Why Are Specialty Running Stores So Special?

These specialty running stores are more important than you think and here's how you can support your local shop as a runner.

What makes specialty running stores so special? Charlotte and Dave, two running shop owners, shared their perspective on their importance. Though it is tough for brick-and-mortar specialty stores to stay in business, both Charlotte and Dave, both runners, said it’s their passion, which is something that runners know quite a lot about. Their store has knowledge of shoes and running attire that you probably won’t find at the big chain sporting goods stores.

Here are several things that set the small specialty stores apart from the big boys.

Aside from buying your shoes from actual runners, you get the benefit of being properly fitted in a shoe suited to your running style. There are also brands of shoes only carried at specialty running stores. The chain megastore might offer three or four brands with a few models for each brand. I get weak in the knees when I see eight different brands and six or seven models per brand at specialty running stores.

Runners love “stuff” like watches, sunglasses, compression socks, arm bands, hats, and all kinds of attire for any season, which are readily available at these shops.

Running specialty stores face stiff competition from both Internet sales and bigger stores. Hence, they rely on excellent customer service and word-of-mouth advertising.

These stores are a valuable resource for race information in your area. Many of them carry brochures for coaching, personal training, chiropractors and therapeutic massage. They are also active in their communities, offering race sponsorships, training programs and fun runs. These fun runs may be attended by vendors. They will actually let you wear attire or test drive the latest shoe. How great is running in a new pair of shoes while under no pressure to buy them?

I consider myself lucky to have spent time Marathon Sports and Charles River Running, both in Massachusetts. Check out your local store; they do a lot for the running community. Let’s do our part and support them.

RELATED: What You Need In Your Running To-Go Bag