Internet shopping: We all do it. In our current technologically "plugged in" world, it's all too easy to hop on your laptop, search the web for your favorite style of running shoes, click "buy," and have them show up on your doorstep 48 hours later. The convenience of making your running purchases online can't be denied. But taking the extra time to visit and shop at your local running store can be far more beneficial than simply acquiring the running gear you need. Here are eight reasons why you should skip online shopping and visit your local running store instead.
1. Let's get the obvious out of the way: By shopping at your local running store you are boosting your local community. Supporting locally owned shops helps create jobs for your neighbors and helps your community thrive.
2. Get to know the local running community. It's so much more than a store full of new shoes; your local running store is the epicenter of running in your town. Learn about upcoming races, training programs, or volunteer opportunities. Meet a new running partner, learn about an unfamiliar trail, and score a pair of new shoes while you are at it.
3. Speaking of new shoes: A huge corporate website on the internet can't look at your foot and determine what type of shoe would work best for you. Your friendly local running store staff, on the other hand, can. Further, you can ask any questions or discuss any concerns with an actual person instead of relying on an FAQ page or random internet shoe reviews.
4. Try a new endurance nutrition product! Many running stores have a variety of nutrition options for sale in single serving sizes, whereas ordering on the internet almost always results in bulk or boxed items. Bulk options are a huge commitment, especially if you don't know if that product will work well for you.
5. Not sure what size shorts/compression sleeves/hydration pack you need? Save yourself the stress of guessing (and possibly having to return an item through the mail). Try them on at your local running store instead!
6. Find something you don't actually need...but you want anyway. A new sparkly headband? How about a 13.1 sticker for your car? Or brightly colored socks? Impulse buys aren't just for grocery store checkouts, and running store impulse buys are way more fun.
7. Get motivated! Feel like you're in a training slump? Head to your local running store. Just being surrounded by other runners and shiny new running gear may put a spark in your sneakers and training motivation. At my local store, the owners have lined one wall with race bibs and race medals. Seeing all of those miles covered by local runners is enough to inspire me to push harder!
8. Let's go back to reasons number one and number two: Supporting your local running store, in turn, helps support and grow your running community. Many running stores help sponsor local races and events. The more races and running events available, the more likely that outsiders and new runners will discover and join the running community. The more new runners that support the local running store, the greater opportunity for the store to sponsor more events. It's the circle of running life!
I'll be the first to admit that yes, internet shopping is much faster—and often less expensive—than going to a small, locally owned running store. But supporting your local store truly does benefit you as a runner. So the next time you need a new pair of running shoes or some electrolyte drink mix, skip the internet search and shop local instead!