November 19 - 21, 2024 | Austin Convention Center | Austin, TX

Secret Shop Criteria

After carefully evaluating all Best Running Stores nomination forms, The Running Event team will select approximately 100 stores to be secret shopped. To make the process as transparent as possible, we’ve outlined the 2022 secret shop criteria on this page. 2023 criteria will be reflected later in the year, once finalized.

Over the last few years, there has been an influx of new runners in our communities; bringing these individuals into the world of run specialty is vital to the future of the industry. That is why the 2022 secret shop component of our store assessments was through the lens of a new runner as they experienced entering a run shop for the first time.

Many aspects of what has been evaluated in the past remained the same, but it’s more important than ever for new runners to feel welcome during their first run specialty shopping experience.


  • Review the store’s social media pages before visiting.
  • Consider the knowledge and professionalism of the sales associate that helped when you called the store.

In Store Experience

  • Were you greeted and made to feel welcome when you entered the store?
  • Was the store laid out in a way that was easy to navigate?
  • Did the Sales Associate ask questions about your intended usage and why you were looking to purchase new shoes?
  • Did the Sales Associate use a fitID method/device, watch you walk, and/or measure your feet to get an accurate fit?
  • Did the associate recommend specific shoes or types of shoes?
  • Were you made to feel comfortable while you were trying on shoes? (Did they rush you? Did your sales person give you individual attention?)
  • Did the associate help you understand your options for what shoes would work best based on your needs?
  • Did the associate explain why they were recommending a specific shoe or type of shoe? For example – based on your gait, what you’re training for, etc?
  • After the sales associate helped you find footwear, did they suggest any other products? For example, socks, apparel, recovery tools etc.
  • Who was the sales associate that helped you?
  • Please rate the level of professionalism of the associate that helped you.
  • Were you asked to provide your mailing address or email address in some way during the checkout process?
  • Was the check-out process easy and customer friendly?
  • Were you thanked and/or asked to return?

Overall Experience & Feedback

  • Rate the assortment of accessory products (socks, apparel, insoles, water bottles, hats, etc.)
  • Please rate the overall ambience of the store, and add comments to support your answer. What details made the experience poor/average/ excellent?
  • Was the merchandise presented in a way that was easy to understand and shop?
  • How would you rate the overall experience as a new runner? Were you made to feel welcome and supported? Please add comments to support your answer. What details made the experience poor/average/ excellent?
  • Would you refer a friend to this store Please add comments to support your answer. Why or why not?
  • Please add any positive or negative feedback.

The Extras

  • Did the store share in conversation/display through signage any information about running clubs/groups? Were you made aware of any upcoming event, training program, or race through store signage and/or conversations with the associates?
  • Did the store share in conversation or have any information about their charities, donations, or give back programs?
  • What did you purchase? Please include a photo of the receipt.
  • We are evaluating run specialty stores and will honor the Best Running Stores in the US. We are unable to walk into each stores, so you are our eyes and ears. Please add any comments about your shopping experience, interaction with staff and store that we should take into consideration.
  • Which brands were pulled for you?

Secret Shopping Performed by:

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