I must confess – when we are home, the brown truck pulls up in front of our house multiple times a week.
Online shopping can be convenient. When you need that something that you’ve ordered many times, there is nothing like going online and, with a few key strokes & two days, it arrives at your door.
But, the local store also needs to continue to have our patronage – especially sports shops.
Ask a cyclist about their LBS (local bike shop) and you will most likely hear stories that far surpass a place that sells bikes and cycling accessories. It is a place of gathering in the cycling community, where rides originate, mechanics work miracles, and expert advice & fittings can make the difference in a ride.
Having moved around a bit, we’ve experienced some great local sports shops. Here’s a sampling of some of our favorites.
Local Hiking Shop: Mountain Hideout in Dallas
One day about 13 years ago, we parked alongside the road near the Continental Divide in Colorado and got out to go for a hike.
It was cold and windy. If you’ve ever skied a windy day at Loveland – you know the cold I’m talking about. By the time we got our gear out of the back, my hands were frozen. It was a miserable hike and this was just before we were going to Kilimanjaro.
Living in Dallas at the time, we went straight to our local hiking store – Mountain Hideout. A great store, the staff and owners always had expert advice and would do whatever it took to try and solve our needs. I told them I needed the warmest gloves made. They went into the back and came out with North Face Himalayan Mitts. I asked them if they had two pair, they produced another set, and we were on our way.
In the image below, taken on Mt Shasta shortly after, they are hanging around my neck.
I used the mitts on Kilimanjaro, never got cold hands, and still ski in them today.
Sadly, as I wrote this, I discovered the store is closing.
Local Bike Shop: Wheat Ridge Cyclery
When we moved to Denver in 2011 we needed new bikes. Ours had been stolen from a storage unit and we wanted something to tackle the many cycling opportunities the Denver, Boulder and Golden area has to offer.
Wheat Ridge Cyclery came highly recommended, so we paid them a visit. The shop had been started in 1973 by Eugene Kiefel and is now run by his son, former professional cyclist and 7-Eleven rider, Ron.
Working with one of the staff, we told them what our price range was, where we planned to ride, etc. and they assisted with our selection. For me, they produced what is still my girl. I know she’s getting up there in the years, but I still love her.
My bike had actually been customized for a local racer who then decided on something else. I swapped out the seat for something a tad more comfy, they did a refitting for me, and I rode off into the hills.
We put over 3,000 miles on our bikes that summer in Denver and were frequent Wheat Ridge Cyclery visitors, always receiving great personal service.
Local Ski Shop: Hamilton Sports / Miller Sports in Aspen
There’s nothing like ending a great ski day with a visit to your favorite ski shop. As the door shuts behind you and you leave the cold and snow behind, the warmth of the shop and the smell of ski wax fills the air.
For us, that ski shop is Hamilton Sports in Aspen. Owned by former speed skier, Bill Miller, Hamilton Sports and now a second location, Miller Sports, are examples of authentic ski shops. It’s a place where skiing is a passion, questions are answered by experts, and only the best will do.
Skiing equipment is expensive and not really an area where you should venture out on your own. Expert advice can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars, and make your day on the hill a much better experience.
Local Running Store: Reno Running Company in Reno
So, I recently got this crazy idea to run a half marathon. Given that I haven’t run in decades and have plantar fasciitis, why not?
I had done a boot camp about 5 years ago and discovered my plantar fasciitis three days into the camp, which resulted in acquiring new running shoes with custom orthotics.
A few days into my half marathon training, the plantar fasciitis reappeared. Thinking my shoes were probably a bit worn, we went to Reno Running Company for new shoes.
Over two visits, Ivy and Joseph patiently worked with me as I tried shoe after shoe after shoe. In the end, once I told Joseph that I also had knee pain when running, he suggested the Hoka One Ones. My custom orthotics fit in them and Joseph even taught me how to tie a runner’s knot. Awesome.
The takeaway: Support your local sports shop
Whether running, skiing, cycling or hiking – or whatever your chosen activity – the expert advice found at a local store is valuable and can make the difference in your success, enjoyment and safety.
Running a local shop is expensive and online competition will only continue to increase. Make a commitment to make sure these valuable resources stick around.