Swags Sport Shoes Honored as One of the 50 Best Running Stores in America

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

Swags Sport Shoes (www.swagssportsshoes.com), one of our local running retail stores, was recently honored as one of the 50 best running stores in America by tow leading trade and consumer publications Running Insight and Competitor Magazine.

Swags Sport Shoes received a commemorative plaque and window decal for both of their locations at an Awards Ceremony in Austin, Texas in December. The award officially started in 2006 and this is the fifth time Swag’s has received an award. In fact, in 2009, Swags Sport Shoes was recognized as the 2nd best Running Store in America.

Mark Sullivan, editor of Running Insight, a Formula 4 Media publication, said “Specialty retailers are the heart and soul of the running business and it was my pleasure and privilege to recognize these stores for their excellence in customer service and community support.”

The Criteria for the Award

More than 1200 consumers nominated their favorite stores through www.competitor.com and the nominations were then vetted and the stores were put through a rigorous evaluation process, which included: 1. third party independent mystery shopper which had a gift card to buy something and they were to assess their service levels by using a 20-point evaluation, 2. an assessment rating by vendors to determine if the store was a good business partner and credit worthy, and 3. an assessment of their community service commitment to determine how the store serves  their local communities and support local charities and good causes.

The Secret Shopper Rating Report asked questions like how promptly were you greeted, did you get your foot measured, how many choices of items in your size and prices range were there, did you sales associate help you try on your shoe; on a scale 1 -5 (1- rude; 5 enthusiastic) select the level of professionalism like polite and respectful, on a scale 0-5 how knowledgeable was the staff; were the try-on socks available and clean; plus many more questioned to be answered about the service.

Swags Sport Shoes: A Community Legend

Swag Hartel was a talented runner who grew up in London, England. A shoulder injury while playing rugby changed Swag’s focus from rugby to running track. At the age of 14, he ran the half-mile in 2:08. As a senior, he ran a 1:50.8 and was the fastest 17-year-old half-miler in the world that year. In 1977, Swag moved to Louisville with fellow Britain, Nick Rose. Swag and Nick both ran competitively at Western Kentucky University. He ran competitively as a professional runner while managing Athletic Attic for 2 years. In April of 1985, Swag opened Swags Sport Shoes a couple blocks from Iroquois Park in South Louisville. The store was in a 1,500 square foot building and today he has a 4,500 square foot store. Swag prides himself on carrying a million of inventory with shoes in all sizes and all widths. He normal pricing is 15% off the retail price of the shoes.

Picture: Swag is helping Ashley Ragsdale with her walking shoes. Ashley has 3 kids and is a teacher who works part time at Brandeis Elementary School.

Swags Sport Shoes: Opens East End Location

In first quarter of 2011, Swag and long time friend and long time employee, Ed Craven, opened a second Swags at 9407 Westport Road in Westport Plaza. Ed starting working for Swags in the early 80s when he was attending to UL. Ed was also on the UL track team at the time. He continued to work at Swags until 1996 when he took a technical marketing job with Adidas America.  In 2000, Ed utilized his international studies education when he relocated to Germany to work for Adidas Global as an Adidas product expert.  While in Europe, he was working with the marketing of the new technical products and training product managers.

In 2010, married with a child on the way, Ed returned to Louisville and began working with Swag with the idea of opening a Swags East. Swag and Ed are partners in the new endeavor which is already in the process of expanding by doubling the store size.  The same customer service that Swag has extended in Swags South has helped to drive the need for an expansion at Swags East. The expansion will allow the store to carry not only running shoes and accessories but Swags East will also carry cleats for baseball, football and soccer, volleyball, cheerleading, cross trainers, tennis shoes and an assortment of other active lifestyle shoes and boots.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years. Barbara has a new health and wellness online magazine as well.