We recently had a question in the group from a new member who was wondering where to buy minimalist running shoes.
We got a good response that ranged from specialist retailers where you can call in for a chat and expert advice to the big corporations who stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap but couldn’t care less about your running or wellbeing.
I guess it depends what you are looking for. If you are new to the whole barefoot/minimalist thing then you may be looking for a good chat and some advice before buying then there are a number of retailers who are specialists.
Here are a few who I know will do a good job. It is meant as a starting point. If you know of any more then let us know in the forum.
Barefoot Britain – Run by Tracy Davenport. Tracy is a barefoot runner and specialises in Sockwa and Xero shoes. She also sells Luna Sandals and a Luna DIY kit. My first pair of Xeros and my Sockwas came from Tracy. Her customer care is excellent and she will spend as much time as you need having chat about sizing etc before you buy.
Footworks – Run by Colin McPhail in Edinburgh and a specialist in barefoot/minimal running. Colin also organises and hosts the Scottish Barefoot Conference and has a good reputation amongst our group members for spending time making sure that runners get the right thing for them. I always think of Colin as a specialist in Vibram Fivefingers but they also stock Lunas, Xero, Vivobarefoot and others.
Primal Lifestyle – Run by Matt Wallden. Matt is the UK distributor for VFF and very knowledgeable. He often pops up in our group to offer advice on VFF and all things barefoot and minimalist. He is well placed to point you in the right direction if you are lookiong to try on a pair of VFF and need to know you nearest retailer. You can also buy online from their VFF store.
Ten Point – Run by Helen Hall. Helen is a barefoot triathlete (understatement of the year) and coach. She runs a Tri-store in Amersham, Bucks and she is very knowledgeable. Helen was the first person to ever look at my running form and she nailed it in the first 50m. A knowledgeable person to chat to.
Born Barefoot – Run by James Anelay. James runs an online store that specialises in VFF, Lunas, Merrell and Lems. My trusty VFF EL-X came from James and I visited him last year with my son as he hosted a session with Barefoot Ted.
Xeros shoes – Run by Steven Sashen and Lena Phoenix. When I ask a question, Steven is usually the first to repsond and the great thing is that you can buy Xeros from them in the US and they will ship quickly all over the world. Their website is a great barefoot resource and well worth checking out.
XeroshoesUK – Run by Simon Hanna. Simon runs a very similar website to Steven and Lena in the UK. My 4mm Xerosand my children’s Xeros all came from Simon ages ago. The 4mm are still going strong.
Go-St Barefoots – Run by Jorg Peitzker. The home of the amazing chainmail Paleobarefoots. I have two pairs courtesy of Jorg and they are the real deal. Great customer service. Certainly one of my favourite things to run in.
Softstar – Founded by Tim and Jeanie Oliver and run by the Softstar Elves. If you want to find Softstar shoes (and they are lovely) then you might have to go direct to Softstar themselves. They are a fmily run business and intend to remain that way. I have a pair of Moc 3s and they are just lovely to wear. Now and again, they have a sale where the things left get cheaper every day.
Luna Sandals – Run by Barefoot Ted. My first pair of Lunas came direct from Ted in the US way before the introduction of fancy ATS laces. I love them. It is very easy to buy direct from there and get them sent to all over the world.
Feetus – Run by Lee Firman. Lee runs an online store based up in the north east. Feetus mainly specialises in Vibram Fivefingers, Luna Sandals, Xero Shoes and Iguaneye.
Barefoot Running Store – Run by me! – Here is the place to get hold of zero drop fell running shoes from Walsh. I am not trying to take over the world with these shoes but they are awesome if you need to race down a muddy hillside. Plus they are made in my hometown of Bolton. I have been working with them for a little while and you can find out a little more by visiting the store.
The big boys who don’t really care about your feet, just your money!
I wasn’t sure whether to include these but they are a reality and we are all consumers. After wrestling with my conscience for a bit, I decided that you needed to know the full picture and decide for yourselves. The decision is yours.
Amazon – There are tales of folk knowing what they want and finding it at a discount on Amazon.
Sports Pursuit – I know folk who have bought cheaply from Sports Pursuit. They have a VFF sale periodically which seems popular.
My advice would be to form a relationship with one of the retailers who really knows what they are talking about. You may want plenty of advice after you have bought a pair. This was one of the reasons I started to guest post on Barefoot Britain. Buying the right shoes is important but what you do and don’t do in them is more so.
I wouldn’t spend a fortune if you are new to this. Start cheap and experiment. You will learn more about what suits you as you go. If you do end up chatting with one of the retailers listed above, say hi from me.
ps. This list is a starting point for discussion. if you have any other suggestions or want some particular advice, you mention it in the forum here.