Here in Colorado, we’re lucky to have a lot of choices when it comes to shopping for athletic or outdoor gear, and where I live is no exception. Even though I was a little uneasy about my experience visiting a running store the first time, I knew it was important to shop around and find the product and the sales environment that was right for me… After all, if I’m going to keep doing this running thing I’m going to want a good running store on my side to help me along the way, right?
If you read my post last week, you know I have some anxiety about shopping, and even with one store under my belt it was tough to face trying two more stores and risking two more social anxiety attacks. Nonetheless I got up the courage (aka took a Xanax) and out the door I went to two more stores, Runners’ Roost and the Boulder Running Company.
First stop: Runners’ Roost. It was pretty much the exact opposite of Roadrunner Sports–no high fives, not a lot of staff around and no other customers! It was also a smaller store which made it a little less overwhelming. But the salesperson who worked with me was less-than enthusiastic; in fact, he was very…well…uninterested. He simply had me walk and run for him without my shoes on and then watched me on the treadmill. Then he grabbed some shoes without really explaining anything in detail. I noticed the shoes he brought out were neutral because I saw them on the wall under the neutral sign. The ones he grabbed were:
- Brooks Ghost 5
- Asics Cumulus 14
- Nike Pegasus 29 (the latest version of the shoes I came in with)
I wasn’t feelin’ it. In-your-face salesmanship isn’t my thing, but as a retail professional myself, I know it doesn’t take much to engage your customers and the effort goes a long way. I left feeling a bit confused and wondered who to believe—Roadrunner and stability shoes or Runners’ Roost and neutral shoes? Was I too impressed by the bells & whistles at Roadrunner? And I did see that my right foot was overpronating on the video at Roadrunner, right?
So, off I went to the third store hoping I didn’t get a third, completely different opinion.
I arrived at Boulder Running Company in the middle of the day on a Wednesday…and wow, was it busy. This had to be a good sign! I was approached by a salesperson who introduced himself as Trent and listened to my story. He wasn’t HIGH FIVE enthusiastic, but he seemed genuinely interested. He had me walk and run across the sales floor. I was again filmed while running on the treadmill. Even with my shoes on, I saw the right foot do its thing. Trent asked another salesperson what he thought and they seemed to agree that stability was the way to go. RELIEF!
Trent told me you don’t want your shoes too snug, because the foot spreads out with impact and that you want room in the footbed of your shoe to allow for that.
Trent and I then went over to the benches where he measured my feet. He brought out a bunch of shoes and I started trying them on (I didn’t remember to write them all down). He explained about not wanting them to be too snug, which was was contrary to my thinking. I guess I connected snug with support, but Trent set me right! He explained how the foot spreads out with impact and that you want room in the footbed of your shoe to allow for that. While he was grabbing more shoes, I heard another salesperson tell a customer that you want to be able to “play piano with your toes.” This was an ah-ha for me and I realized my old shoes really were too small for running!
So, I tried on a bunch of shoes; some I didn’t even bother walking around in at all, others I ran around in. When I was trying to make a final decision, I went on the treadmill again to be filmed. This was great because I could actually see the correction. Trent explained that we wanted to make sure it wasn’t over-correcting because that could cause problems, too.
Somehow, Trent and I got to talking about work and I told him I was in retail. He took me over to a non-running shoe area and introduced me to his co-worker in that department, and they explained the store’s philosophy: if feet are important to runners, a good running store should take care of their feet in all aspects of life, not just running. It seemed pretty smart to me! They showed me some options that would be good for work since I can’t wear running shoes. They never pushed the other shoes on me, but they wanted me to see what quality options they offered if I wanted them. I felt really good about it, like they were trying to help me learn instead of just making me spend money.
Trent answered my questions and offered advice without trying to pressure me or up-sell. He helped me figure out winter running options and pointed out that sometimes some things are overpriced. I liked the honesty, and appreciated the time we spent and his interest. He gave me his card, his website, and told me about the Wednesday night running group. I would shop there again and would certainly seek Trent out again, too.
And the best part of the story is that I left with a brand new pair of New Balance 860s for my toes to play piano in as I go!
What do you think? Did I go about things in a smart way?