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A Runner’s Diary: Sneaker Store vs. Running Store

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I live on Long Island and there seems to be only two running stores in the area. One is located in Farmingdale, which is nearly an hour from my house, and the other is located in Lynbrook, which is about a half hour from my house.

Since I’ve been running more than 15 miles a week, my shins have been hurting and the backs of my legs have been burning. So I decided that it was time to buy a good pair of running sneakers.

I had a meeting in Huntington the other day and I realized that I wasn’t that far away from the Farmingdale store, called Runner’s Edge. I put the address in my GPS and within five minutes I was parking my car.

I walked into the store and didn’t really know what to expect. As soon as I walked through the door, I was greeted by a salesperson, a young bald man in his 30’s who wore bright orange sneakers.

“Can I help you?” he said.

“I’m new to running,” I told him. “I’ve been running about 15 or so miles a week and I think I need new sneakers.”

“Did you bring in your old sneakers?” he asked.

“No,” I said, and then thought to myself, “Who walks around with their old sneakers?”

I asked him if he carried Newton’s, which was a brand I read about in Runner’s World Magazine. He told me not to be concerned with brands and to get something that feels supportive and comfortable. “We only sell good running sneakers here,” he said.

“I was told that I needed two pairs of sneakers: one for racing and one for training. Is that true?” I asked. “Also, is it good to switch off sneakers every time you run?”

“First off,” he said, “you don’t need a pair of racing sneakers. Racing sneakers are for experienced marathon racers. And, there’s no need to switch off sneakers. You wear one pair for running/training and after three to four months, you buy a new pair. You could switch off and they would both last about six months, but what’s the point?”

I thought about what he said and it made sense.

He asked me to stand barefoot in front of him. I patiently stood on the cushioned track located in his shop. “Now walk,” he told me. He watched me as I walked toward him. He then told me to sit down and said he’ll be right back.

He brought out three pair of sneakers: Sacouny, Addidas and Brooks. He asked me to try one on each foot. I tried the Sacouny’s and Addidas first. I thought the Sacouny’s were better. Then I tried the Sacouny’s and the Brooks. I felt that the Brooks were more supportive and comfortable. But, to be honest, they didn’t feel that much different.

He told me to put on both pair of Brooks and run around the store. They had a mini track in the store and I took off. I felt a little embarrassed but I did it.

I told him I would try the Brooks and see how they worked out for me. As I was at the register, he told me that he also wore Brooks Ghosts for running. He said he really liked them. “Why didn’t you say that while I was trying them on?” I asked.

“I don’t like to sway my customers,” he said. “I want you to feel comfortable in your decision. All of these sneakers that we sell are good. As a matter of fact, if these don’t work for you, come back to the store and we will take them back.”

Now that’s customer service!

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About Hilary Topper

  • Dr. Bruce Pinker, DPM, AACFAS, AAPWCA

    Sounds like a good experience and good direction given by the salesman. Remember, change those sneakers every 300 – 500 miles to prevent injury!

    Keep on running!

  • Constance Korol

    Hey Hilary,

    Great summary of the customer service experience you get from Bob and his family setting at Runners Edge. I have been running for about 15 years now with a full marathon and many half marathons behind my belt. I continue to learn and get great help from these folks every time I stop by. They even sponsor training groups such as this past summer’s Run Like a Diva training to get anyone into half marathon shape. Keep up the great work in shoes that are right for you. Cheers!

  • Hilary Topper

    thanks Bruce and Constance for your comments!

  • Marilyn Pean

    Good Luck :)

  • Erin

    I love Runner’s Edge. It’s the only store I go to for my running shoes!

  • Jan

    To complement your article, I can describe my experience with the other store you mention—Lynbroook Runner’s Stop. It went very similarly, making it a sharp contrast from general stores. Plus, they have a running group that got me into running more frequently.

  • katthedley

    I can agree to the salesman. but it doesn’t apply to all. sometimes you also need to have two or three shoes.

  • Hilary Topper

    Thanks Katthedley! I think you may be right…