For those of you who don't have time to read my whole review, I'll give you the bottom line: If you want Vibram Five Fingers, defintely DO NOT GO to The Balanced Athlete. They have a small selection, even less knowledge about the product and are a huge pain to work with. I HAVE NEVER been treated so rudely or been to a running shoe store where the employees AND owner have so little information about their products.
I visited REI and the guy supplied with information about the differences in each shoe, the benefits, and what would best suit my needs. At The Balanced Athlete, one employee (who helped us after a two and a half week hassle I will recount) told me it was dangerous to run in the shoes and only start out running 5% of my totally weekly mileage. While the shoe company itself tells wearers to be careful and ease into the shoes, that is a ridiculous statement to me. He also told me the shoes were not machine washable, which is definitely not true. They seem to not like the product and are condescending and mannerless when helping customers with this product.
If I could give this store 0 stars I would! You could not pay me to go back. I really wanted to get a pair of the Vibram Five Fingers shoes, so for my birthday my fiance tried to buy me a pair. He wanted to support a local business and we had heard good things about The Balanced Athlete (although after having been there I can't understand how) so he went in to get the shoes.
At first, no one helped him at all. The girl at the counter looked up, said nothing and kept unpacking her boxes. Everyone in that store that we have worked with was nothing but rude with chips on their shoulders.
Then Eric came out and told my fiance that there was absolutely no correlation between US sizing and the sizing for Five Fingers and they couldn't give him any idea. Anyone with internet could look up the conversion chart between European sizing and US sizing. I wear a 5.5 or 6, and low and behold, I wear a 36 in Five Fingers...the conversion is that simple.
Instead he rudely told my fiance that he needed my foot and that they had my size though, so he should get me a gift card. My fiance felt a little accosted and agreed to buy a gift card. He immediately gave it to me when he got home and we went to get my shoes.
The smallest size they had was a 38, which is two sizes too big. The girl helping us told me to ""just shove my foot in it and see how it fit""...are you serious? Who talks to a customer that way? This is after they measured me at a 36. She left and came back with the store owner and they said ""how does it fit?"" Of course, I said ""it's too big"".
Long story short, Eric told us they might get my size in their next order, but they couldn't be sure and they didn't know when it would arrive but I could just get something else from the store. That was the only thing I wanted and the reason we came. They refused to give us a refund even though he bought the card 30 minutes earlier.
Two and a half weeks later they did get the shoe in, but I wish I could have just bought it at REI. I found one I liked way better. The service was equally bad when I went into to get the shoes and try on the right size, but since I had the gift card, I had to use it. **also, the shoe is $10 more there than at REI.
All in all, the worst retail experience I have ever had in all of my shopping. I can't believe Eric and The Balanced Athlete is still in business with the attitude everyone in the store has and indifference they exemplify towards customer service.