Run & Become London Store Review
Run & Become is stalwart of the London Running Scene and is known as the place to go for a good trainer fit experience with them offering a natural gait-analysis and letting you run in the trainers outside the store.
With more and more runners forfeiting the running machine and instead running outdoors, having the benefit of testing the trainer on the asphalt outside the store is a definite winner in my eyes. It is also known as having one the largest selection of trainers in store; around a 100 different models, in comparison to Runners Need and Sweat Shop generally very small selection: two other London Running Stores.
My visit to Run & Become London Store that is located on 42 Palmer Street, London, SW1H 0PH a short walk from St. James Park Tube Station was on a Saturday and I was in the hunt for some lightweight neutral trainers, good enough for some speed work, but also to get me through a 20km run. Saturday is also known as the day with the highest turnover, so generally only the most experienced sales assistants are at work. From the outside the shop looks like any other running store, with plenty of products to be seen through the window, but no window display to showcase a new product or a special product. Their window display could you use some updating, however upon entry in the store I could see why this was. Every area of the store was crammed with products. A slightly overwhelming feeling, which if you’re new to running, you will definitely need a helping hand from one the sales assistants. If you’re a seasoned pro, you might know your way better around the store, but their trainer wall, or for better words I should say wall in the plural form, as their must have been a good 100 models on display. I had the feeling that I should be able to find the correct trainer for me.
After a quick snoop around the store, one of their staff approached me and asked if I was looking for something particular. I explained what I was after and explained what I was running in the moment; Asics Gel-Lyte 33 2. This stumped the sale assistant, and in her words ‘I have not heard of that model’. Her colleague who was helping another customer quickly intervened and told her what shoe it was and that they did not stock it. The sale assistant advise and help was a total waste of my time with her suggesting only shoes that she clearly knew, and even suggesting as I was after a pair of lightweight trainers for speedwork, that I should look at the Vibram Fivefingers. She clearly did not listened to my brief that I also wanted something with a little cushioning as well. As her help was slightly lacking, I choose a few models myself to try on ranging from Mizuno Precision 13, Saucony Kinvara 4 and Brooks Pure Concept. However neither the Mizuno Precision 13 nor the Saucony Kinvara 4 did Run & Become have in my size, and the sales assistant brought over the previous version without informing me. If your new to running you might not have noticed this, but if you know your trainers, than this sales tactic is slightly disappointing.
I explained that I had no interest in getting a trainer version that already has been giving an update. My feeling is that due to the massive selection of trainers in Run & Become, that eventually the staff will find a trainer that might fit you, but which might not be ideal for you. Additionally the sheer numbers of trainers undermined the sale assistant at the same time, as her knowledge of trainer’s technical specification was rather poorly. We know that specialty running stores are struggling against the Internet, and one way to compete is to offer great advice and great selection. And with great selection I mean not 100 different models on display, but half at the most, to ensure the staff is properly trained and that the shopper is not overwhelmed by the choice. I know I was.
My feeling is that Run & Become is great store if you’re a new to running, as you will generally get good advice if you have the right person to advise you on the day, and most likely you will find a pair of trainers that will work for you. However in my case I found the service rather poorly, and the lady’s expertise and knowledge on the short side, with more shop floor and technical training a definite must for her. I left without a purchase of trainers which was slightly disappointing, but having seeing the massive choice of trainers upon arrival I should have know better.
Sometimes less is more.