Like the City of Boston, Marathon Sports remains strong nearly one year after the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy.
The specialty retailer of athletic footwear and apparel will always be associated with the heroism and strength of human spirit that was displayed on that fateful April day.
Marathon Sports’ flagship store at the finish line on Boylston Street was heavily damaged during the blasts, and was used as a triage center to treat the wounded. Video footage and stories of the store’s employees springing into action to assist victims was seen worldwide.
When members of the Boston Red Sox placed the 2013 Word Series trophy on the marathon finish line during the team’s victory parade, Marathon Sports employees were invited to join the team in the singing of “God Bless America.” Recently, a piece of concrete from last year’s finish line was presented to store management.
Two months after the marathon bombings, the nearly 40-year-old company’s eighth store opened its doors at Mashpee Commons, albeit a bit later than anticipated for obvious reasons.
Earlier this week, David W. Corbett, manager of the Mashpee store, reflected upon the past year, but emphasized the importance of moving forward with the 118th running of the Boston Marathon just 10 days away.
Mr. Corbett, a veteran Marathon Sports employee who now lives in Falmouth, did not compete in the marathon last year, but did take on an unofficial run from Framingham to Kenmore Square. “I almost continued to the finish line and to the Boylston Street store because they always block off an area for employees to watch the race. I can’t tell you why I didn’t. You play it back a million times in your mind. Everyone has a story from that day, it seems,” Mr. Corbett said.
This year, Mr. Corbett will be working at the Boston Marathon Sports and Fitness Expo the day before the race, and on race day will be in Hopkinton picking up “clothes that runners toss at the finish line.” Backpacks have been prohibited at this year’s race.
“The weekend before the marathon is like our Super Bowl. Even if you’re running the race, you have to work. If you don’t get jazzed up for this weekend, then you are working for the wrong company. As a company, there is still a lot of sadness, but at the same time we are trying to move forward and make this one of the best races ever,” Mr. Corbett said.
Marathon Sports’ Mashpee location has been very well received during its first year of operation, Mr. Corbett said.
“I think a lot of people come in here because they know who we are and what happened, but I don’t believe we are a tourist destination. People come in because of our services and to get a proper fit for athletic footwear,” he said.
While its first summer was “insane,” he said that its base of year-round customers has been impressive. The store sponsors a “run club” that meets every Tuesday night at 6:30, even during the most adverse winter conditions.
Appropriately, Mr. Corbett says that the store’s strongest sellers are “Boston Strong” apparel, of which a portion of each sale is donated to The One Fund Boston. The store also carries official Boston Marathon merchandise.
“It’s hard to keep these items on the shelves,” Mr. Corbett said.
When asked what he would tell people who may be hesitant or scared to head into the city to watch this year’s marathon, Mr. Corbett’s answer was swift and to the point.
“This is our race. Come out and enjoy it. Don’t let the people who did this to us ruin the day,” he said.