10. Unparalleled customer service!
Passionate, knowledgeable runners work at running stores. That's one of reasons Fleet Feet Syracuse was named the 2012 Running Store of the Year by Competitor and Formula4Media. Photo: Jana Birchum/Formula4Media
9. Get shoes you can't get anywhere else.
Specialty shops often have running shoes that aren’t sold at larger sporting good stores or national chain retailers. Photo: Marathon Sports
8. Group runs and special events.
Specialty running shops offer group runs and special events on a regular basis. Sporting goods stores offer fly fishing demos and great deals on pro sports jerseys. Photo: Boulder Running Company
7. Support local races, schools and causes.
Local running shops support local races, schools and running groups. Photo: Movin' Shoes
6. They're all about running.
You wouldn’t go to a bakery to get an oil change or new windshield wipers, would you? So there’s no sense going to a store that sells football and hockey gear to buy running shoes and apparel. Photo: Gazelle Sports
5. Help the local economy.
If you spend $100 at a locally owned business, on average, $68 goes back to the local economy. Spend the same $100 at a national chain and only $43 returns to the local economy. Photo: Fleet Feet Syracuse
4. Get your injury questions answered.
Most specialty running stores have coaches and sports medicine experts on staff (or easily available) for questions about health, injuries, rehab and recovery. Photo: Big River Running
3. Learn from experienced employees.
Running shop employees eat, sleep and breathe running. It’s about what you’re getting for your money. Running smarts = priceless. Photo: Movin' Shoes
2. Learn how to train.
It’s the best and least intimidating place to learn about training for your first race, whether it’s a 5K or a full marathon. You'll typically only Photo: Movin' Shoes
1. Excellent customer service.
Why shop at a specialty run shop for your running needs? Excellent customer service, individualized fitting (which often includes expert video gait analysis) and in-depth knowledge of all things running. Photo: Big River Running
Help us pick the top 50 running shops in America by nominating your favorites.
Each year, Competitor magazine and Running Insight® identify the 50 Best Running Stores in America®. It starts with runners nominating their favorite stores through www.competitor.com. Then those stores are put through a rigorous evaluation process, which includes mystery shopping to assess customer service, credit ratings from vendors and assessments about local programs and community commitment.
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Which specialty running shop is the best in the country for 2013? Help us out by voting for your favorite shops by clicking here.