Fleet Feet, multiple locations; fleetfeetnyc.com
Everyday trainers (from Hoka, Altra, and Brooks) are available at Fleet Feet, along with an assortment of gear (from Feetures, Vuori, and Garmin), but most regulars go there just to hang out. Triathlete Beverly Gantt got fitted for her first pair of running shoes at Fleet Feet back in 2021 and is now in the store all the time. “I meet my friends and teammates here,” she says, simply to chat about running and training. “It really feels like a community center.” The stores host weekly group runs across the city, and the Columbus Circle and Upper West Side shops offer free bag storage, which is particularly useful for runners in Central Park. Alysia Dusseau, a director of the Central Park Track Club and its women’s masters captain, says the lockers come in handy for her team’s weeknight practices in the park. “It’s a really nice feature for someone who doesn’t live close by,” Dusseau says. The employees are also extremely knowledgeable, especially when it comes to the often confusing world of energy gels. Thanks to an employee recommendation, running coach Simone Sampaio recently found a gel made with natural ingredients that works for her, as did Hector Santana, the founder of running group NYC Dragons, who says a Fleet Feet staffer convinced him to add a gel from Maurten to his hydration regimen — a tip that helped him shave 90 seconds off his half-marathon mile splits.