Ask Mark and Cynthia Lorenzoni about the secret to their success as owners of Ragged Mountain Running Shop, and they’ll tell you it’s all about balance. The pair, who’ve been outfitting Charlottesville athletes since 1982, welcomes 20,000 customers a year to their Elliewood Avenue shop, a place that feels like a combination clubhouse, support group, town square or simply, as Mark’s brother, Peter, told us a few years ago, “a place to gather.”
“We sell shoes,” Mark says. “We work hard at it, and we’ve been blessed to make a good living doing what we enjoy.” But according to Bill Guerrant, who’s been shopping at Ragged Mountain since it opened almost four decades ago, Mark and Cynthia do much more than sell shoes: “They’re knowledgeable because they’re runners. And they take what they know, their own unique, personalized experience, and use it to help their customers. They value friendships and their customers, and they feel obliged to put you in the right shoe. They take it personally and feel responsible if you’re not happy, if you’re uncomfortable or dissatisfied.”
Over the years, Mark has served on 18 boards and he puts together weekly free running clinics. Both he and Cynthia organize races for a wide variety of local charities, and Cynthia is the longtime volunteer race director for the Women’s Four Miler, which has raised millions of dollars for the University of Virginia’s Breast Care Program.
“I get a great deal of satisfaction in that this town is small enough that you can make change and be involved in things that help people’s lives,” Mark says. “We’ve been honored and fortunate where the business has thrived, and we invest back into the community.”
Best of the Best
At a certain point, it’s just redundant to keep recognizing some folks—everyone knows they can’t be beat. Which is why, in 2016, Best of C-VILLE began honoring the Best of the Best: businesses we felt set the standard for all of the winners you just read about in the preceding pages. In 2018, we asked readers to do the job. Find all of the VIPs below, then turn to page 186 to see this year’s top honoree.