over the last couple of years, races have gotten larger, apparel has gotten more stylish and popular. As you’ve seen this begin to explode and really expand, was this something that you noticed prior to starting Elite Feet?
Jay Hunt: Yes, most definitely. Especially as it pertains to the races. More and more people are getting active and racing whether it’s a couch to 5K or full marathon training, running is on the rise and we’re here for it!
MSM: Elite Feet offers a wide variety of services not just your normal sneaker shop but you also educate your customers on proper shoe fittings using gait analysis and evaluations. Essentially customers will walk out feeling better and more improved than when they walked in. Has your past experiences led you to providing A1 customer service?
Jay Hunt: I cannot stress enough how we completely focus on providing outstanding customer service and customer experience….every time for every customer. We believe that you must educate your customers and most importantly you must provide value to your customers. If you don’t bring value to your customers, you are just another store. This is my personal mantra as a person; however, I have learned through my years in corporate America and throughout my studies in grad school how important customer service is to a business and how to implement great customer service into the culture of a business.
MSM: What is your running background, Is Jay Hunt someone that is constantly on the pavement? I’m sure this has helped you when it’s come to providing information to runners?
Jay Hunt: I have been running track since high school and ran in college. I was a sprinter and long jumper. I am very active! I run at least 3-4 times a week. I compete in 5K races. I usually run outside; however, during the cold months, I’m on the treadmill because I don’t enjoy running in the cold, LOL. It’s the island blood in me. My mom is from Bermuda and lives there to this day.
MSM: What’s very interesting and pretty cool is that you’re very involved in your community in Delaware. For our readers take us through some of your community efforts and things that you have done to give back to the community.
Jay Hunt: We firmly believe in being a business community leader within our community. We have our flagship annual community event called “Cuts for Kids and School Supply Drive”. We give out free haircuts to school aged boys and girls along with book bags filled with school supplies. We have hosted this event for 7 years. We believe a good education is essential to kids especially those kids of color so we want those that can’t afford new book bags and school supplies to have those needed supplies on day one of the school year. We also want to celebrate a new school year and make them know how important school is. We also host the Summer Track Night Program which is a free track style race for kids over the summer break. This event is to keep kids active over the summer vacation and to introduce running to kids.
MSM: I see you guys are also in the community doing various runs. For those in the Delaware area that are interested in meeting up for a group run, where can we meet up?
Jay Hunt: We typically meet every Sunday at 9am at the Level’s Road Park off of 301. We meet at the dog park parking lot. It’s for all runners, walkers, joggers, etc. It’s all about being active and holding each other accountable for some type of physical activity. All fitness levels are welcome!
MSM: 2020 for all of us was a year to quite simply forget. Covid essentially stopped everything where the world came to a standstill. How have you fared this past year and what were some of the things that helped to get you through covid times. Covid arrived but running never stopped, training never stopped. Did you see some uptick with runners?
Jay Hunt: 2020 was one of our best years. Our business did very well. We started our appointment only system. Which allows a 30 min private consultation, we started our online store (www.elitefeet302.com) and we upgraded our website. We also do virtual consultations which allows us to literally do gait analysis for customers all over the nation and world as we did one virtual consultation for a customer in Africa! The virtual consultation was a game changer for us! We also launched our mobile running store! We have a climate controlled 7 x 15 trailer so we can literally pull up to races, gyms and customers anywhere at anytime. It is a great marketing tool too!
MSM: As a runner I have a tendency to literally run my sneakers to the ground (see what I did there). All shoe brands are made differently but when would you recommend would be the right time for us to swap out our sneakers. The normal number we hear is 300 miles but should we really wait for 300 miles until we swap out our shoes?
Jay Hunt: It really depends. Yes, the range is 300- 500 miles depending on your height, weight, the terrain you are running on, type of workouts you do, etc. Also, it depends on what quality of shoe and brand you have. With that said, I would recommend having at least 2 to 3 pairs so you can rotate. If that’s not possible, just track your mileage. Because an easy way to get injured is to wear your shoes too long. If your shoe is over its limit, it will become a “dead shoe” and bad things tend to happen. Plantar Fasciitis, Knee Pain, Chin Splints, Back Pain, etc.
MSM: For runners such as myself how can we continue to support Elite Feets and stay up to date?
Jay Hunt: Like our FB Page and follow us on IG @elitefeet302 check out our website and online store at www.elitefeet302.com. Consider making a purchase from our online store. We have lots of stuff so I’m sure it’s something on the site for you. If you are local, make an appointment and stop in. Also, please share our info with your network. That really helps us out.
MSM: Any last words that you’d like to share with our readers?
Jay Hunt: We are one of the few, maybe the only independent African American Running Specialty Stores in the country. Give us an opportunity to earn your business. We appreciate the support and we will be in Atlanta as a sponsor for the RACE. Hope to see all of you there!