There are a dizzying number of big box and sporting goods chain stores which offer a wide variety of footwear for dedicated runners, weekend joggers and those who need something to keep their feet from hurting while doing an occasional charity 5K. Few such stores, however, are staffed by people who have more than a passing knowledge of their product or who have gotten to know the customers who enter their stores. Fortunately there are still old-school family-run sporting goods stores that not only know both their customers and their products, but who take pride in finding the right shoe for the right person for the right kind of running. Here are several of the best places to buy running shoes in Boston.
Heartbreak Hill Running Company
652 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02118
With stores on Mass Ave in Cambridge, Comm Ave in Newton and Tremont Street in the South End, the Heartbreak Hill Running Company quite literally has the Boston area covered when it comes to all things running – and that includes the shoes to help their customers keep moving. They sponsor free running clubs, hold special classes on how to run properly, safely and get the most out of the sport, and, of course, sell all the gear – especially the foot gear – to properly outfit their clientele. Founded in 2009 by two local lads who were also co-captains of their Boston College track and field teams, Heartbreak Hill Running Company is not just about the kit but is all about the fit. Their staff are professionals who know, understand and use what they sell. How many chain stores even know what a “personalized gait analysis shoe fitting” is let alone how to do it. At Heartbreak, a runner goes home with a lot more than just a pair of shoes.
1638 Beacon St.
Brookline, MA 02445
Marathon Sports may have grown to a dozen stores, but all are in Massachusetts and many are in and around that part of the state where they started – Boston. The staff at the Boylston Street store right in the heart of the city, as well as those in Brookline, Cambridge, Shrewsbury and Wellesley, take great pride in having their stores repeatedly named at the top of their trade in the annual Best of Boston awards. They have won the title so many times since opening their doors in 1975 that they are now listed in the Best of Boston Hall of Fame – and with good reason. At Marathon, it is not the sale but “the right fit” as their motto proudly proclaims. The subtitle to that motto, moreover, “pain-analysis-solutions,” best describes their philosophy, what they do for their customers, and why their customers keep coming back – even one would say running back – to their stores time and time again. With three stores along the course of the Boston Marathon, they have become synonymous with the annual event, and one of the places where serious participants in that race come to get the right shoes. Marathon Sports has built up more than just a clientele, however, it has also built up a community, sponsoring running clubs, scenic runs along the Charles and special “vendor visit” nights where companies and experts can show off the best and latest shoes, clothing and other materials and practices which make running safer, healthier and more fun for all.
220 Boylston St., Suite 18
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
The “True Runner Zone” at the True Runner store in Chestnut Hill is a second home for some of Boston’s most dedicated cross-country, marathon and other competitive runners. The staff, however, treats even the newest casual walk-in with the same kind of respect it does to its more elite and regular customers – and offers them the same unique, personalized service. Using the latest technology to analyze a customer’s gait and arch the professionals at True Runner truly believe that they can find not just the right shoe but the perfect shoe for clients. Like similar stores in the area, they are also a place where runners can connect with others of like interests – whether it is to join a group that goes for casual, scenic jogs around town or whose members work hard to push themselves and each other to become what the store calls a “true runner.”
Related: Boston’s Best Scenic Running Paths
New Balance Boston
583 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116
With an in-store “New Balance Fit Specialist” to ensure the customer gets the perfect shoe for their needs, New Balance Boston guarantees that they can “Make Excellence Happen” for their customers. From its humble origins as an arch-support specialty shoe store back in the early 1900s, New Balance has grown to become the place to go for generations of Boston’s best and most dedicated runners – and to those who want to be like them. This is the kind of store where you make an appointment to get fitted, and fitted by a professional.