New England Running Company’s Monesky, 56, of Beverly, says the sport is gaining popularity because of a growing desire to get fit with others in 5K road races or fun runs that people are just happy to finish. Local running clubs like Wicked Running Club of Salem (wickedrunningclub.org), for example, hold a variety of group runs for its members, plus various races throughout the season.
Menosky, who hails from Youngstown, Ohio, was a competitive miler in the mid-1970s and 1980s until a car accident in 1987 ended his running career. He stayed involved in the sport, first working in sales and marketing for running-shoe maker Asics from 1990 until 1997, then as a buyer for Marathon Sports until 2003.
Menosky opened his store 11 years ago to capitalize on what he saw as an untapped market on the North Shore. Business has been steady, he said, partially because the shop gets involved in the community. His store sponsors a series of road races, from the Frosty Four on New Year’s Day to the Wild Turkey 5-mile Run in the fall.
The store’s expansion will allow it to carry more shoe brands for trail runners, who account for 5 percent of the shop’s business. About a quarter of his business comes from walkers.
Another way a small specialty store can distance itself from big competitors is through customer service, by helping with fit, analyzing a runner’s gait, and locating the right pair of running socks, Menosky said. A good running shoe, which will last 400 to 500 miles, costs about $100.
“We also allow (customers) to go outside for a little test drive,” Menosky said.
At Greater Boston Running Company’s new store in Swampscott, you don’t have to run outside to try out the shoe. The store offers a free gait analysis on a treadmill.