In the world of super-sized retail chains and massive online markets, it can be difficult for new businesses to get on their feet. Like thousands of others, I’ve made the dash to the various new retail mega-complexes where consumers can ironically find computer terminals welcoming them to “The Family.” However, these places tend to rely on pre-recordings and hold times to do business and the “family” feel seems something of a ruse. Although these mega establishments have their place, they also demonstrate the need for businesses willing to make real connections with their customers. Two new businesses in Lee’s Summit are doing just that. Both seek to grow through personal connections. Both seek to promote health in our community.

The Running Well Store is a unique, locally owned and operated store hoping to form and fuel communities of runners in the Lee’s Summit area by creating regular running groups and resourcing them with top quality name brand equipment. It’s not unusual to hear conversations about a shared passion for running among store patrons and staff. While the mega chains can offer similar running apparel, they cannot offer the personal touch and guidance that The Running Well team can provide. Anyone that works standing up, participates in athletics, or pounds the pavement for personal enjoyment will confess that taking care of their feet is crucial to longevity. That’s where The Running Well Store strides ahead of the rest.

Their knowledgeable staff aims to get to know you and your personal running needs. You can have them perform a free running analysis by hopping on a treadmill as they record your strides to determine levels of pronation and ideal shoe type. You can try your shoes for 30 days and exchange them if they are not working out. This kind of customer care and personal fit is often unheard of in today’s economy. Join in on “Sunday Runday,” “Hump Day Run Day” (running and dining), or “Northland Yoga Run” and you might even acquire new friends and family along the way.

The Greener Life Market serves as another new store leaning away from the impersonal ways of big retail in favor of more community-oriented business practice. At The Greener Life, kids can take part in crafts while parents explore an environmentally conscious treasure hunt through a beautiful inventory of recycled and up-cycled goods. Residents of Lee’s Summit no longer have to journey down to the West Bottoms in search of wonderfully repurposed items because they can now be acquired here on downtown Douglas Street.

The Greener Life is a place to linger and explore a vast array of decorations, hand bags, organic cleaners, all-natural toiletries, watches, water bottles, furnishings, and jewelry…all meeting a high ethical standard for business practice, environmental health, and sustainability. The prices are reasonable and the environment is hip and fresh. It’s a sort of respite where the store’s owner, Gabriella, will literally sit down with your kids to play and craft while you enjoy searching through hand woven rugs from re-cycled materials and imaginative necklaces (one of the store’s most popular items) finely crafted and up-cycled from pennies.

The Greener Life Market provides fun ways to connect with its customers through a variety programs centered around earth-friendly education. On each first Saturday kids can sign up to participate in $3 classes that teach re-cycling and crafting. Parents can organize birthday parties for up to ten kids and those following the store’s Facebook page might discover opportunities for teens to learn sewing, decoupage and knitting. It’s a unique environment that promotes earth friendly living with a community atmosphere.

The Running Well Store and The Greener Life Market are two new Lee’s Summit businesses that steer away from the impersonal ways of big retail to offer real community and customer service that is sure to be valued among residents of the Lee’s Summit Community.