The 50 Best Running Stores in America for 2016

Photo: James D. DeCamp

Walk inside the store of a running store and you’re bound to catch a glimpse of more than running shoes, clothes and accessories.

Your local running shop is bursting with inspiration. All you need to do is walk inside and spend time with one of the expert shoe-fitters and you’re bound to come away with more than just your next pair of kicks. Your local running shop is your one-stop shop for shoes and gear, not to mention information about local trails and races, good advice on how to treat running injuries, not to mention training programs and insights for your next race. And you’ll also leave with a heap of inspiration to reach your running goals, no matter if it’s running your first marathon, running a faster half marathon, losing weight or just getting fit enough to run with your friends a few times per week.

OK, sure, the running retail business has been in a whirlwind of change in recent years. New stores with modern designs, corporate conglomerations with national branding and purchasing power, the continued growth of e-commerce and deep discounting of excess inventory—both in stores and online—have created new shopping opportunities and experiences for runners. It’s super easy to buy that discounted pair of shoes in your favorite color right from your phone. But that’s not what we’d recommend.

RELATED: Reasons to Avoid Buying Cheap Running Shoes Online

We strongly believe in locally owned, community-driven running shops, both because of the passionate people, positive energy, local connections and pure inspiration they afford. Those stores and the people who work there are woven into the soul of the sport, where runners of all abilities can be connected with the passionate culture we all share.

Every year, Competitor magazine partners with Running Insight trade magazine to identify the 50 Best Running Stores in America. It starts with readers nominating their favorite shops on Competitor.com. Then there is a rigorous evaluation process, which includes runner nominations, mystery shopping to assess customer service, credit ratings from vendors, and assessments about local programs and community commitment.

RELATED: Price Isn’t Everything When Buying Running Shoes

When it comes down to it, the best stores in the country are the ones that are focused more on spreading the joy and passion of running than they are on selling running shoes, apparel and accessories.

RELATED: Charm City Run Named 2016 Running Store of the Year

Listed below are the top shops earning the 50 Best Running Stores in America stamp of approval for 2016 and the four finalists for 2016 Running Store of the Year.

RELATED: Top Shops—Past Winners of The Running Store of the Year Honors

The Final Four

One of these four shops will be revealed as the 2016 Running Store of the Year on Dec. 1 based on criteria that includes the retail environment, shoe-fitting, checkout process, community service and credit ratings from vendors.

Charm City Run
Bel Air, Md.

Fleet Feet Sports
Brentwood, Tenn.

Hanson’s Running Shop
Grosse Pointe, Mich.

Tortoise & Hare
Glendale, Ariz.

RELATED: 10 Reasons Why You Should Shop at a Running Specialty Store

The 50 Best Running Stores in America

The stores listed below represent the list of 50 Best Running Stores in America for 2016 based on their outstanding service, strong business practices and general excellence serving their local running communities.

ALABAMA

Fleet Feet Sports
Huntsville

ARIZONA

Sole Sports
Tempe, Ariz.

Tortoise & Hare
Glendale, Ariz.


ARKANSAS

Rush Running
Bentonville, Ark.


CALIFORNIA

A Snail’s Pace
Brea, Calif.

Fleet Feet Sports
Aptos, Calif.

Fleet Feet Sports
Sacramento, Calif.


CONNECTICUT

Fleet Feet Sports
West Hartford, Conn.


FLORIDA

1st Place Sports
Jacksonville, Fla.

Runner’s Depot
Davie, Fla.

Running Wild
Pensacola, Fla.

Track Shack
Orlando, Fla.


GEORGIA

Game Changers
Richmond Hill, Ga.

West Stride
Atlanta


ILLINOIS

Dick Pond Athletics
St. Charles, Ill.

Fleet Feet Sports
Chicago

Geneva Running Outfitters
Geneva, Ill.

Running Central
Peoria, Ill.


INDIANA

Fleet Feet Sports
Fort Wayne, Ind.

Three Rivers Running
Fort Wayne, Ind.


KANSAS

Manhattan Running Co.
Manhattan


LOUSIANA

Varsity Sports
Baton Rouge, La.


MAINE

Fleet Feet Sports
Portland, Maine


MARYLAND

Fleet Feet Sports
Baltimore, Md.

Charm City Run
Belair, Md.


MASSACHUSETTS

Charles River Running
Norwood, Mass.

New England Running Co.
Beverly, Mass.

Whirlaway
Methuen, Mass.


MICHIGAN

Ann Arbor Running Co. 
Ann Arbor, Mich.

Complete Runner
Flint, Mich.

Hanson’s Running Shop
Grosse Pointe, Mich.


MISSOURI

Big River Running Co.
St. Louis, Mo.

Run 816
Liberty, Mo.

The Running Well Store
Lee’s Summit, Mo.


NEBRASKA

Lincoln Running Co.
Lincoln, Neb.


NEW HAMPSHIRE

Runners Alley
Portsmouth, N.H.


NEW YORK

Fleet Feet Sports
Syracuse, N.Y.

Medved Running and Walking Outfitters
Rochester, N.Y.


NORTH CAROLINA

Bull City Running
Durham, N.C.

Charlotte Running Co.
Charlotte

Run For Your Life
Charlotte


OHIO

Columbus Running Co.
Dublin, Ohio

Dave’s Running
Sylvania, Ohio

Second Sole
Akron, Ohio

Up & Running
Dayton, Ohio


OKLAHOMA

Red Coyote Running & Fitness
Oklahoma City

RELATED: Red Coyote Running & Fitness Named 2015 Running Store of the Year


PENNSYLVANIA

A Running Start
West Reading, Pa.


TENNESSEE

Fleet Feet Sports
Brentwood, Tenn.


TEXAS

iRun Texas
San Antonio, Texas

Luke’s Locker
Dallas, Texas


UTAH

Runner’s Corner
Orem, Utha


VIRGINIA

Fleet Feet Sports
Roanoke, Va.

Potomac River Running
Burke, Va.


WEST VIRGINIA

Two Rivers Treads
Shepherdstown, W.V.


WISCONSIN

Performance Runnning Outfitters
Brookfield, Wis.

 For questions or comments about the 2016 50 Best Running Stores of America program, contact Mark Sullivan at Formula 4 Media at msullivan@formula4media.com.

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