Kelly and I never do this.
Not anymore, anyway. Not since having kids.
We’ve been friends for nearly 16 years, and in that time we’ve done our fair share of shopping together. First to buy décor for our apartments, work clothes, jeans that make your butt look good (the only thing jeans must do). We moved on to maternity clothes and then baby clothes and then more work clothes because your body isn’t the same.
You can’t go shopping with just anyone. You have to trust their opinion and recognize that while you may have different personal styles, you’ll still be honest with each other. And you know, no judging when someone buys yet another pair of ankle boots or whatever item they seem to have a ton of – for me, that’s shoes. And jeans. And navy blue anything.
Let’s start here: I’m not a huge shopper. I hate knickknacks and housewares. I don’t collect anything. I get most of my books from the library or Zandbroz Variety for book club.
But when Kelly suggested spending Saturday afternoon looking at running clothes at 605 Running Co. and then having coffee and browsing a few other stores, I was all in. It was a beautiful day – perfect to walk around downtown. And the kids each wanted to play with neighborhood friends, so I was content that they were occupied. Patrick went for a bike ride. The laundry could wait, and let’s face it, I’m apparently not going to actually put away any of my flower pots for winter – they’re just sort of rotting in the back yard and it seems fine.
It started out innocent, as all events like this do.
“I need to bring back these trail shoes I got and get a different pair,” I told Kelly when she picked me up. I had bought a brand I don’t normally wear from 605, and then decided I didn’t feel like trying anything new and never ended up wearing them.
We walked in and Greg laughed when he saw me.
“You can’t do it?”
“I can’t do it,” I laughed. “I want to just exchange these for new road shoes.”
Then he told me they were carrying Asics trail shoes – and I was sold. I know many folks love other brands, and I do, too – I loved a Mizuno trail shoe they don’t make anymore, and I have a Brooks trail shoe I like. But I still just love my old Asics trail shoes the best.
Then I had to cruise the sale shoes – and ended up with two pairs of road shoes, including a pair of Brooks they had encouraged me to try and I had loved. Same with a pair of New Balance – after not having run in them for a decade. Now? I love them again.
“How many different brands do you run in,” Kelly laughed.
We moved on to the tights. Socks. Gloves.
I bought a pair of multicolored tights that are so soft I want to just live in them. Kelly got insulated tights that were perfect the next morning, when the wind was blowing.
We went next door for lattes at Coffea – which was packed. I haven’t been there in a few weeks. The night before, we had been downtown for the Parade of Lights – which was wonderful – and had watched a line form out the door there and everywhere else.
“I feel bad,” Kelly said. “We didn’t buy anything for our kids, and it’s Christmas.”
It’s true. It probably wasn’t exactly in the spirit of the season, unless you consider spending time with friends just fine, and I do. I’ll save holiday shopping for another day, and procrastinate like usual.
One of the women who works at the Great Outdoor Store asked if I’m a big Black Friday shopper, and the truth is no. I tried to answer that I just like to go where I like to go, and don’t generally just go looking for sales on whatever’s available. I just don’t like big crowds that much, either.
But I started to wonder how much local shopping I could do. Would you consider HyVee local, or just regional? Could I try for even just a month to shop only local? I don’t know if I could. But I also didn’t know if I could commit to being a vegetarian and decided to just try for a month, and now it’s been nearly a year – with no intention of going back, ever.
And I never thought the day I started running that it would be a lifestyle I kept up for the next 30 years – next year will be three decades of running for me, from age 14 when I went out for track in high school. But that’s what happened. And it changed my life in so many ways over the years, helping me find my way and rescuing me when I needed it.
Trying to go hyper-local for a month is a conversation that’s happening in my house, at my urging. We’re already pretty good – going to local restaurants more often than not. And I think that, just like with anything, you’d have to figure out what works for you. I’m not sure I’ll take the challenge this year.
But I know this. I love walking into my local running store, or bookstore or outdoor store or neighborhood restaurant, and being greeted by name and having a friendly and knowledgeable staff know what I might like and suggesting it. Or setting a glass of wine and cocktail down in front of us before our coats are off.
Sure, it’s good service for the business – they want you to spend money there. I’m not naïve about the reasons for it.
But as a consumer, it keeps me coming back. It’s working, this whole consumer experience, where I feel like I matter when I walk in to buy shoes, or go to a group run, or take a yoga class. Or just to say hi because I’m in the neighborhood.
“Why don’t we do this more often,” Kelly said when she dropped me off.
I didn’t have a good answer for that. But I know we’re going to try.
Jacqueline Palfy is a longtime runner, reader and writer, marathoner, mom and board member of the nonprofit Sioux Falls Area Running Club. Her contributions to the 605 Running Co. blog will appear every other Tuesday. You can follow her on Twitter @runnerJPK or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Story ideas are encouraged.