A treadmill might not be the first thing you’d picture in an athletic store, but for the skilled staff of Charlotte Running Co., it’s a key step in the art of finding the perfect fit. After lacing up or sweet-talking on a pair of shoes from Adidas, Nike, or Saucony, patrons hop aboard the treadmill, and the ‘gait analysis’ begins. Aided by a video feedback system, the specialists analyze each both the customer’s strides and the performance of the shoes to identify the ideal levels of support and cushioning, as well as the perfect fit–a process made much more precise by seeing the fancy footwear in action.
In addition to running shoes that can help increase speed and safety, Charlotte Running Co. can outfit its patrons in other jog-friendly gear. The FuelBelt keeps much-needed fluids at the ready on long runs, while shirts from Nike and Asics help to keep bodies cool, reducing runners' need to jog in the penguin habitat at their local zoo.
The brand American Apparel, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, conjures up images of stylish and well-fitting fashion basics. It also likely brings to mind sassy advertisements featuring long-haired beauties in natural makeup posing in skin-bearing bodysuits and loungewear.
But what many don't know about the brand—despite its name and the slice of apple pie that comes with every purchase—is that all of its clothes are made in America. Everything from sewing and cutting to accounting and marketing happens in one building in downtown Los Angeles, and the rest occurs within a 30-mile radius. Not only that, every slim-fitting pair of pants, spandex bodysuit, and v-neck T-shirt is made in a sweatshop-free environment.
Plus, keeping everything in house means the company eliminates unnecessary and wasteful factors, such as shipping fuel and packing materials, as well as provides jobs to Angelenos, instead of outsourcing them.
In TrySports's perfect world, everyone would aspire to a higher level of fitness and healthiness. Whether they choose running, swimming, cycling, charging into triathlons, or sweating through a gym regimen, customers receive help from the staff in acquiring the supplies they need to reach an improved state of physical wellness. They custom-fit shoes by analyzing each patron's gait and help to select bicycles according to legs' length and mouths' ability to make motorcycle noises. The crew also curates a collection of water bottles, wristwatches, nutritional supplements, apparel, and cushy insoles to further ease athletic pursuits. The colorful array of products bears labels from brands including Under Armour, Mizuno, Asics, Brooks, Saucony, Hoka, Altra, and Colombia, which prepares patrons to sprint through races or catch up to the one guy who knows the rules for competitive hide-and-go-seek.
At The Last Word, wheat-hued shelves lead in all directions, weighed down with an enormous selection of gently used books, as well as a collection of DVDs, and gaming consoles. Authors such as Cormac McCarthy and Ralph Ellison peer from racks of employee selections beneath the vinyl records that adorn the walls, and glass cases packed with trading cards glint in the sunlight. Strict quality standards govern the state of all the items. Most are 50-80% off their normal retail price despite being in good condition, and the staff makes a conscious effort to purchase a variety of quality media rather than pamphlets entitled Thee Faxe Machine is an Entirely Infuriating Devil. The shop is peppered with floral armchairs, in which patrons curl up, sip coffee, and browse book recommendations with their laptops on free WiFi.
When discussing the inspiration behind Avalilly's Boutique with reporters from Lake Norman Woman magazine, Emily Haggart explained that she "had a love of fashion from the day she was born." Armed with her keen, evolving aesthetic sense and a sharp entrepreneurial mind, Emily fills her shop with rotating seasonal inventory of designer clothing.
A trio of mannequins garbed in vibrant dresses, necklaces, and scarves greets visitors to Emily's shop. Inside, a kaleidoscope of colors dangles from racks, making up an array of tops, bottoms, and coats from names such as Joe's Jeans, Michael Stars, and Alice & Olivia. Stacks of crisp blue designer jeans line the shelves while ornamental display trees glimmer with bangles, earrings, and rings that entice the eye.
Owner Jessie Smith and the staff at Barefoot Archery maintain a pro shop packed with an all-encompassing array of gear for enthusiasts of all skill levels, from dedicated hunters to hobbyists. Every time a customer purchases a bow from the shop, one of Barefoot Archery's experts takes time to show him or her how to properly wield and maintain the new piece, reducing the chance that customers will accidentally pull the self-destruct string. Jessie also relishes the opportunity to teach youngsters the art of the bull’s-eye through Junior Olympic Archery Development classes held in the shop's indoor range.