In today’s increasingly digital-focused society, it’s more important than ever to envelop ourselves in community. We’re often detached throughout much of our lives, hiding behind a screen, sending communication through the long maze of the internet. Because the internet plays such a significant role in most of our lives, it’s easy to shop there, too. But it’s not always the best choice ... especially when it comes to running.
OK, let’s back up a minute. Because this is starting to sound like a major sales piece. We promise it’s not. It’s just that as runners, we crave a hub in our community where we can gather. It just so happens that more often than not, that hub also serves as a retail space. But that’s not why we go there to begin with.
First, we go because we know it’s the place to meet like-minded folks to hit the roads, the track or the trail with. And then later, we go because our shoes are worn out, we need nutrition for a long run, we seek race advice or need a new fall layer. We shop there because “there” is where our community begins. We shop there because we know we can trust the salespeople on the floor because, like us, they’re out putting in miles early on Saturday morning.
If this poetic tribute to running stores isn’t enough to convince you to shop local, we’ve got four more reasons why you should consider stepping inside your local running store a little more often.:
According to a 2011 article in Forbes magazine, 45 percent of every dollar spent at a local retailer goes directly back into the community. That means that every time you shop at a local business you truly are helping your community’s economy grow and flourish. What’s more, according to the Small Business Administration, local companies drive a significant sector of the American workforce — upwards of 50 percent of all US jobs since the 1970s.
Apply this directly to running shoes. Nothing compares to the in-store fit experience. Receiving a foot scan, experiencing a gait analysis and then talking over your options with a real, live person no doubt ensures that 9.9 times out of 10 you’re going to walk away with the right shoe for you. And when it comes to fitness and injury prevention over the long run, this is a really good thing.
If you’re shopping at a local establishment, chances are, they’ve partnered with at least a couple of other businesses around town to bring you unique services, products and opportunities that big box stores simply won’t provide. Take Fleet Feet Nashville for example. They sell a whole line-up of Nashville-specific t-shirts that highlight the local trail systems. Or, there’s Fleet Feet Albany. They partner with a local coffee roaster to provide java discounts to their customers. Or, for yet another example, consider Fleet Feet West Hartford’s unique CrossFit half marathon training program, which they partner with a local gym to create; it benefits both.
Running stores aren’t in the business of only selling products. In fact, we’d argue that selling products is only a fraction of what we do. First, it’s about finding, fostering and growing the very communities in which we live. It’s about being the hub for health and fitness. If you’re anything like us, chances are you’ve met some of your very best friends through your local running store. So, suffice to say, running stores build community.
So, we say shop local, be a part of your community and watch it thrive.