By: Nelson Kramer
Athletic Performance, a shoe store that has been around for 44 years, is a staple for all Los Gatos residents, with a wide range of shoes and athletic clothing. Initially located down the street from its current location, Co-founder and Co-owner Willi Harmatz opened the shop in 1978 with his business partner Brad Armstrong. Around the same time, Harmatz started coaching the Los Gatos High School track team.
In 2003, Willi resigned as coach to focus more on his store, staying committed to helping his community find their love for running by hosting events like the Los Gatos Dammit Run and The Great Race for 40 years. He reigned as the main race director once COVID-19 shut the events down, but still sponsors The Great Race through his store. He also supports the Jolly 10k, a race to raise money for fentanyl overdose awareness.
Harmatz and his son, Tyler Harmatz, now run the store together, continuing to base their business on family and supporting their community. Despite facing adversity and setbacks during the COVID lockdowns, the store stayed partially open, with most of its business coming through online orders. In an interview, W. Harmatz stated, “COVID changed everything.” Further explaining how his store operated during the lockdown, W. Harmatz detailed,”the whole community was shut down for about four months, so people would still call needing shoes. They would come through the back door, and I would give them the shoes. They would call, and I could deliver or mail them out.”
The store takes pride in being part of the Los Gatos community, especially being connected to Los Gatos High School and its athletes. W. Harmatz produces a mini book annually emphasizing athletic achievements in track and field, showcasing photos and records broken, and mentioned how the store started carrying special shoes for wrestlers after students from LGHS came to him looking for them. The store also offers a 20 percent discount to student-athletes from LGHS for all training shoes.
When asked about the store’s future, it seems that the duo is going strong. Eventually, W. Harmatz expects to hand the keys over to his son, saying “He loves it; I think he’s going to stay at it. It’s good for the community, keeping the business going.” T. Harmatz seems to have a passion and a strong connection with the store as he has been a Co-owner for the past 4 and half years.
The Athletic Performance Shoe Store is a must-visit shop in Los Gatos. Look out for the annual Great Race, planned by the Los Gatos Rotary Club and sponsored by Athletic Performance. Find all the newest shoes in their store on their website.
(Sources: athleticperformancelg.com, losgatosrotary.org)