Running Store vs Online Debate: Shoes edition

Kristen @ runforwine.net brought up some interesting concerns on my recent post about getting my new shoes on Amazon. She said:

“I think it kinda sucks that you have your running store do the work and then order it online 😦 Maybe you support your running store in other ways. It just makes me cringe when I see people promoting this.”

She was afraid it was going to sound bitchy, but I totally got what she was saying.

Let me clarify a few things (This post is going to be a bit wordy; bear with me):

– I mentioned that I had my gait analyzed at a running store in San Diego. What I failed to mention was that this was well over a year ago. The product of having my gait analyzed by them was my beloved Mizuno Wave Nirvana 6’s. I proudly bought my shoes from them along with about 5 million other things. They definitely got their monies worth.

– I mentioned that I bought from Amazon because they were cheaper. While this is valid, there were also many other reasons. My local running store is TINY! They do not have any machines to test your gait or anything like that. They also have a very small selection of shoes. Instead of buying my shoes from them, I buy all my sport beans and some apparel. There is a running store I could go to, but it is quite a drive. Since I already knew the shoes I needed, Amazon seemed like the way to go.

– I love Amazon, for more reasons than one. I buy everything from groceries to birthday presents from them. It is a company that I will continue to support in the coming years.

– I’m a cheap ass that loves a good deal.

All those reasons and more made Amazon seem like the most logical place for me to get my shoes.

Regardless of my reasons, this brings up an interesting point. When is okay to buy your shoes online versus buying from your local running store? Was I total scum for buying my shoes from an online store? What about people that really can’t afford to spend the big bucks at running store? Are they disappointing the running loyalty gods for foregoing the pricey specialty stores?

My opinion is this: Support your local running store when you can. If you have them fit you for shoes, then you owe it to them to buy at least one pair of shoes from them. After that it’s every (wo)man for themselves. Do whatever is best for you.

What do you think? I am doomed to running hell for buying my shoes on Amazon?

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Running Store vs Online Debate: Shoes edition

  1. Everything you said makes sense to me. If you go to the running store and they work with you, buy from them. If you know what shoe you’re going to get already then it really is more convenient to buy online. I do think it’s nice to keep store loyalty but the truth is it’s hard to justify an extra $20 on shoes these days :S

  2. runforwine

    Great post. I’ll look forward to reading comments. To be fair I recently purchased two pairs of shoes from amazon (Nimbus 12). I did this this becasue the new nimbus (13) had significant changes and I don’t like them. I tracked down the old pairs and bought a few. I’m hoping the new nimbus doesn’t sell as well and they change it back!

    I know it’s difficult for people to spend $100+ on running shoes especially if they run often enough to change them every few months and I agree with everthing you say here. It’s particularly bothersome when we (running store employees) spend time (frquently significant amounts of time) with someone and give them the information (and then some) and they go online. We can only hope that they will come back and support us in other ways. And usually they do. Runners are a pretty loyal bunch. But because of this trend of buying shoes online we are doing *ok* solely (ha!) because we also work with alot of local doctors who send us patients.They are the reason we are in business. Not runners. But runners are why we happily do at all.

    • I am really interested to read the comments too. I think you brought up a great point that should provoke some interesting opinions, ESPECIALLY from people like yourself who work at a running store. I do definitely agree with you though, runners in particular seem to be a pretty loyal bunch of people. Thanks again for your comment!

  3. I think it’s important to support your local running store (I LOVE mine and have bought shoes, socks, and compression sleeves from them) BUT I don’t think you owe them ANYTHING for analyzing your gait. They provide that service for free and could easily charge a small fee for it if shoe sales were such a problem.
    As for run for wine’s comment above – I do agree that it sucks to spend time with someone and having them go online to buy. I get that big time. BUT that’s the running store clerk’s job and tehy are still getting paid the same amount whether they make that shoe sale or not.
    If it’s a commission issue…then charge for the service only if they DON’T buy shoes. Make it free if they do. Seems like a good common ground.
    Nice post by the way!

    • That is a VERY interesting point of view. It seems like it could be a great incentive to get people to buy their shoes at running stores if the service is only free with a shoe purchase. I never thought of that before. I wonder if the thought of potentially charging would turn away some people that aren’t willing to commit to a shoe?

      • Charging for anything can possibly turn people away, but if people still want the service, they will pay. I can bitch all I want about how I have to pay to check bags at an airport, but I still do it.
        Also, I’m thinking if gain analization is free now, it wouldn’t be a huge fee if someone starting charging. I’d still pay $5-$10 for it if it meant that I would save money from buying the wrong shoes over and over.

  4. Paula sent me this way (but why don’t I have you in my G-reader?)…

    I agree that if they are really concerned about spending the time/money on analyzing gaits they can charge for it. I love my local store, but I have never bought running shoes from them. I support them in other ways – buy other merchandise and participate in races. Most online stores like Running Warehouse and RoadRunner are also local stores (and will do an online gait analysis – if you’re feeling really guilty!).

    I typically have to buy online because my feet are so damn huge! I’m sure that my local store COULD order them for me, but that means an extra trip out and back — and online is just easier!

    • I could have sworn I had you in my google reader too! Dang! Well, you are officially added. We can totally stalk each others blogs now. πŸ˜‰ Online gait analysis… that is interesting! I wonder how accurate it is! I am going to check it out just to see if it comes up with the same result as the people in the store. Thanks!!

  5. When I got my gait analyzed, I purchased my shoes and some other basics in-store because of the services that they provided. Now that I know which shoe fits me, I’m more apt to buy the next pair online to score a deal. If I feel that I have to try a new shoe, I’ll happily go to the running specialty store to reanalyze and buy in-store.
    Initially, I thought you meant you had them analyze your gait and then you left and bought them online lol. Knowing that this was quite awhile later, though, I’m in agreement with you.

    • Yeah, I totally was ambiguous in my post. It made it seem like I got my results and bolted from the store. haha Definitely not the case. It seems like most people agree that online is okay especially after you have already purchased in store. I just wish the stores would be able to come down in price a bit, because I would be more inclined to go to them if they were even close to what the prices online are!

  6. While I do think it’s a courtesy to buy from a running store if they have fitting you for a shoe, I do not think it’s an obligation. I bought many pairs of running shoes from my local running store, but the last pair I bought online because they were $25 cheaper. For ever 4 I buy, I get one for free if I buy online versus my local store. There are still things I will buy from my local running store and I run in their races on a regular basis, but with the market the way it is, it’s hard to justify spending $25 extra on the same shoes.

    • SERIOUSLY! It is SO hard to justify spending that extra money. It could be going toward so many other things. I wonder if some of the stores do price match? Although I have found that even stores that do price match won’t match online prices…

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