Specialty vs. Department Stores

Purchasing a treadmill is one of the best investments you can make towards a healthier lifestyle. When shopping for a treadmill, quality is an important aspect to consider. By purchasing one of the best treadmill brands you’ll have the peace of mind in knowing that your machine will be better built and will last longer than a lower-end brand. Generally, there are two primary locations you’ll be able to purchase a treadmill. These are department stores and a local speciality fitness store.

Department stores are large retail establishments that offer a wide variety of items which often include clothes, electronics, toys, furniture, and yes, fitness equipment. Examples of department stores include Sears, Costco, and Canadian Tire. Although these stores are great for a lot of everyday items, when it comes to big purchases such as treadmills, they aren’t up to par with specialty fitness stores.

Specialty fitness stores, as the name implies are stores that deal and specialize in high end fitness equipment. Unlike department stores, specialty shops are smaller stores which focus specifically on one niche – in this case, fitness equipment. Examples of speciality fitness stores in Toronto, Canada and other major Canadian cities include Dotmar Fitness Equipment, Fitness Depot, and the Treadmill Factory.


Buying a Treadmill at Department Stores

As with most things in life (especially those things involving money) there are both pros and cons to buying treadmills at department stores. These include:


  • Cheaper Selections: If you’re not concerned with the quality provided by the best treadmill brands and instead are looking for a budget, entry-level model, department stores may be your best bet.  Stores like Canadian Tire, Sears, and Costco often carry a selection of budget and mid-range treadmills.  This can be beneficial if you’re looking to save a few dollars and still get in shape.


  • Larger selection of Lower Quality Equipment: Unfortunately, cheaper treadmills are typical of lower quality.  This often means a less stable unit, a lesser quality motor, and an overall cheaper build.  If you’re looking for a treadmill to use solely for walking, this may not be a big deal but for running, you’ll want to look at the best treadmill brands provided by specialty shops.
  • Lack of Knowledgeable Staff: Department stores very rarely hire qualified and knowledgeable staff for every department.  As such, if you have specific questions about treadmill features and the best treadmill brands, be prepared to get generic answers.
  • Limited Extended Warranty options: Treadmills are prone to breaking down, particularly when used frequently.  This is especially true for cheaper brands supplied by department stores.  With a major purchase such as a treadmill, an extended warranty is a good idea.  Unfortunately, department stores don’t often provide one.
  • Outsourced Service: Another disadvantage of department stores is that when your treadmill does break down, you’ll likely have to ship it off to have it fixed or have a part replaced.  This can be a big hassle and can cut into your workout routine.


Buying a Treadmill at Specialty Stores

Now that you’re a little more familiar with the pros and cons of buying a treadmill at department stores, let’s look at the advantages of specialty stores.


  • High Quality Equipment: If you’re serious about getting active and staying fit, a high quality treadmill is a must.  One of the greatest benefits of specialty fitness equipment stores is that they carry a huge selection of the best treadmill brands.  Even if you’re looking for a cheaper model, you’ll be able to find one in a good brand name that will be better than those found at department stores.
  • Knowledgeable Staff: You wouldn’t buy a car from someone that isn’t knowledgeable, and similarly you shouldn’t buy a treadmill from an unknowledgeable person.  Staff at a specialty store will be able to provide you with information on models from the best treadmill brands as well as details on specific features you may want.
  • Professional Service and Repairs: Even treadmills from the best treadmill brands occasionally break down.  Fortunately if you’ve purchased your treadmill from a specialty store they’ll often have trained staff that will be able to repair your treadmill onsite.  This can save you a great deal of time and you’ll be assured that the repairs are being done properly.


  • Check to store hours of your local specialty store as they most probably not open Mall hours.
  • Since specialty usually does not cary as many lower end options the price point might be a little higher than a department store.


If you’re serious about achieving your fitness goals and staying in shape, visiting a specialty store specializing in treadmills and other high end fitness equipment is a must.  Their knowledgeable staff will be able to help you find a machine that’s right for you.  Not only that, but they’ll be able to provide you with numerous models from a larger selection of treadmill brands.  This will ensure your investment will last.


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