In the days of the Coronavirus, it’s easy to click a couple of buttons and order running shoes online and have it delivered to your house in a few days or less. Let’s not forget our local running stores that keep the fitness society together. We asked running specialty stores what they are doing to keep their business open, how its customers can continue to support them, and how they pay it back to their community. All stores are available by phone or its website and offer free delivery with a small minimum, but each store is open and getting creative on how to cater to their patrons.
“We have all of our products online (and have for a number of years),” says Dave Harkin of Portland Running Company. “You can use our live chat if needed. And, at checkout, you can get free delivery (over $50), same day ($10), and curbside at either location. We have also done a number of promos (currently ‘waterworks’ for hydration packs at 20% discount).”
“We are still selling shoes and gear; answering questions via phone, email, and messages,” describes Phil Kochik of Seattle’s Seven Hills Running Shop. “Some new items are arriving like some new Ultimate Direction and Ultraspire gear that just arrived. We’ve ordered in lots more Hokas and Spring Energy over the last month due to high demand.”
“We have all of our products available for curbside pickup, in-town delivery, or shipping within the state of Oregon. Many of our products are available on the website but customers should call if they don’t see what they need,” declares Dustin Pearce of Eugene’s Run Hub NW. “We are also offering personal shopping boxes, which include nutrition, socks, and a surprise box. These can also be purchased on our website.”
“We have been open by appointment so you can buy anything you need,” states Holly Finch of the Pulse Running and Fitness Shop in Meridian, ID. ” You can stop for nutrition or we will fit you for shoes.”
SHOES-n-FEET in Bellevue, WA has been granted as Essential Business due to working closely with the Medical Community. They are seeing a maximum of four customers in the store at a time for appointment fittings. The store has been reconfigured for social distancing and employees wear masks, gloves, and use disinfectant sprays and wipes.
Local running stores are more than just transactional. They keep us motivated to keep an active life. How do they do this during a pandemic?
“We have a robust Instagram mission to keep running fun,” remarks Harkin. “We have introduced daily waves so runners can continue to bond and communicate even though we have to distance, mask, and look away. We have also performed hours of consultation work with local athletes especially new runners and walkers for whom resources are limited. We are also still performing in-store gait assessments when necessary. We never closed our doors because we knew that our runners and walkers would need us.”
“We are doing weekly social media challenges with a prize raffle at the end of the week,” adds Pearce. “In addition, we are doing Facebook or Instagram live events on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at 6 pm. We are also currently looking at bringing back run school virtual addition which we will have more details on in the coming weeks.”
“I’m hosting a Virtual Run Challenge for the month of April,” mentions Finch. “I’m encouraging everyone to post their mileage every day with a picture. I’m keeping track of everyone’s mileage just to see how many miles we get to at the end of the month. Each week there’s been a different challenge that everyone gets entered into (depending on how much they participate) for a schwag bag. I’ve heard from several runners how much this is motivating them to get out and stay active. Everyone gets a shirt at the end with a logo we created that says Even apart we run together. Everyone seems pretty excited about it.”
“We also made a fundraising calendar with lots of photos of local runners and inspirational quotes to boost morale and help us look ahead,” remarks Kochik. “These calendars start from 5.1.20 and go through 4.30.21. Funds go to CDC Covid emergency fund.” Click this link for more details on how to buy.
Besides buying running products, what can runners do to help your local running store during these trying times?
“People can help us by following the guidelines given out by our government following the CDC guidelines,” replies Finch. “The more everyone sticks with the guidelines and stays safe the quicker we can get back to more of a normal life.”
“Even though we can’t be together in person we love to stay connected via social media to continue to see everyone and their adventures and successes,” mentions Pearce.
“We’d love to simply sell our products and services during this time. We are fully stocked and staffed and working hard to remain a reliable, comprehensive resource. Sure, buy a gift card if you don’t need anything right now that would help, but we would rather just go about the business of running and walking retail,” says Harkin. “We want to help keep our community running. Strong bodies. Strong minds. Strong Hearts. We want to do our fundamental part to help get us all through this healthier and better than ever.”
“I feel so fortunate that I work with and live in such an awesome running community,” asserts Finch. “I love every day that I get to support them and they’ve made it a point to support us as we work through this together.”
“I can’t wait for group runs to start again!” exclaims Kochik. I think Phil speaks for all of us.