For a little while I used to go to a small independently owned running store in a nearby town. The owner and the staff got to know me and I enjoyed going in there to talk about races, shoes, gear, etc...Over time, it became inconvenient for me to go there. They closed before I got home from work and closed early on Saturday before the Sabbath ended. The apparel and other gear were all name brands and very expensive.
Slowly but surely I found myself going to a nearby big box running store to support my running habit.Their prices are good, they are open late during the week and Saturday night, and their selection of stuff is much larger and they have something for every budget. What I missed were the personal touches from the smaller store. No one got to know me, they didn't care about what I races I was running. They were only interested in making a sale.
A few weeks ago I was in the big box store to buy some stuff, and I heard a familiar voice. I looked around and found the source of the voice, it was the owner of the independently owned store. We started to chat and he told me that he has been trying to sell his store. Between the economy, on-line retailers, and big box stores, business was not good and he wanted to cut his losses. I felt bad for him but he said he's happy working in the big box store. His hours are more stable, he has benefits, a regular paycheck, and at the end of the day, he still gets to do what he loves.
Now that I know someone in the store, I'm starting to consider this particular big box store my local running shop. There is someone I can talk to about my running who is not just interested in making a sale. They are also involved in the Bergen County running community. They sponsor many races, and they organize group runs on the weekend albeit mainly on Saturday :(
I try as much as possible to support local, independently owned business. They give back to the community and get to know their customers.