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 change your shopping habits for shoes and gear...FOREVER.
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?
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?
Let’s say you’re looking for a pair of running shorts with a few requirements like:
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:
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. 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?
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.