The staff at New Balance isn't concerned with simply selling shoes—their mission is to pair customers with the footwear that will carry them comfortably through life’s arduous steps. Understanding that an ill-fitting pair of athletic shoes can cause pain to joints and potentially damage knees, hips, and the back, associates measure the length and width of each client's foot and conduct a gait analysis to chart the trajectory of their stride when walking normally or running through ball pits. The data are collected to help the staff match clients with their ideal shoe, keeping them running longer and looking good while doing so.
For more than 25 years, Play It Again Sports stores have bedecked kids and adults with high-end, wallet-friendly athletic armor so that they can kick, swing, punt, and take exception to referee calls with gusto. New inventory arrives consistently, and the friendly staff can lead quality-seeking shoppers to the top brands lining the spacious storefront shelves, including TaylorMade, Nike, adidas, Easton, and more. Prices vary by item, but you'll have enough credit to purchase many different athletic accouterments. Little sluggers can chase down fly balls in fresh cleats (starting at $8.99) and divot devotees can sink far-reaching holes-in-one or knock the top hats off haughty pelicans with the help of an arsenal of eager golf balls (starting at $5/dozen). A selection of cast-iron dumbbells (starting at $0.59/pound) prepares biceps and pectorals alike for the inevitable day when the performance-enhancing effects of weightlifting are legalized in sports again. Because of rapid growth patterns and rampant milk abuse, modern kids can grow out of their pads and kickers virtually at will; customers are encouraged to bring in old or outgrown sports equipment for cash or store credit.
Owned and operated by experienced runners, Columbus Running Company strives to support the benefits of walking and running by providing a wide variety of gear, personalized service, and community support. The store is stocked with goods that range from the necessary basics to accessories bursting with more technology than a remote-controlled hummingbird. Slip on a pair of sleek Saucony Guide 4 ($99.99) or Brooks Adrenaline GTS ($100) foot helmets and test them out on the in-store treadmill before setting out to find the meaning of life on a literal cross-country run. The Black Diamond Cosmo headlamp illuminates nighttime runs, making joggers visible to drivers and spontaneously appearing portals to the underworld visible to joggers ($29.99). For shins and calves that are feeling down in the dumps, Zensah compression sleeves provide needed support with gradient compression and strategic ribbing that increases blood flow, making muscles feel as limber as a spider monkey sipping on a wine cooler ($39.99).
Though fourth-generation dairy farmer Jim King and his wife, Angel, craft the artisanal cheeses at Blue Jacket Dairy, it’s fair to say that the creamery is a fifth-generation family business. The youngest members of the King clan are already hard at work sticking labels on finished wedges of cheddar, quark, and mozzarella, as well as learning to communicate with cows through telepathy. The King family uses small-scale equipment to produce both fresh and aged cheeses, including its signature Gretna Grilling—a semisoft, halloumi-style cheese made with pasteurized whole milk. In addition to chevre, mozzarella, and feta cheeses, Blue Jacket’s team makes small batches of fresh, unaged cheddar curds, which it prepares plain or flavored with dill, chipotle, garlic, or ranch.
One of the East Coast's best-known members-only wholesale retailers, BJ's Wholesale Club serves more than six million members in 200 clubs as far west as Ohio. Within these sprawling locations, savvy shoppers knock out most of their errands in a single stop. In the same visit, members can stock up on economy-sized groceries–including USDA choice meats, farm-fresh produce, and everyday essentials–grab name-brand electronics, get their vision checked at BJ's Optical, and even plan a vacation through BJ's Travel. Each service makes up a single part of the club's well-rounded retail experience, but simplifying shopping isn't BJ's Wholesale Club's only goal; in 2012 alone, the company donated more than $3.2 million to charitable organizations.