652 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02118
It doesn’t get any more local than this. This South End neighborhood athletic shop is well known to runners in the city of Boston. It carries a discerning selection of brand name running shoes and comes armed with the knowledge needed to find the right pair for you. At South End Athletic Company, you don’t just try the shoes on. Come in expecting to spend some time on the treadmill so the staff of experts can help match the right shoe to your running style.
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Hilton’s Tent City
272 Friend St.
Boston, MA 02114
If your sports tend towards the outdoorsy, give Hilton’s Tent City a try. Do not be fooled by the small storefront on Friend Street. This place is jam packed with four floors of gear that you need for your next outdoor adventure. Whether you’re a hiker, skier or camper, you’ll find a great selection of gear to fit your needs here. But it’s the staff that really pushes this onto any “best of” list. The employees don’t just know about the products, they are avid users themselves, and there’s nothing that beats that kind of firsthand knowledge.
Back Bay Bicycles
362 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
Even if you aren’t particularly sporty, owning a car in the city can be a hassle. Owning a bike, on the other hand, is easier, good for you and good for the environment. Enter Back Bay Bicycles. Need gear for your bike? This shop has it. Need your bike fixed? This shop can do that, and at a very reasonable price. Need a bike, period? Yup, you can buy your new bike from Back Bay too. It even offers free tune-ups for life.
1898 Centre St
West Roxbury, MA 02312
As the name implies, you’ll find a great mix of winter sports gear as well as year-round sporting equipment here. This store has been a Boston landmark for more than 25 years. Part of what has kept it going for so long is the store’s focus on affordability. In fact, Wicked Sharp Ski and Sports even offers great deals on gently used sporting goods. There is truly something for every budget in this shop.
Beacon Hill Skate Shop
135 Charles St.
Boston, MA 02116
If you’re used to big box sporting goods stores, then Beacon Hill Skate Shop might surprise you. Walk in and you’ll find one fairly small space with big piles and jumbles of everything skate related — ice skating, roller skating, even skateboarding. But simply tell the staff what you’re looking for and you’ll be amazed at how quickly they can find exactly what you need. This is a full-service skate shop. Even after you buy your equipment, you’ll keep coming back for parts and service.
Renee Mallett is the author of several books about art, culture, and New England. She was the owner and director of an art gallery and has written about arts and entertainment on a national level for several print and online journals. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.