Local Running Store: 3 Secrets Every Runner Needs to Know

Buy shoes and gear online OR shop at your local running store?

The next time you need new running shoes or gear, what's your plan?

  • Whip out your credit card, and wait for a package?
  • Make a trip to your local running store, and go home with the goods?

You might think online is the only way to go, but...

If you haven't been to a local running store recently...or ever...you're missing out on some pretty sweet stuff you'll never get from an online order.

In fact, there’s 3 BIG SECRETS every runner needs to know about shopping at a local running store. And you can’t put a price on this.

In this post, runner Nathan Reyes reveals 3 BIG SECRETS about local running stores that may just change your shopping habits for shoes and gear forever. After all, it's pretty important to find the perfect fit when it comes to something as crucial as your running gear.

Looking for new running shoes or gear? Here’s some advice from runner Nathan Reyes…”Skip the big-box stores and online retailers, and shop at your local running store.”

Meet runner Nate Reyes

I’m “that guy.” You know…the person in the store, coffee shop, or in line at the bank making small talk.

Probably talking a little too loud, engaging people who would probably prefer to be left alone. 

I’m the type that goes out of my way, past two or three pubs, just to have a cocktail at the joint where I know the bartender.

These are some of the first things that popped into my head when someone asked the question…

Should you shop at a local running store?

If you’re a runner, chances are pretty good you belong to a running club, and run local routes, trails and races.

Maybe even cap off some of those local runs at a restaurant or cafe. Yes?

Walk into a local running store (like The Achilles Shop in Cleveland Heights, Ohio), and you can talk to experienced runners (like Nikki Niemeyer and Connie Gardner), get fitted for the right shoe, and try on different brands and styles.

The shop-local experience...

Before I get to the 3 BIG SECRETS about shopping at a local running store, let’s take a closer look at the shop-local idea. 

Here are some things I like most about it:

  • Hashing out a buying decision or pros and cons with the salesperson
  • Knowing the name of the store manager or owner. 
  • Knowing that they have similar passions and interests
  • Being recognized as a repeat customer
  • Supporting local businesses

For some reason, we can all rally around the buy-local idea. I mean, who doesn’t love the Main Street shoppe.

It’s a comforting feeling to see a town square with store fronts open and no vacancies. It signals a strong community and bond to each other...that we will support our own.

But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns

Not all Main Street stores are selling 100-percent locally-made products.

Maybe half operate this way. Most also sell items imported from overseas.

Local running stores fall into this category, and it raises some questions:

  • Why not skip the local running store and shop online where the inventory and selection is the biggest?
  • If you’re price shopping for shoes and gear, can a local running store even compete with online offers?
  • What can a local running store offer you that an online store can’t?

For example…

Let’s say you’re looking for a pair of running shorts with a few requirements like:

  • Moisture wicking
  • Lightweight
  • Form fitting
  • Merino-wool lined
  • SPF-rated
  • Highly reflective
  • Made by a socially-conscious company

Your chances of finding these shorts made by a local running store are pretty small. And the same goes for finding locally-made running shoes.

But this doesn’t mean you should skip the local running store and just buy online.

Why? There’s 3 BIG SECRETS about the local running store every runner needs to know. 

This has NOTHING to do with shopping for the lowest price. And EVERYTHING to do with the buying experience and becoming a better runner.

The 3 Big SECRETS about your local running store:

Nikki Niemeyer chats with co-worker Liam O’Reilly at the Achilles Running Shop in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. The 3 BIG SECRETS you need to know about local running stores. 1. Expertise is invaluable. 2. Quality matters. 3. It’s a community.

Secret #1: Expertise is invaluable

On a recent visit to the Achilles Running Shop in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, I was looking for a new trail shoe. And I had a lot of questions.

The store manager (Nikki Niemeyer) answered every question, and helped me make the right choice (Hoka Speedgoat). And her expertise was invaluable: she had experience running 100-mile races.

  • I tried on all the trail shoes the internet junkies were talking about.
  • I got to talk to an experienced runner with a passion for running, training, racing, shoes, gear and helping others.
  • I was so confident about the trail shoe that I bought, I came back later to buy a road shoe.

Shopping for running shoes or gear? Visit a local running store and ask:

  • What running shoe/gear do you recommend?
  • What’s the shoe like for road/trail running?
  • Is this the right fit for me?
  • What are the best trails or routes for running around here?
  • What races do you recommend?
  • Can you give me some advice on how to train for a trail race, marathon, or just start running?

At a local running store, you can talk face-to-face with experienced runners who live the lifestyle and know how to help you find the perfect fit. And you typically won’t get that online or at a big-box store. My advice: shop local.

Secret #2: Quality matters

Guess what you won’t find at a local running store?

  • Wasted inventory
  • Defective shoes and gear
  • Equipment that hasn’t been vetted by runners
  • The need to paw through shelves of junk or try to sort through hundreds of online recommendations

Your local running store has to be smart about inventory, stocking their shelves with vetted shoes and gear, and making sure they provide better customer service than their so-called competitors.

My advice: shop local. I find the condensed product lines at a local running store to be an advantage by helping me to avoid pitfalls. Less can be more!

Secret #3: It’s a community

The third BIG SECRET about the local running store...and the most important.

It’s a community. A local running store can transform a community. How? Running stores:

  • Sponsor and manage local races
  • Host running-related events, classes and clubs
  • Partner with gyms, trainers, podiatrists, massage therapists, doctors, and food vendors
  • Give back to the community and non-profit organizations

When you’re part of the running community, you see smiling faces at races, events, and in the store. 

You get to celebrate the achievements of other runners, and benefit from their motivation and encouragement to help you keep going.

We’re neighbors, fast friends, and competitors brought together to accomplish the same thing...self-improvement. That’s the running community.

Wee Shop Local running stores

Looking for new running shoes or gear?

Walk into your local running store, chat with employees, swap stories about upcoming races, the latest race results, or get advice on how to be a better runner.

Buy your shoes or gear from a local running store. And wear it with pride. I do, because it’s part of the lifestyle I love.

What’s your favorite local running store?

Show them some love and like, share and tag your favorite running store. 

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Nathan Reyes
Kent, OH
2 Following

Trail runner


Rob Myers Well done. Shop local!!!

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