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Q&A with Colorado’s Entrepre-Brewer Colin Anderson

Colin Anderson opened the first beer and running retail operation in the U.S. called Shoes & Brews, with 20 beers on tap, including their own craft brew.

A former collegiate track runner, Colin Anderson fondly missed chillin’ with his teammates after a long weekend training run at Road 34—a bike shop in Fort Collins, Colo., that also served food and a wide range of craft beers. That gave the now 26-year-old the idea to open a running shop with a similar dual-purpose hang-out vibe. Although it took a few years, Shoes & Brews opened its doors in July 2014 in Longmont, Colo., as the first beer and running retail operation in the U.S. In addition to being a full-service running store, it has 20 beer taps serving up microbrews from some of Colorado’s top breweries and it also brews about 100 barrels of its own craft beers every year. 

VIDEO: A Running Store with 20 Beer Taps

How did you know this idea could work?

Cyclists and runners are similar in a lot of ways, and I wondered, “Why hasn’t someone tried this for a running store?” I think that being the first at anything is a big challenge because you don’t have an example to point to. I asked people what they thought or if they thought it was a crazy idea. Enough people thought it was a good idea that it was worth taking the leap.

What makes Shoes & Brews unique?

I think it’s difficult to hang out for long periods of time in a traditional running shop. When you can go to a place and hang out and do something aside from buy shoes, it really helps to foster that vibe and the community aspect of running, and I really think that’s what we’ve created. Some of the people who were originally with us at our weekly fun runs have been doing races together, some have become friends and some are dating. Most of them didn’t know each other until they met at Shoes & Brews.

What were your biggest concerns?

We were worried that we would deter high schoolers coming in and parents with young kids, but we definitely wanted to be able to service those segments of the running market with a good running store. In the end, it hasn’t been a concern and we never got a negative vibe from anyone, but I think it’s largely because we purposely separated the two sides of the business and tried as much as possible not to have a bar atmosphere.

Have there been any surprises?

I think the biggest surprise is how interested people have been to drink the beers we brew onsite. I thought it would be cool to brew our own beer—we brew just under 100 barrels of beer a year, which is a pretty small amount and makes us a nanobrewery—but I didn’t think it would be much of a revenue driver or have a lot of demand because there is so much great beer in Colorado.

What is your favorite beer?

My favorite beer that we brew is the Hef-Yeah! hefeweizen, but I also really like Pearman of the Gourd, a seasonal brew we make every fall with pumpkin and pear in the mash.

What’s your next running goal?

My 5K PR on the roads is about 14:55 and I would like to get that a little bit lower  before I get too old.

Any plans for expansion?

We have definitely looked into it and talked about it, but for now we’re really trying to do what we do as well as we possibly can.