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Getting a Great Running Deal (part 2): The Importance of Your Local Running Store

Posted Feb 28 2012 7:45am
For the second installment of the Best Deals series I wanted to talk about the local running store. It may seem like an odd topic to add at this point but I think it is very important that I establish why the local running store is so very important to this process and the series as a whole. So for this blog I want to discuss how I use and embrace my local running store. For me there is no one like my local Fleet Feet store for knowledge, guidance and products.

Three years ago I knew less than nothing about running. I had no idea of where to turn for even the basics. I was new to the area so I didn’t know who friend or co-worker wise were runners to turn to for advice. I started buying books on running but they really didn’t help as much as I had hoped. I discovered there was a good running store near my office and dropped in at lunch one day. They spent a long time with me getting me fitted for my first true pair of running shoes and some good foundational advice as well. Since then the owners and name has changed but that store is my true foundation and source for all things running.

The local running store really is the holy land for me. It is a must for anyone first getting into running or returning to running. The key is no wear else do I believe that you can get fitted properly and really learn about if you pronate and what type of shoe you need. Once that bond is established they have a great understanding of not only your needs, weaknesses and goals but what is available community (race) wise as well.
What do I continue to buy from the local running store now? I believe I still buy around a third of my running gear and running related items at the store. Maybe a little more in a given year dependent upon if I am changing shoes brands or models. These purchases fall into a handful of categories. They are:
  • New Items or Transitional Items – Anything that is new in the market or will be a major change for me will come straight for the local store. I rely on the store to help me determine if I really should move to the new shoes, shoe type or other gear. As I stated before, the fit is the key and you can only get it one place and that is in person trying it on and testing it out.
  • Non sale Items (never go on sale) – Newer or hot (in demand) items and nutritional stuff never seem to go on sale anywhere. So there really isn’t an advance in most cases buying in online for the same price. I’d rather buy it locally and have it immediately than paying for shipping and then waiting a week or so for it to come. I get almost all of my Brooks’s jackets, Hammer drinks and compression gear this way.
  • Unique Items – Many local stores or races will produce something unique each year. For me it is finisher gear or local running club gear to purchase. This gear is locally produced and only available through one or two locations in the community. So there’s no real option to buy it elsewhere. Another example is for some races as well there is even a supporter’s kit for the marathon that I get the family. Great buy for all of the stuff that is packed into the kit.
  • Overstock, Clearance or Heavily Discounted Items – There will always be special sales like side walk sales throughout the year to make room for the new gear coming in. You can find some great clearance prices if you know when to shop and or pick up those extra pairs later in the season. I have gotten some great deals on shoes and jackets this way. Also look for special holiday events or coupon events as well. Get on the store’s email or mailing list and ensure you are aware of what is happening. Don’t let a good sale go buy.
  • Customer Rewards Program – Many running stores will give you a discount for being a frequent shopper . I would guess that many stores will give you somewhere between a 5-10% cash back credit for shopping with them. It typically happens after you purchase a hundred or hundred and fifty dollar worth of merchandise. It’s nice to go in for something and then be surprised that I have like $30 waiting for me to apply to a purchase. When you combine this with a clearance sales or other promotions these can generate some really great buys over time.
  • Vendor Promotional Items – Your local running store will (or should) always have parades of vendors coming through for you. I am lucky that several running vendors attend special runs, events or races for the store on a regular basis. During these events they tend to have you try the gear and then have sales on the gear. In some cases there is even free stuff to be had. I find it nice to be able to actually talk to the reps and let them know how you feel about their products. I know I have spoken to many over the fact that in some clothes they do not carry a XXL size. At least I feel I have had the opportunity to explain that we all are not skinny an a little larger sizes would be nice.

  • Some of the blog’s readers have thought I am not a big supporter of the local running store. I guess they thought that by my comments about how to look for the best deals in non-traditional locations or online. I actually am very supportive of the local running store(s) as they are the heart that the running community relies on. It helps to pump the life blood of running in the community and ensures that the running community stays alive. I honestly believe that without such a location in your community it is difficult to have a strong running spirit for runners to
    I have to admit that I have a really good relationship and friendship with the Fleet Feet store here. I really like the owners and the staff. It is a great place for me to turn to when I have questions or looking for the next “must have”. They have been with me every step of the way on my running journey over the last few years. They have also been very supportive of this blog. So for me they will always be an important part of my growth in the sport and my achieving any future goals I may have. So please support your local running store as much as you possibly can.  

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