FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Two New Canaan natives have opened up a new athletic shoe and apparel store on Fairfield’s Post Road.
The Authentic Athlete takes up half of the building that was formerly home to Zera Musicland and was put together carefully say storeowners Chris Sanford and Steve Seelert.
It’s meant to be a place where newcomers to athletics don’t feel overwhelmed but also cater to the 12-month athlete, selling everything from shoes to athletic tape for all ages. The store also has almost anything kids need for sports, including a wide range of cleats.
The goal they had was to make the store as user friendly as possible, so that customers didn’t feel as though they were being pushed toward the highest priced shoe in the store.
“We’re all about customer service and we want to help everyone, but it needs to be shopable as well,” Sanford said. And they spent a lot of time finding a building that fit what they wanted to do. “We don’t want it to be abrasive,'' Sanford said.
For Sanford, this shop is his chance to do athletic retail right after spending 15 years doing it someone else’s way.
“I just always wanted a store of my own,” Sanford said. “I wasn’t happy in the position I was in so it was time to do it my way.”
The Post Road storefront fit their needs perfectly they said, and once they got into the space they moved quickly.
“Once we found the location, it took four months,” Seelert said. “This is a great space, because of the parking lot in the back.”
But what really sold them on the space was its proximity to Fairfield’s downtown area and the fact that the closest general athletic store was 15 minutes away in Westport.
“It’s a huge void in Fairfield,” Sanford said. He added that for such a large market, it was missing such a “simple” aspect. “It just seemed like a no brainer.”