The Value of a Specialty Running Store

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When approached about writing up a little something for this blog, I had a variety of ideas pop into my head, but for today I am going to do a little preaching to the choir, so to speak. And as I go into this, I’ll give full disclosure and say that I am not trying to say you must do this or that because Steve Hooper – who with his wife owns the St. George Running Center – is one of my best friends, or that the SGRC sponsors me in my running pursuits, or even that the store supports many of our local high school programs in many ways. Rather, I would hope that these things add a little support to what I’m about to say if I’d ever get to the point…image

For Christmas, I was given a gift certificate to a sporting goods store in Salt Lake. Naturally, I was attracted to the running section of the store. While browsing, I noticed a guy stepping into a pair of Altras. He seemed to have a puzzled look on his face and with no one around to help him, I took up a conversation and helped him decide whether these shoes were right for him or not and how to transition into them. He seemed genuinely thankful and was able to make an informed decision about his new choice of running footwear. On another occasion, a similar event happened when visiting my sister-in-law at another sporting goods store – only instead of having no help from the employees, an uniformed worker was fitting a gentleman in the completely wrong shoe for his foot and the foot/leg pains he was having. When the associate disappeared into the dark abyss of the back room, I butted in and guided the customer into a shoe that would help him much better.

So what can we learn from this?

So what can we learn from this – other than that I am a pretty annoying and might need to learn to mind my own business? A local running specialty store brings something to a community and consumer that other stores can’t. For one, knowledge – those who work at stores like the St. George Running Center are actually runners, know something about the product they are working with, and learn about what can help each of us become more proficient runners. Secondly, they actually care. In both cases I really think the stores only cared about making a sale, not what what was best for the runner. SGRC and other running specialty stores work extremely hard to build a relationship with each of us and care about our successes and failures. Sure, they want to sell things – Stevie has to feed that classic Barbie collection habit somehow – but they want to do it for the right reasons.

When the SGRC opened its doors, 6 or however many years ago, it was one of the greatest things to happen to our local running community. Keep it growing, keep our sport and passion growing!