My wife and I used to own a running store, and even though our main business is events now, we still get asked questions about shoes and running as if we still had the store. So here are a few tips in making sure you are in the right store.
How are your greeted when you arrive?
Many times, old school running stores have employees that are more concerned about talking to their running buddies than actually helping new runners or walkers. Always look for a friendly greeting, and offers to help you. If they are not interested in helping you get started correctly, why are you going to give them your money.
Does the sales person listen to you?
I will never forget during my learning years, I pushed so hard to get a lady in a particular shoe that she looked at me and said “do you want to sell me a shoe or not” Lesson learned. It is important to get product knowledge from your sales person, but at the end of the day the customer must feel happy and comfortable in what they purchased. Don’t be pushed into a shoe that you are not happy with just because the sales person likes that brand the best. It is in fact about you!
What is the return policy?
I still cannot believe that there are running stores that do not have good return policies. Now as a consumer you should not abuse the policy and return beat up shoes, but the store should allow you to try the shoes out for a reasonable amount of time and if they are not working for you, you should be able to return them.
What is the background of the staff, managers, and owners?
We entered this industry because my wife and I spent many years racing in running and triathlons. Never all that competitive but we enjoyed and had an affinity for the sport. I always find it amusing when a running store hires a college swimmer or other sport enthusiast to sell their product. Heck, one store I knew of, one of the owners did not even like the sport of running. He was there to make a buck. People that truly enjoy and appreciate the activity will be honest with you when selling a product.
Does the sales staff spend enough time with you?
Saturday’s can be extremely busy days in retail, but you should still get the attention you deserve to get in the proper shoe. Be patient with the sales person as he or she may be juggling multiple customers, but make sure they are not trying to push you out the door to keep the conveyor belt moving. Much better to get in the right shoe rather than have to return it later.
Some of these may seem a bit obvious, but often they are overlooked. You are embarking on an active lifestyle and if you are a true newbie, you need to feel confident that your running store is being honest and has your best interest in mind.