I don’t know about your neighbourhood, but in mine, I’m seeing more and more signs encouraging us all to shop local. Signs like: “Buy local…or bye, bye local” and “#thinkoutsidethebigbox.”
As the proudly independent owner of an independent Toronto running store, I couldn’t agree more. Sure, it’s good for my business if you patronize The Runners Shop instead of a big chain or (*gasp*) Amazon! But, shopping local doesn’t just benefit my bottom line. It comes with a host of other benefits – for you and our communities.
Here are just three of the most powerful reasons to keep it in the hood.
Local businesses support other local businesses. For example, we use Mile 1 Delivery, a pandemic start-up that has created local jobs through its personal delivery service. Mile 1 Delivery came to our rescue during the first lock-down when I was losing my mind trying to do all the deliveries on my own.
While The Runners Shop might be your initial destination, once you’re here, you’ll definitely want to check out the many other businesses and services in our neighbourhood. For all the triathletes and duathletes out there, Curbside Cycle is just a few doors down. The JCC across the street provides virtual fitness classes, and of course, you can’t beat Cobs Bread for carbo loading or just plain pandemic comfort food.
If that isn’t persuasive enough, consider this: One Chicago study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the city. Compare that to $43 when you spend $100 at a chain retailer.
At The Runners Shop, one of our mantras is “expertise without ego.” Yes, we’re knowledgeable – we wouldn’t be where we are without years and years of experience – but more importantly, we care! About each and every one of you. And we are here to help each and every one of you, whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a newbie who’s just starting to dip a toe in the water.
When you shop at TRS, you can drop by and use our handy curbside bench to try on shoes. Or take them home to try them on (indoors, please) and bring them back if they don’t fit. When you can actually see and touch the product, as well as have a (masked) face-to-face conversation with a real human, you’ll be happier and more confident in your purchasing decisions.
What’s more, being an independent gives me and TRS staff the freedom to make buying decisions based on what you, our customers, want. And we can pivot quickly when the situation changes – like it has this year. With gyms closed and more and more people running outside this winter, we have seen an unprecedented demand for cold weather gear. It’s been our pleasure to educate our customers on the features of different products and help you select the gear to keep you toasty, warm and comfortable, no matter what Mother Nature throws at us.
Having moved to our current Bloor Street West location only weeks before the first lockdown last March, we worried that we would have trouble finding our legs within the local community. As it turned out, we could not have joined the Annex community at a better time!
What we were able to do is support and guide so many new runners through this unexpected running boom and connect with so many people, occasionally in the store, more often at curbside.
Also, when not in lock-down, we welcomed many new people to our run club. There are oodles of different run clubs and crews across the GTA. If you take a close look at them, I’m certain you’ll see that they all have unique personalities. Their neighbourhoods, their originators, the coaches and the members themselves all combine to create a special DNA.
One thing I’ve noticed about our club, being so close to the University of Toronto and University Avenue hospital row, is that we have a lot of doctors, scientists, librarians and academics. If you ever go down on a run, know that you’ll be in good hands! (And, more than likely, there will someone there to document it.)
Personally, I most value the community that running provides and the simple enjoyments that are found in connecting with people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. The face of our TRS run club reflects that, I hope. It’s community first, no matter how often, how fast or how far you might run.
While I’m on the topic of the community, I want to give a shout out to the Annex BIA. From welcoming TRS to the neighbourhood to helping us navigate government regulations and Covid assistance programs, they’ve been amazing. Thank you, Annex BIA.
So….next time you need to buy something, think twice about ordering from Amazon. Instead, call your local store, then run – or walk – there to pick it up. You’ll be supporting local businesses, encouraging entrepreneurship, connecting with a community of like-minded souls – and getting some exercise to boot!
The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.
~George Sheenan, M.D., Author of Going The Distance
If you’d asked me when I was 20 what I’d be doing in 2020, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have said “running a running shop.”