Charm City Run was named the 2016 Running Store of the Year on Dec. 1 at The Running Event trade show in Orlando, Fla.

Charm City Run has earned a reputation as a local hub for running in northeast Maryland. Known for its approachable staff, great training programs and community spirit, the Charm City Run store in Bel Air, Md., has established itself as a place that engages and serves all levels of runners from all walks of life.

The business (which is now five stores strong) was started by Josh and Kara Levinson in 2002. They had been living in Austin, Texas, and were huge fans of the RunTex stores there. While visiting family back in Baltimore during a Thanksgiving holiday, Kara told Josh “this place needs a RunTex” and a light bulb went on. It wasn’t long before Josh began researching the business and put their house on the market with the intent to return to Baltimore and open a store. (He went so far as to volunteer at RunTex to learn how to fit runners into shoes and better understand the day-to-day operations of the business.)

Now, almost 15 years later, Charm City Run has been recognized as the best in the business.

“We’re not just selling shoes, we’re in the business of changing lives, and that’s what we enjoy doing,” Josh Levinson said. “We’re here to help people in our community. That’s what we’re all about, and that’s what makes a loyal customer and a loyal community. I’m someone who enjoys leading a team, and if we’ve done anything right, it’s that we’ve found the right people who are full of integrity and honesty and caring. That’s how we’ve built our reputation.”

Charm City Run is known for its smart business practices, great customer service and its commitment to its local community. The Charm City crew puts on numerous races, organizes training programs, gets behind local school programs and pushes their passion for running and fitness to everyone who walks through their doors. Also, Charm City Run donates 1 percent of its sales to an environmental, educational or physical fitness non-profit mission in the state of Maryland.

Every year, Competitor magazine partners with Running Insight trade magazine to identify the 50 Best Running Stores in America. It starts with readers nominating their favorite shops on Then there is a rigorous evaluation process, which includes runner nominations, mystery shopping to assess customer service, credit ratings from vendors, and assessments about local programs and community commitment.

“The staff of Charm City Run emobodies everything that is great about locally owned running stores,” said Competitor’s editor-in-chief Brian Metzler. “They share their passion of running by taking the necessary time to help each and every customer. Running is for everyone and Charm City Run makes everyone feel like they belong.”

RELATED: The Top 50 Running Stores in America for 2016

Other 2016 running store award winners named at The Running Event included:

2016 Canadian Running Store of the Year
Runners Soul, Lethbridge, Alberta

Ubuntu Award for Giving Back
Naperville Running Company, Naperville, Ill.

Just Do It Award
Burke Beck, Red Coytote Running & Fitness, Oklahoma City

Never Stop Exploring Award
Varsity Sports, Mandeville, La.

Here are the 2016 finalists for the 2016 Running Store of the Year award:

Charm City Run
Bel Air, Md.

Fleet Feet Sports
Brentwood, Tenn.

Hanson’s Running Shop
Grosse Pointe, Mich.

Tortoise & Hare
Glendale, Ariz.

RELATED: Top Shops—Past Winners of The Running Store of the Year Honors

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