The Very Best Running Stores In America 2013

Rush Running Company, Bentonville, Ark. Photo: Mike Rush

Rush Running Company

Bentonville, Ark.
Established: 2008
Primary owners: Alison and Mike Rush
Total space (all stores): 3,800 square feet

CIt’s no small irony that independently owned Rush Running thrives by connecting with the community in a city most well known for being home to the world’s largest retail chain. Although husband-and-wife owners Mike and Alison Rush both ran track for the University of Arkansas and have fast PRs to their credit, they’ve been successful because they treat every customer who walks through the door of their 2,600-foot store the same, no matter if they’re a marathon maniac or a first-timer going from the couch to a first 5K.

Great service, an individualized expert shoe-fitting process, a clean, well-merchandised store, free training programs and a friendly atmosphere are its primarily calling cards. In 2011, they opened a 1,200-square-foot Rush Running store in their own college-town stomping grounds in Fayetteville.

While the store’s wall-of-fame photo gallery has a few famous fast people (Shalane Flanagan, Meb Keflezighi and former Arkansas star Joe Falcone, among others), it’s primarily filled with photos of regular runners. “Anyone who brings us a photo of themselves running in a race can make it onto our wall of fame,” says Mike Rush. “We facilitate a fun, nurturing, learning environment that promotes fitness in general, not just running or walking.”

Rush Running staffers use a high-speed camera, treadmill and flat-screen TV to both show and tell customers what’s happening within the specific biomechanics of their gait.

“It’s a great teaching tool that takes a little more time to complete, but it’s all about the customer and education,” he says. “We want our customers to know exactly why we bring them the shoes we do and what exactly they’re putting on their foot.”

Did you know? The store also has a Wall of Shame in its bathroom featuring professional athletes that have been busted for using PEDs. Among the notorious dopers are the wall are “FloJo” (Florence Griffith-Joyner), Justin Gatlin and Lance Armstrong. “Most of the time it takes a second for customers to “get” what the wall is, but once they do we all share a good laugh,” Mike Rush says.

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