Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Remarkable Shoe Buying Experience?

The other day I decided to get a bit more serious about my running and felt it was time to get my first pair of real running shoes. To date, I'd just go to the local big box sporting goods store and buy a pair of general purpose name brand shoes and wear them for just about all sports.

I got a recommendation from a colleague who's an avid runner to visit the Falls Road Running Store. I was in for a treat.

I was greeted by what I later found out was a staff made up of decorated and dedicated runners. I was asked to stand, walk, and run on a treadmill barefoot while my advisor carefully knelt down and looked at my gait from all angles. Within minutes, I had an analysis of how my foot made contact with the ground and had three pair of shoes designed to correct a slight defect I have in my step. I then repeated the treadmill test with each pair of shoes--each time under the supervision of the same advisor. Throughout the whole process I'm asking fairly detailed questions about recent articles I'd read on various shoes and learned right away what little homework I'd thought I'd done was a drop in the bucket for what there was to know. I learned a little about running form theory, recent historical trends in essentially running barefoot vs. using specially designed supportive shoes, that when you run your feet swell so you need to buy them one size larger than you would other shoes, etc. As I checked out, I was greeted by the owner who asked about my satisfaction with the transaction and offered some additional training helps and tips.

For the few minutes I was there I felt like I was in the hands of experts and could have been a professional athlete being sized up for a wind tunnel test at Nike HQ or something. Needless to say, I'll not be going back to a big box retailer for my shoes.

Despite being hard to find and literally a hole-in-the-way store, they've transformed shoe buying into a remarkable experience. Can our customers (internal and external) say the same thing about what we do?

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