Sunday, February 20, 2011


In recent weeks I’ve taken to spending my Wednesday evenings at CycleFit in Fenton for an indoor group training ride. Each week the bikes on the shop floor are moved aside and we set up our own bikes and trainers, a training video is popped into the player and (once we figure out how to work the remote, which seems to have to be re-learned each week :-) we commence to spending some quality time in the “anaerobic pain cave” (said with attitude!) – a phrase I recently learned from Ron, the shop owner/operator, and a right fine bike racer.  Truth be told, the amount of time spent in that cave is limited, and the trainer sessions are mostly in the aerobic zone – hard enough to work up a good sweat, but never so tough as to quiet the groups banter.  Calories are burned.  Friendships are forged.  Winter blahs are defeated for another day. It’s a beautiful thing.

Every 3 months or so, after logging my 300+ miles on a pair of running shoes, it’s time to visit the local running store.  We’re fortunate to have several great stores to choose from in SE Michigan.  From the big guns at Running Fit, who host more races than I could count and sponsor an untold number of other events and causes, they have made an indelible mark on the Michigan running scene.  To the smaller shops like a favorite of mine, Runnin’ Gear – no less important to local races and high school athletics, they are never too busy to spend copious quality time with you to find just the right shoe. 

Like Norm from Cheers, you hear your name called when you walk in the door, and that’s a mighty fine feeling.

How often do we take these stores for granted?  What kind of a void would be left in their absence?  How many races would disappear?  How many Marathon Clinics or Triathlon 101 classes would no longer be available?  How many friendships forged around the coffee pot or repair stand of the local shop would never happen?

Small shop owner/operators typically come from a background in the sport they now work to serve.  Most sacrifice to a degree we may never fully understand or appreciate.  Many local races are dependant on their support (and vice-versa).

Online stores are great, and are a tough competitor for the local shop who have smaller margins and have to pay premium rent and utilities, wages and such.  Social Networks are fun and help connect long lost friends and relatives.  Technology and the opportunity and convenience it provides is awesome.  I use it all and appreciate it all.  However, nothing beats the warm welcome of the local shop, the one on one customer service, the group ride or run, not to mention the amount of experience and expertise that is just waiting to be tapped.

Take the time to frequent your local shop.  It’s an investment in your sport and in your community that I promise will not be wasted.

See you there!  

Press on friends.


Brandon Perry said...

I agree with you 100% Chuck. The 1 on 1 treatment you get from local stores is always best. Big reason is the relationship thats built and usually the handful of employees they have all participate in what you are doing. I see in the near future a rise in more local shops. Great for shopping and the local community. Thanks for the reminder, press on!

Chuck said...

So often things are cyclical, and I do agree with you that we'll see more of a shift back to the customer service, smaller, local merchants again. Hope so anyway!

Ann Brennan said...

We have some great running shops in our area. It makes sense because we have so many runners but I am always afraid for them. In addition to running I my husband and I love photography and recently our favorite local camera shop closed. It is ashame to watch local businesses shut down like this. Thanks for sharing.