The Benefits of Buying Local
Where you shop matters! Buying local at a small business keeps our economy humming. They account for half of all private sector jobs. They reinvest back into our local economy, and are often the core of community life. I’m not against big box retailers or chains (I love Target and Chipotle), but when it comes to running gear, I’m an advocate of buying local.
There are a few shops that have gotten most of my business since college. Run n Fun in St. Paul, and Mill City Running and Marathon Sports in Minneapolis. They know more about running than I ever will, and never sell me stuff I don’t need. They are honest, and as runners themselves, want to get me the best gear I will actually use.
Here are a few reasons why buying local is a good idea.
Benefits to our Local Economy
When you buy your gear here, that money stays here. According to the Independent Running Retailers Association, if you spend $100 at a locally owned business, $68 of it goes back to the local economy. If you take that same $100 and spend it at a national chain, you only see $43 come back.
This means more money circulating in our economy. Money that eventually goes to public safety, transportation, education, etc. When local shops do more business, they hire (or retain) more employees who pay income and property tax. That money all goes back into our economy too.
Benefits to our Local Community
Local running stores do more than build our economy. Frequently, they are the cultural centers for the running community. They support local health and wellness by sponsoring races, training groups, and offer other educational offerings. John Long, owner of Marathon Sports describes it this way;
“We love our local running/wellness community and supporting it on every level 365 days a year. All of our decisions are directed at continuing to grow and foster the overall communities health and its incredible impact on the lives of our customers and citizens!”
They understand the value of local vs internet discounts, and want to make Minnesota a great place to live and run.
Benefits to You
Local shops give you expertise. Kerri and Perry Bach, owners of Run N’ Fun say,
“Our stores are run and staffed by people that live, work, and run here. With 21 years of experience we know what works and what doesn’t for most runners.“
You get the one on one customer shopping experience you can’t find online or at a big chain. Most stores offer some form of running analysis. This helps get you the best shoes for your feet, and can correct issues with form.
You also get to swap stories with other runners. I’ve learned about races, trails and new products at one of these shops. I had a 15 minute conversation recently with another customer about the best GPS watches. Somehow I felt more confident knowing another runner was ok having a watch 3 or 4 models old.
Local Running Shops
We took an informal poll via Twitter, and these local running shops rose to the top. In no particular order (and certainly not the only ones);
- Run N Fun – St. Paul
- Marathon Sports – Minneapolis
- Mill City Running – Minneapolis
- Gear Running – Edina
- TC Running Company – Eden Prarie
On occasion, I have purchased online. GASP! However, the prices aren’t that much better (if at all). Join MDRA and get amazing discounts on gear at the shops on this list. This ALWAYS beats the prices online!
Go checkout your local running shop. There’s always something new to learn, and the vibe of being around other runners is inspiring.