by Dante Zappala
The Saucony Triumph 10 is a loyal, sympathetic pair of shoes. You might think it’s odd that I refer to my shoes as I might a pet, but I spend a lot of time with my running gear. Some days it’s more than the time I get to spend with my kids.
The Triumphs weren’t an immediate hit, but they grew on me. I first bought them a year ago at Philadelphia Runner and, despite my best hopes for the shoe, it never maintained a steady presence in my rotation. The other shoes I had at the time didn’t play nice. The Wave Riders wanted all the attention. They were pink, after all. The Adidas Glide Boosts were the hot new kid on the block. So the poor Triumphs sat and waited for the occasional trip to the trails, usually on the days it rained.
But I slowly accumulated about 200 miles on them over the next eight months. When it came time to pack for Germany this summer, I was severely limited in what I could bring along. These shoes suddenly fit the bill. I could soundly put another hundred plus miles on them and let them double for everyday shoes (something one should never do regularly with running shoes). By the end of our trip, I could ditch them before we left to make room for a few more kids’ books.
Then something strange happened when I was alone with these shoes out “lauffen im wald” around Deutschland. I fell in love.
But I am cruel. After all the excitement they gave me, I left them to rot in a barn outside of Berlin. I was done.
When I got home, Saucony went ahead and said they were done, too. They released the new model, the Triumph 11. The 10’s are dead. Except then there is that pesky Internet where nothing dies. I found myself staring on my screen at a shiny pair of new Triumph 10’s, size 11’s, white with green trim. It was like looking at your wedding picture, replete with the nostalgia and innocence it conjures. The kicker: they were $65, or half of what they cost me a year ago.
I relay this story in the context of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. For what I did next is a sin. I bought them from 6pm.com and had them on my feet in two days. It was like I renewed my wedding vows with a reception at McDonalds.
The reason this is a sin is that I know, deep in my heart, that I should shop exclusively at local running stores for my shoes. The expertise they provide is invaluable and worth paying retail. Even then, most stores are likely to give their regular customers a deal of some kind. Economically, the turnover of the money you spend at a local store is profound. Those dollars get spent over and over in your community. If you tire as I do of the big ticket, for-profit races that are proliferating, it’s your local running store that is behind the small 5k or trail race.
I’m sure this information is nothing new to you. Buy Local campaigns will be ever present this shopping season. And while it makes sense for all of these reasons and many more, I don’t recommend buying local just for the sake of it. You should, after all, support businesses you like and that provide a meaningful service to you.
Were I in the market for yoga pants (hey, you never know), I would be at Indigo Schuy on the Avenue in a blink. Why would I trek downtown to give Lululemon my money and support the corporatization of Zen?
I confessed my Sins of the Triumphs to Scott Tantino, the owner of the North Wales Running Company. He has built a fantastic business that now includes a second store in Phoenixville. Scott was an All-American at the distance powerhouse Villanova. But before that, he was a kid I knew from Methodist Summer Camp. I felt I could count on him to forgive me.
His stores exist because of his love of running and his desire to share that with as many people as possible. They are not there to turn a quick buck. His staff is rock solid. They don’t up-sell. They simply want to help you find the right pair of shoes so that you can enjoy running. His is the exact kind of business that I should be supporting year round.
So, why did I buy those shoes on the Internet? The transaction was ridiculously easy, where it’s a little bit of a hike for me to get up to North Wales. Scott probably wouldn’t have had that shoe as the new ones were on the shelf. But then I didn’t ask, either. I’ve gotten clear-outs from him before.
I’m also running a ton, and this means new shoes every two months or so. Shoes typically cost more than $100, which can add up quick. I reasoned some kind of balance in my head.
I probably did it for the same reason I hold onto my Amazon Prime account. There is principle and there is reality, and those two things are like a Venn diagram. They are exclusive of each other and overlap in as many parts as we can muster.
Yes, Amazon is evil. Its recent dispute with Hachette left it looking like a greedy, money-sucking behemoth. The abuses at its warehouses are well documented. But I also have a relative who works at one of those warehouses. So far, he doesn’t mind it too much, and the health benefits he gets help support four kids. For him, it’s a good job.
These calculations all add a little gray to the vibrant display of holiday colors. The perfect remedy for me is a trip to my favorite running store and a chance to talk it over with a guy I respect. I don’t even have to buy anything.