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Runner's Alley opens Concord store today

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 07. 2014 8:54PM
Sean Gray stocks a wall of merchandise at the new Runner's Alley store. in downtown Concord. 

CONCORD — Runner’s Alley, which provides hands-on service to sell its footwear, is expanding its footprint.

The New Hampshire company opens its fourth store today on North Main Street, diagonally across from the State House.

“We kind of heard the call from the Concord community,” manager Sean Gray said this week.

Gray said he estimated the Manchester store, where he had worked, drew up to a quarter of its customers from the Concord area.

At the Manchester store, colorful running gear greeted customers while sales staff offered advice on the proper shoe.

“Most people who come in are looking for some guidance,” said Katie Trice, a sales associate at the Hanover Street location.Trice convinced customer Ann Marshall she needed a half-size bigger in her Saucony running shoe.

Marshall said she chose this store over a national department chain “because they help you out like this and Kohl’s doesn’t.”

With less than 48 hours before left before its opening, the Concord store awaited its sidewalk awning, and mannequins waited to be clothed.

Gray said the Concord store will carry 50 to 60 models each for men and women. Prices range from $89.99 to $174.99.

An organized 3-mile run is planned for 6 p.m. today from the Concord store.

The Concord store opens everyday at 10 a.m. It closes at 5 p.m. on the weekends, 8 p.m. on Thursdays and 6 p.m. on the remaining weekdays.

Owner Jeanine Sylvester said the stores attract a wide demographic of customers.

“We go from the high school athlete, even the middle school athlete, to senior citizens,” she said. “Everyone’s trying to stay in shape these days.”

Gray said the sales staff will ask customers to run barefoot in the store to examine their gait before recommending a shoe.

“How their foot is landing” and the position of their hips and whether their shoulders dip, he said.

A recent trend is for customers wanting more cushioning for support in their shoes.

“Anybody who’s serious about their running and fitness wants to make sure they have the right shoe,” Sylvester said.

She opened the Portsmouth location in 1997, Manchester in 2001 and Nashua in 2009.

“Most of it is need-based,” she said.

The Concord location will mean “we’ll get a lot more customers up north and further west,” she said.

Sylvester doesn’t think outlet stores in Tilton threaten her business.

“We don’t think our customer is the same customer shopping the outlets,” she said.

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