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Exploring Life & Business with Josh Levinson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Josh Levinson.

Hi Josh, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in Baltimore and attended Gilman School. I received a BA in Economics from Washington & Lee University in 1993. I played football and lacrosse in high school and was Captain of both teams in college. Running was introduced to me in 5th grade by my soon-to-be stepfather who was an avid runner and participated in local events. Running started as a way to spend time with my mom and grew into a way to stay fit for the other sports I was playing and life. While I have participated in many events short and long, running for me has been a church for as long as I can remember. It centers me, focuses me, and gives me peace. Some people meditate, some people pray, some benefit from therapy, I run.

After graduating from Washington & Lee University, I moved to Charlotte, NC to begin a career as a commercial banking officer. That lasted two years and I returned to Gilman School in Baltimore to teach and coach. I loved that life and could have been there forever but I had one more move to make and it was to Austin with my wife Kara to attend the University of Texas -Austin MBA Program. Running was a foundation of our life together and when we moved we started running at “the lake”.

There are many paths around Town Lake and we ran there every weekend. There was a running store called Run-Tex that provided free water and Powerade on the lake and Kara suggested that we buy our shoes from them. I was introduced to running specialty through Run-Tex. The place was magical. Everyone was in a good mood. It attracted people from all walks of life. It was ever-present in the community and the owners’ kids were always in the store interacting with the staff. I took note of it as a special place.

When I graduated from UT I went to Dell Computer for 2 years and then a software start-up which was not a good fit. When Kara and I attempted our first marathon we did everything wrong. I wanted to do another and Kara bought me a training program at Run-Tex. I loved it and loved the community. At the end of 2000, the Ravens won the Super Bowl and we had our first son Ben. It was a good winter. On a trip home to Baltimore before the holidays, Kara and I were running on the NCR Trail and she said “Baltimore needs a Run-Tex.”

I spent the next six months working at Run-Tex and putting the steps in place to move back to Baltimore to open Charm City Run. We opened our doors in April 2002.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Anyone that says small business is a smooth road is a liar. The largest challenges for Charm City Run have been related to COVID-19 and overcoming unsuccessful stores. I love people and consider it a strength. There are always a few staff issues along the way but overall we have attracted and retained a special group of humans, which has made that a very small challenge.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Charm City Run?
Charm City Run is a running and walking specialty company. We have six retail locations throughout Maryland in Timonium, Annapolis, Bel Air, Columbia, Frederick, and Fells Point/Harbor East. Charm City Run Events manages, directs, and times 100 endurance sporting events in the Mid-Atlantic annually.

We have created 20 Charm City Run Events. We produce and own as well as manage those events. Lastly, Charm City Run Training coaches 2,200 runners a year to cross finish lines ranging in distance from 5K to ultra-marathon. Our ties to the Baltimore and Maryland communities are very important to us. Our Live.Give.Run Foundation has donated over one million dollars to local non=profits and raised an additional $500,000 for the first responders of Baltimore City through the Run to Remember.

Visitors come to Charm City Run to be fit in the perfect running/walking shoe. We measure for fit, inquire about goals, gain an understanding of injury history, and perform a gait analysis before deciding on a set of shoes to try. We also offer the best in fitness and athleisure clothing as well as accessories to keep you hydrated and safe. At our Charm City Run Events, we want all participants to have a great experience and want to come back. Our Charm City Run Training Coaches help runners prepare for races and cross finish lines.

We hold our runners accountable, keep them motivated and hopefully inspire them to do something that they never thought was possible. Training is powerful. The Live. Give. Run. Foundation supports education, helping those that need a hand, saving the environment, and providing access to living a healthy lifestyle through running.

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Be authentic and true to who you are. There are some rules. Financial discipline is important. However, when leaders start to manage based on something they have read or because someone else successfully did something a certain way, they are on a dangerous path.

If you do something you truly believe in, you do not have to sell it. I believe in the power of the run. Always be in it for the long game. I would rather be here in another 20 years vs “winning” today.

Pricing:

  • Most shoes are $140
  • Carbon plated shoes start at $200
  • Shirts and shorts are in the $30-$80 range
  • Socks $15
  • GPS watches $300

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Ian Johnston and Connor Clark

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