Ann Ringlein on her bike
Ann Ringlein, Lincoln Running Co. manager, started delivering local orders by bike after COVID-19 made shopping harder for customers. Courtesy photo.

Ann Ringlein wants Lincoln Running Co. customers to know that she and her employees are doing everything they can to stay open and safe during social distancing regulations. That means extending store hours, limiting the number of customers and employees in the store at one time and wiping down surfaces all day, every day. 

It also means adding a twist to the store’s shoe delivery process. 

What used to cost at least $8 to mail running shoes from its location on 12th and Q Streets now costs next to nothing, save for the tubs of Cookie Co. cookie dough that Ringlein straps to her bike when she personally delivers shoes on Mondays. 

She got the idea when she was delivering shoes to some friends several weeks ago. 

“People are sad right now,” she thought, so why not use free cookie dough to cheer them up? Plus, she gets to help out her friends at the Cookie Co.

“Downtown, we just have to look out for each other,” Ringlein said. “We’re more than just individual stores. We’re a little community.”

Ringlein, Lincoln Running Co.’s store manager, started making regular bike deliveries when social distancing regulations forced her employees to change their routines. At the start of this week, she’d already made 75 shoe deliveries on her bike.

Every morning, she checks the delivery requests and maps the route on her phone. Usually, the destinations make a circle and she can reach 6 or 7 houses in about two hours. 

Ann Bauermeister and her husband were two of the first customers to receive the surprise. Bauermesiter has bought her shoes from the Lincoln Running Co. for as long as she can remember, and social distancing regulations haven’t changed that. She wanted to help out the Lincoln Running Co. by ordering shoes three weeks ago, but she had no idea chocolate chip cookie dough would be part of the deal.

“It was a real treat when Ann showed up on her bike,” Bauermeister said.

It’s the prime time to practice kindness, Ringlein tells her employees. 

So when customers call the store, confused or unsure about the online ordering and shoe delivery process, Ringlein reminds her “kids” to be “super kind, super positive,” because customers are used to coming in and trying on shoes.

“It’s just made us better employees,” Ringlein said. “This is really a stressful time for a lot of people, so we’ve got to be really super kind to everybody.” 

Along with cleaning daily, extending hours and cutting costs, Ringlein reminds her young employees that they’re expected to be responsible by staying safe and staying home when they’re not at work. She knows that not every small business has been lucky enough to keep their doors open.

“We all have to just man up a little bit,” Ringlein said. “It’ll pass, but this is what we gotta do right now.”