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Obituary: Mark Wachter, Founder of On The Run


Mark Wachter, who founded the San Francisco-based specialty store On The Run, died on March 11. Born in 1954, he immigrated to the United States from Poland as a child with his sister and parents. Wachter founded On The Run during the U.S. running boom in the 1970s and became known as the shop’s resident “shoe genius.”

Mark had been working at his sister’s clothing store prior to opening his own store. He got the idea to start his own store after a shopping trip to purchase his own pair of running shoes where he realized the salesperson knew little about feet or running shoes. Using the principle of “not settling” when it comes to people’s feet and well-being, Mark transformed his once modest shoe store into a leading specialty retailer in the Bay Area. On The Run was honored with Footwear Insight’s Gold Medal Service Award for Outstanding Customer Service multiple times.

At On The Run, his sales associates are trained to biomechanically evaluate specific foot issues and match shoes to specific individual needs. Over the years, Mark also designed his own brand of orthotics, imported from Poland and Germany. And he served as a trainer for footwear and foot health for the San Francisco Police Department.