I love shopping local, and it is my hope that runners have access to great running stores. In my region, we have a local running store with five locations, as well as two different ones each an hour away. What makes a running store great? Let’s review.
Great Running Stores Offer A Varied Selection
A great running store has a wide selection of shoes, but also socks, fuel, apparel, recovery tools, and accessories. As a customer, you want to see a variety of the major shoe brands, ranging from neutral through stability, and maybe some specialty brands as well. A customer should never walk out with just shoes, though, so the ability to pick up new socks or fuels is a huge plus.
Great Running Stores Hire Patient and Informed Staff Members
The staff at a great running store is patient and informed. They listen to your training habits and concerns. Then they work with your to find the shoes that feel the best, and work within the parameters of your needs. Great run specialty customer service reps are well educated in the shoes and products they sell, and know how to make recommendations that serve their customers. They are kind, inclusive, and helpful, making everyone feel comfortable, from first-time to veteran runners. All runners of all abilities are welcome in great running stores, and everyone is made to feel like a superstar.
Great Running Stores Offer Complimentary Gait Analyses
Before recommending shoes, the staff at great running stores will offer a free gait analysis. Customers can run on a treadmill, through the store, or in some cases, step on a computerized mat, to get an idea of how their feet and legs move in the running process. These little runs can be recorded to show the customer how they move and why certain shoes may work better for them than others. It’s an interesting process that helps staff and customers alike make the right decisions for your feet.
Great Running Stores Have A Generous Return Policy
Running shoes and gear are expensive, so a great running store has a generous return policy. Customers never like t feel trapped in a purchase, especially a pricey one, so offering an out is a good idea. Sometimes, shoes just don’t work, and that should be ok. Great running stores usually offer a 30 day return policy for shoes in like new or re-sellablle condition. Make sure you know your store’s policy before you buy, and wear them on the treadmill until you’re sure you want to keep them.
Great Running Stores Offer Extended Services
Beyond the retail, great running stores offer training groups, clinics, and extended education. Different brand reps often come in to local running stores to share details about their latest and greatest products. Customers get to trial those items, which is a great time to check out and ask questions about new gear. Clinics about form, recovery, fueling, and training are great to help educate local runners looking for more information on the sport. Group runs hosted by running stores help create community, which is so valuable for runners and stores alike.
At the end of the day, great local running stores can offer so much more than online or big box shops. While not everyone has access to one, it’s worth it too check out your nearest running store if it’s available.
What makes a great running store, in your opinion? Do you have a local running store you love?
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We have a little running store here in Cape Town that I love. They gave us excellent advice on what kind of trail running shoes are the best for the local terrain.
However, I don’t know if they have extended services, like training groups and clinics. I will need to ask them! Thanks for pointing that out, Jenn!
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It would be cool if they did!
Lisa @ Mile by Mile says
We have a local running store around here with a bunch of different locations that is really great. And we have another with just one location that is nice too. I don’t really go to them just because of getting my stuff from Brooks. But they also organize races and I made sure to sign up for some virtual ones to support them. When I won a prize I went in to pick it up and made sure to do some shopping.
Yes. Our local “chain” (five locations of a local store) is a huge race company for the area. I am always signing up for their races.
I think a good store also offers running programs and organized group runs.
That’s how I started running.
I often buy shoes and fuel there.
Otherwise u fortunately it’s cheaper to buy online.
It can be cheaper, but I’ve found it depends. However, if I’m getting added value, I will try to support the local store.
Kimberly Hatting says
We have a local shoe store, and they do offer some running shoes, but I’m leery of how much they truly know about running (but I do buy all of my SmartWool socks from them). There’s a fantastic running store about an hour away, though, and I’ve gotten to know the owner really well. The Brooks rep was there, a a few years ago, for one of their group runs. That’s when I first tried the Adrenalines…and those have been my main go-to shoe ever since. We need to support our local running stores!!!
Yes. There are some stores where staff education isn’t a focus, and that’s too bad. It’ really a fascinating industry, so I would hope the owners would want everyone t one up to date on everything.
Our local running store is pretty good. They also have loyalty rewards. Plus they’ll let you run a bit outdoors while trying on shoes.
The staff, however, are hit or miss. Some are great others are meh, & most of them are younger & make the mistake of judging you by your appearance. So they see a curvy, older woman & just assume she’s a walker or doesn’t really run much. Until they actually start talking to me . . .
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I hate to hear that about the staff. A judgmental run specialist can really ruin the experience for someone.
Deborah Brooks says
I do appreciate the running stores with experienced staff and a great return policy. WE used to host many events at our local store precovid and they were a great opportunity to try new gear. I hope that comes back soon!
The events were always so great.
Not that you don’t know this already, but I’m over the moon that we just got Fleet Feet because it’s all those things. JackRabbit was where I marathon trained out of, an it was pretty good. Loved that they kept our stuff, opened early and I tried to always shop there, but their service was… middling.
The staff and ownership can make or break run specialty. Fleet Feet is great. I would love to have one closer.
I judge a running store heavily by how its employees treat customers who don’t look like the stereotypical runner. When I was postpartum and a bit heavier than usual, I had much different experiences at a running store than I usually had.
We have a running store near by that also has beer on tap so I’m intrigued to try that!