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.