Being overweight for the majority of my life, I have often felt like I didn't belong in a sporting good store, let alone a specialty running store. I had even walked into one a few years ago and had been laughed at when looking for a pair of sneakers. So you can imagine the hesitation I must have felt when I needed to find real running shoes. I had been having knee, hip and shin issues when I was starting to run and since I already had a reconstructed ankle, I knew I needed to make sure I had proper shoes. I could have done what a lot of people do and picked the prettiest ones I could find online and hoped for the best. The only problem was, it hadn't worked out for me before and I was at the point where I would almost rather give up than walk into a specialty store. Until one day while running on the treadmill, I just couldn't take it anymore. I got off, walked out to my car and started heading home. I.was.done.
When I pulled out of the gym parking lot I decided to before I gave up completely, I would suck it up and go in the local running shop across the road from the gym. Lucky Foot was like no other specialty store I had ever been in. They were really busy so I thought maybe I could come back other time but before I could make my exit, I was stopped by an associate. He asked if he could help me with anything and I stuttered a little and finally got out the words that I wanted to be a runner but everything hurt. I closed my eyes and waited for the laughter and when I didn't hear it, I opened my eyes quickly and looked around. He simply smiled, asked me my shoe size and we went from there. He spent a lot of time watching me run and using a specialized running app, he explained exactly what kind of shoe I needed and why. I tried on a bunch of shoes be for settling on the right ones, the only problem was, I didn't have any money. I asked him if it was OK that I come back when I could afford them and he said "sure". Here is where a lot of people would take their information and head straight to their computer.
I did not head to my computer and look up the best price and order online. I went back a few days later and with money in hand, I bought my first pair of "real" running shoes. For a running store to be THAT helpful and understanding and to spend so much time with me, it was the least I could do. I am glad I did because I have felt comfortable enough to go back time and again with questions, to celebrate milestones and... to buy more shoes.
I see it asked time and again on different threads, whether we should buy online or in the store. My answer is always the same, Buy Local. I see my local running store giving back to the community. I see them at every race. I have gone to pack-it pickups in their store and when I am at race expos, they are the familiar faces that make me feel like I belong. The owner, Jeff, was one of the first people I wanted to tell about my sponsorship and when I did tell him, he gave me a huge hug and told me he was proud.
If we don't support our local stores, we won't have any place left to go to get our gaits analyzed, to ask why one shoe works and another doesn't or to pick up a new pair of socks the day before a race because our dog ate one. If it weren't for Lucky Foot and their staff, I would not be running today. I would have probably hit up the ColdStone next door and never looked back. We need our local stores to help the people who can't quite get the fit right or who don't even know where to start. I am lucky to have an awesome local running store.
To Jeff and the gang, thank you for being so patient with me, I signed up to run the half this November, so be ready to see me a lot more when I am freaking out over every little thing.