My wife and I were out and about Saturday when she noticed Fleet Feet, the running store in Brookfield, Wisconsin had a closeout sale going on.
After much arm-twisting, we walked in. They had several benches and shelves lined with shoe boxes discounted fairly significantly.
I looked through the selection in my size. They had Brooks Ghost, another Brooks I can’t recall the name, one pair of Hoka One One, which didn’t appeal to me like the Clifton did. Then the brands I usually just ignore, Mizuno, Underarmour, New Balance, and a few that didn’t even register.
I finally chose a pair of Altra Torin 2.5, which are much more neutral than my previous shoes, but I’ve always been intrigued by their wide toebox design, which reminded me of the old 1970s Earth Shoes, which also, if I recall, had a zero drop heel.
Then I went to talk my wife into a pair of shoes. She tried on one pair, which she liked, but wasn’t as keen on the Altra as I was. Then I saw a plain white box with simple blue lettering that said, “Karhu, the Finnish Sportsbear.”
I’d never heard of them, but if it’s Finnish, it’s got to be good, so I had her try them on. She really liked them.
At checkout, I asked about Karhu, and they said it’s a Finnish running shoe sold exclusively by Fleet Feet. I expressed my dismay that they didn’t have any in my size. (I had looked.)
They were nice enough to search and found a pair of Fluid 5 in size 12, about half a size larger than I normally take. I tried them on and they fit pretty well. So I got them as well.
The Karhu (left) and the Altra (right).
I asked why Fleet Feet was closing and they said not all Fleet Feet, just this location (unless I continued to buy more shoes) — the only location convenient to us. Their other stores will remain open.
Which is good, because how else will I get my Karhu fix?
I didn’t push them on the why, but I know exactly why. Fleet Feet is a full-service running shoe store. They give you personal attention, measure your feet, have you run on a treadmill to see your running mechanics, then they bring out several different styles of shoes they think will work best for you.
Because of this, their prices are closer to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. In other words, you can find the same shoes cheaper at other shoe retailers or online.
So people (read: assholes) will go into Fleet Feet, take advantage of all their services, find a shoe that suits them to a T, then they say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and they sneak off and purchase the shoes elsewhere for less.
In other words, people are more than happy to use their services, but would rather not pay for them. It’s a sad commentary.
I’ve run in each pair once now, so I can’t really given an opinion on them, other than to say both are much more minimalist than my Hoka One One Clifton 3 were (now retired and given to my son).
Maybe I’ll give a long term review on each sometime in the future.
Karhu Fluid 5:
Altra Torin 2.5:
Run. Buy new shoes. Run some more.