I've been buying running shoes at Second Sole since the day I first stepped foot in the store. It's a tried and true method. The shoes (and socks, clothes, gloves, gel, hats, watches, etc.) that I buy there come with years of expertise behind them. Sure, you'll find shoe "experts" at big chain stores, but you won't find someone who will remember exactly what kind of runner you are. I trust Bill the way I trust my orthopedic physician. Why shouldn't I? Buying the right pair of running shoes is a major investment in the future and I want to get the right ones to stay injury-free. How do I know they'll be the right ones? Because they come with many years of sound advice based on many years of feedback.
Buying shoes (buying anything) is not easy for me. I have been told my running gait represents about ten percent of the running population. What this translates to is that shoe companies won't sell many shoes designed for someone like me and I usually fall victim to the "Great Discontinued Shoe Syndrome" (GDSS). The GDSS means that everytime I find the perfect running shoe, it is discontinued or altered. The New Balance 826. Gone. The Saucony Azura. Gone. The Adidas Ozweego. Changed. It's an endless cycle. Bill understands this, and he's always there to find the next shoe in the (inevitable GDSS) line. At times, he has even stashed away extra pairs of "my" shoes for me because of the GDSS.
So, when I read that my current favorite shoe, the Asics Speedstar, has been.. em.. "changed," I decided it was time for a trip to Second Sole to find a new favorite shoe. This time, Bill brought out the "non-A" brands (i.e., not Adidas or Asics). Instead, I tried a Nike, a Brooks, and a Saucony, and, surprisingly enough, I went home with the Scott Makani II. I've never worn a Scott shoe. I've only recently heard they exist (Scott makes bikes, right?). But I'm not worried. When I put them on, they felt like an old friend. Just like Bill. And, he throws in a discount -- but he doesn't have to. I'll still buy the shoes and come back for more.
So, in deference to all the Bills and all the Second Soles in the world, here's my advice. Support your local independent running/tri/bike store. They hang out with runners/triathletes/bikers. They take the time to get to know you and will give you sound advice over and over. You might even find new training partners when you visit the store. Trust me on this one.