The History of Sneaker Factory

In June of 1978, the Sneaker Factory first opened its doors in Millburn, New Jersey and made its first sale:  a pair of Etonic Street Fighters!  Owner Dean Shonts was an accomplished runner with a wide circle of friends, and word spread quickly that Sneaker Factory was the place to go for running footwear and apparel.

From the beginning, Dean was committed to supporting races and giving people reasons to run.  In our first summer, Dean started the Sneaker Factory Summer Series in South Mountain Reservation. Over the years, highlights include The New Jersey Waterfront Marathon, which served as the 1988 Men’s Olympic Trials, and the Volvo Midland Run. Current events on the calendar include the popular President’s Cup Night Race in downtown Millburn and the Lord Sterling Swamp Devil Run in Basking Ridge. The Sneaker Factory is involved in putting on and sponsoring dozens road races and triathlons in NJ. These races take place in many parts of the State of New Jersey including, Basking Ridge, Newark, East Brunswick, Madison, Summit and Maplewood just to name a few.  Our commitment to racing continues to this day, and in 2011 we will be involved in over 100 events statewide.

After 27 great years, Dean decided to retire, sort of.  He sold the store to friend and customer Mike Conforti, who came to work at Sneaker Factory to learn the business and the art of shoe fitting.  Mike was an avid runner and triathlete, but he also brought a strong business background with him.  Dean stayed on part-time, lending his guidance and experience, as he continues to do to this day. Over the next few years Sneaker Factory saw progressive changes, attracting many new customers and acquiring all of the best product lines. 

In 2009, Mike realized that the Sneaker Factory was more than just a store - it was a culture and a brand.  He decided to expand that influence westward into an underserved area of New Jersey, opening a second Sneaker Factory store in Basking Ridge.  The new store exemplifies the ideal running store:  a modern shopping environment, an incredible selection of all the best brands, and a friendly staff comprised of knowledgable and well-trained running enthusiasts.  Open the front door, and the first thing you'll notice is a track running the length of the store, a symbol of our heritage in this sport.

Of course the story doesn't end there.  Sneaker Factory will continue making history for years to come.  Next up?  In March of 2011 we will be opening a new Sneaker Factory at the Jersey Shore, at Pier Village in Long Branch.  Please drop by any of our stores to say hello, stick around a while, and see what makes Sneaker Factory the center of running culture in New Jersey. 

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