How Did A Snail's Pace Name Came To Be?
Do you think A Snail’s Pace is a funny name? How about Loeschhorn’s for Runners? Yep, that was our original name back in 1979 when Dave Reynolds decided to change careers and open up a running shop.
If you were an Orange County runner in 1979, Loeschhorn’s is a name you probably recognize. John Loeschhorn established the very first running store 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.
During the ’80s, there were a lot of ups and downs. Running shops everywhere were going out of business. Dave’s Fountain Valley Loeschhorn’s was the last remaining Loeschhorn’s for Runners store. With no other Loeschhorn’s store to associate itself with, it was time to try a new name.
With the Fountain Valley store lease up for renewal, it was the perfect time to change the name and location at the same time. The shop relocated two miles west to its current location on Warner Avenue. However, coming up with a new name was a bit of a challenge, unlike finding a new store location.
The “true story” goes that Dave was out for a run on a damp, drizzly morning, racking his brain for a unique, catchy name. His run was interrupted 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. It took a while for the name to grow on him, but he was at a loss for a better alternative. The name went up on the sign, business cards 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 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 the 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
In 1992, Eddie Johnson was training for his first Ironman and joined up with a group of runners doing the famous Spyglass run in Newport Beach, a 12-mile run that started at 5:30 am 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 and explained what he did, and 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.”
As they both continued to run every Friday morning. Eddie was training for his second event, attending the Fire Academy at Santa Ana College, bartending on the side – he had thought of a career change. After asking Dave to write a letter of recommendation for a position at Big 5 Sporting Goods, Dave offered Eddie a job at the shop, stating upfront that he couldn’t pay much but could give him a lot of hours.
On the first day Eddie stepped foot in 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, failures, long runs, 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
Business picked back up in the ’90s after a rough run in the ’80s, the need for a second location grew. With many of our customers commuting from South Orange County, the second A Snail’s Pace opening took place on April 1st, 1997, in Laguna Hills, CA, integrated within 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 the New Balance concept shop in Laguna Hills. A Snail’s Pace entered into a license agreement with New Balance to open up 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 U.S. and growing.
A Snail’s Pace saw the need to serve runners in North Orange County, which led to the opening of the Brea shop on August 1st, 2000, which incorporated a distribution center in the back half of the shop for all locations.
In the fall of 2001, A Snail’s Pace opened a 4th location in Pasadena at the Paseo Colorado, and in 2004, a 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 by 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 & 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, and married his wife, Katie, whom he met while she was working at A Snail’s Pace in Brea. At this moment, Joe is the Vice President/COO of A Snail’s Pace, after purchasing a larger share of the company in 2014.
With rapid business growth, 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, Tiffany left her RN position 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 shops 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 running. The hands-on practice on “Bad Bob” and our volunteer “attackers” has become a popular seminar in each of our locations.
In November 2004, 3 months after opening the Carlsbad store, we moved New Balance Newport Beach to its current location at Orange County’s largest mall – South Coast Plaza, which allowed us to double up the size of the store. Following the recession in 2008, New Balance Carlsbad closed its doors in May after a significant decrease, leaving ASP with five healthy stores.
In June 2011, we moved our Pasadena store to its 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, Dave wanted to travel more, work on his golf game, and spend time with his wife, Carol. He retired and sold his shares to Eddie, Tiffany, and Joe. Since then, Dave and Carol have welcomed their first grandchild and are loving the retired life.
Our Fountain Valley and Brea locations have undergone store remodelings, with new walls, paint, and fixtures matching the newer locations, in Monrovia and Mission Viejo.
In May 2020, A Snail’s Pace was named a top 50 Best Running Stores in America for the 12th time in 13 years* and has been a finalist for Best Store in America twice.
*No awards were awarded in 2017.