I get a fair number of questions regarding the issue of the local running stores and minimalist shoes. Some carry a wide selection of minimalist shoes, offer clinics teaching good running form, teach their staff about the fundamentals of good running form, and even support us barefoot running hippies. Playmakers in Okemos, Michigan and ZombieRunner in Palo Alto, California are good examples.
Others take more of a middle ground approach. They may carry some minimalist shoes, but don’t really do much to sell them or educate the consumer.
Finally, some take a pretty strong “heel striking is the only right way to run and the rest of you guys are idiots” approach. I hear The Running Room chain of stores fits this category.
As I mentioned in my last post, the minimalist shoe market is expanding rapidly. It has become abundantly clear this movement isn’t a fad or a trend, it is a paradigm shift in how we think about running.
Those running stores that pick up on this trend will prosper, especially as more and more companies enter the market. The running stores that keep their heads in the sand will suffer mightily. They may stick by their guns, but they will be dominated by the forward-thinking competition.
I do what I can to help stores that are embracing the minimalist movement. I shop at their stores instead of the big box sporting goods stores. I offer to hold clinics. I do what I can to promote their store, their events, and even their sales. In short, I want to do what I can to make sure they succeed. They give to the running community; this is my way to repay them.
So what about those stores that universally reject barefoot and minimalism? I don’t support them in any way, though I am still pleasant. Essentially I keep a friendly channel of communication open in preparation for the day when they finally come around. When this happens, I happily offer them all the same stuff I offer the other stores, including my business.
Can we do something to help persuade them?
I always tell all my barefoot and minimalist shoe friends to send emails and make phone calls. Find the owner or manager of your local stores and contact them. Ask if they offer any clinics that teach barefoot running, POSE, ChiRunning, Good Form Running, or any other natural running form. If you feel confident in your own knowledge, offer to help conduct clinics. Ask them if they carry your favorite brands of minimalist shoes.
These communications will help convince them there is a legitimate market for these services and products. We’re great at communicating with each other online, but not always so great at communicating with the people in our local running communities. Little things like this can make a huge difference.
What about your area? Do you have any local running stores that are especially supportive? How about stores that are openly hostile? Have you tried engaging them in discussions yet? Leave your story in the comments!