Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Running Stores of the World: Running Central Peoria IL

My recent travels took me home to Peoria, IL. Well at least it was home from the time I turned 8 until I graduated High School at the age of 18. I still have family there so it still feels like home and I love going back. But this trip was also part business. When I was 17 I took up running. My girlfriend at the time ran track and cross country (we didn't have a boys CC team). I was sitting on the couch one day stuffing my face with Oreo Cookies, got up, put on a pair of "running" shoes and ran 3 miles. I have not stopped since.

Not long after that first run I decided I needed some real running shoes. So I drove to Running Central and bought a pair of New Balance 373s for the outrageous price of $45. Soon after I was out running and decided then and there that I was going to work in the running shoe business.

So it was great to be able to go back to Running Central and to help teach the great crew there about the Zoot Footwear they had on the wall. I spent 4 hours at the store listening to the staff service runners and I fell in love with their method.

First off they are as midwestern as you can get. So there is an honesty and work ethic about them. You know when you go there, they are giving you their best. Instead of treadmills they ask you to take off your shoes, they get down on the floor and they watch very closely as you walk back and forth in a straight line. Then they make their functional suggestions.

Their inventory in the back is laid out by size not by brand or by style. So it's a guarantee they will have shoes for you to try on but they don't really care about which brand they are brining out. They are choosing by function. So in the first few days of Zoot being in the store, our shoes were just included in the mix. People tried on our shoes with no preconceived notion except that it was brought out for them to try. The results have been great so far. Of course I think that's good for Zoot but I think it's good for runners too. You are not going to get stuck on a favorite shoe this way. You are going to be open to options which I believe is best for every runner. I see so many runners get upset because their shoe changed or worse yet don't realize that maybe their running gate has changed and that the favorite shoe just may not be the best for them. So the Running Central method keeps the variety in running shoes going and keeps you on your toes if you will.

There is nothing fancy about Running Central. It's just a hard working well managed running store and as they say "If it plays in Peoria, it will Play everywhere". Their method would be a welcome change to some of the stores in the market today.

It's a good life…..

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