At Athens Running Company, shopping for running shoes is much like test-driving a car. As part of their mission to educate customers, owners and childhood friends Mark Schroeder and David Laggis consult closely with clients and perform complimentary fittings, whereby a foot scanner and a video gait analysis narrow down the best options for stability and comfort. Guests then slip their feet into the latest styles of footwear by the likes of Saucony, Asics, and Brooks before taking shoes for a 15-second spin on the shop’s treadmill so employees can evaluate their movement. Once customers have reviewed a selection of suitable pairs, they take the finalists out on an actual walk or jog, ensuring that the shoes give proper support by squeaking “great job” after every mile.
Aside from carrying shoes for all running disciplines ranging from light jogs to triathlons, the shop’s staff also outfits visitors with workout apparel and accessories, including compression gear, orthotics, heart-rate monitors, and jogging strollers. Despite the breadth of their catalog, Mark and David both reject the personal detachment of a large retail store. They invest in several local running programs, sponsoring races where they time the competitors and host finish-line services. Works by neighborhood artists decorate the shop’s walls, alongside leashes and pet jackets by Ruffwear—items of potential interest to Mark's dog, Sam, who accompanies his owner to work each day.
In 1993, after years as a tech in the carpet cleaning industry, Gregory Cole founded Pro Carpet as a one-stop shop providing the best carpet-cleaning practices he had learned during his career. Gregory's team, which now numbers more than 30 techs, begins each carpet-cleaning service with a thorough walk-through, during which customers can point out specific soiled areas before the techs evaluate carpets for their levels of dirt, stains, and rainbow sprinkles. As they begin to clean, they employ steam-based cleaning and stain-specific products, such as the company's proprietary enzyme-based pet-stain formula, to remove odors and soils.
Pro Carpet's expertise also extends beyond carpeting, tackling upholstery and area rugs with the same thoroughness. They can also be called upon to repair water damage, clean office cubicles, and sweep dust and allergens from inside air ducts with professional-grade tools that improve air quality.
From spacious locker rooms to family-friendly facilities, BodyPlex gyms are built to take the stress out of working out. Fitness machines ranging from cardio equipment to free-motion systems beckon those familiar with the gym scene to jump right into a regime. Newcomers need not stress about a learning curve, as personal instructors power walk the grounds, ready to give one-on-one instruction with an appointment. To ease the workout worries of parents, enthusiastic staff members man the gym's onsite Kidsplex, a youth-focused playroom stocked with crafts, toys, and two different video-game systems. Additionally, those who achieve their best when with like-minded people can break a sweat and their personal fist-bump record in one of the gym's daily fitness classes.
Boutier Winery's vinifera and French-American grape vines stretch across 32 rolling acres in Georgia's Piedmont region, awaiting artisanal transformation into award-winning varietals. Wine tastings draw visitors into the vineyards for fragrant sips paired with the rich notes of chocolates and gourmet cheeses. Vintner Victor Boutier's prizewinning wines include Geordeaux, a blended bordeaux that won a bronze medal in the 2011 San Francisco International Wine Competition. Other specialties range from corcordance gold medal winning Diva 'Licious, a scrumptious peach brew, to a chardonnay crafted entirely from Georgia-grown grapes.
The foot-embellishing fashionistas at Shue Clawset dispense a plethora of voguish women's footwear in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes at affordable prices. Trend-blazing customers can tart up their tootsies with pumps, dressy sandals, and heels in closed-toe and peep-toe styles, or prep for fancy poodle rodeos by strapping into chic boots in ankle-high, mid-calf, and knee-high styles. Peruse a selection of sunglasses, or try on a pair of black strappy sandals ($27.99), white studded zipper heels ($28.99), or navy suede pumps ($28.99). Footwear sizes range from 5 to 10 and include half sizes, as well as 11 in certain styles, ensuring each pair is doubly comfortable for those who walk exclusively while doing handstands.
In addition to hosting cultural events, the independently owned Dog Ear Books stocks thousands of used books and vinyl records. Bibliophiles can peruse the stacks in search of page-turning paperbacks, brain-nourishing novels, and manuals outlining how to build tennis-playing robots. Books generally range from $1 to $20, though Dog Ear offers some rare volumes with much higher price tags. Music mavens will discover a treasure trove of vinyl records ($3 to $12 on average) that capture the unfiltered essence of sound and double as dinner plates. The shop also fosters an intellectual community through events, such as signings, poetry readings, open mics, and live music, and houses ample space for book-club meetings and the general exchange of mind-bending ideas.