Rudy’s Runway builds community among students, alumni and professors
Rudy’s Runway’s new “Retro Rudy’s” line has been increasingly popular among the student body. Photo courtesy of President of E-Commerce for Flyer Enterprise Jared Rech.
Maddy Bartsche | Arts & Entertainment Editor
With the 2021-2022 basketball season set to begin Nov. 9, fans are looking to show their Flyer spirit in any way they can, including the apparel they wear to games. Rudy’s Runway, a venture of Flyer Enterprises — a student-run business comprising ten divisions and over 150 student-employees — offers unique gear to Flyer fans.
The idea for Rudy’s Runway came about in 2017 and the online store was officially launched in 2018.
“The idea was to have a group of students come together and create apparel that would be a little bit more affordable. We cater to both students and alumni and the greater Dayton community,” said Jared Rech, Flyer Enterprise president of e-commerce and senior at UD. “Since then, we’ve grown in our size of team and our apparel options and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Rudy’s Runway, consisting of a Classic Collection, FE Collection, Made to Order option and the Retro Rudy’s line, has been very popular among the student body at UD.
“I am a fan because they have sweatshirts that are cool and unique that don’t compare to the bookstore gear,” Nick Gratz, first-year student, said.
Overall, the Rudy’s Runway team consists of just four core employees, but members of the Flyer Enterprise graphic design team and executive board also help out with the online store.
“The whole goal is to connect our students, alumni and Flyer fans. One of the ways we’ve tried to connect more with alumni and professors has been [through] Retro Rudy’s,” Rech said.
Retro Rudy’s gives old Dayton gear a new life by allowing alumni and professors to donate their old gear to be sold on the Rudy’s Runway website. Donors also have the option to share their memories associated with the item.
“I think one of the coolest things about Dayton is how much of a strong connection alumni have with their time at UD. Everyone who went here loved it and everyone loves to talk about being a Flyer and their days on campus,” Rech said. “So, we were trying to think of ways we could connect with alumni because it is kind of easy to lose touch with them once they graduate. We thought maybe if they were willing to donate some of their lightly used items, we could give them a chance to have their apparel back on campus for a second life, but also to tell their story.”
For example, Rudy’s Runway received a donated sweater from an alumni who explained that he had season tickets during the first year the arena opened back in 1969.
“It’s kind of cool to give his sweatshirt another life on campus, so another student might be wearing it at the basketball game,” explained Rech.
One interesting aspect of Rudy’s Runway is that a lot of the gear is student-made. Sophomores in the Entrepreneurship Program receive a grant from Dayton to create their own products, such as custom t-shirts. Rudy’s Runway is then able to sell any of the leftover apparel. One such item is the ‘Big Porch Energy’ t-shirt available for sale on the Rudy’s Runway website. This item is just one example of how Rudy’s Runway looks to incorporate Dayton traditions, such as the shared love of porch gatherings, into their designs.
So what makes Rudy’s Runway apparel so special?
“One cool thing is that we do get to use some of the older logos,” said Rech, explaining that Flyer Enterprises has connections in the marketing department that make this possible.
Speaking on what he recommends fans wear to the upcoming basketball games, Rech suggests the “Okay Rudy Crewneck” featuring our favorite pilot, Rudy Flyer.
Another option may be to pick up some Retro Rudy’s items or simply bring out your old Dayton gear, added Rech.
“I also have a soft spot for the older logos,” Rech said. “Something about them… I think it’s just like an historic feeling and a lot of the alumni will be at the game wearing those logos.”
While Flyer Enterprises does a great job of building community throughout Dayton with projects such as Retro Rudy’s, they also work to build a sense of teamwork within their own organization.
“Everyone has different objectives and different goals within their divisions and within their positions, but we all have the common goal of furthering Flyer Enterprises and giving students—both in FE and not in FE—the best on campus experience,” Rech said. “It’s kind of cool seeing everybody’s individual goals and individual projects come together and create something a whole lot bigger than what we could have done on our own.”
Rech added that every single year Rudy’s Runway management adds something new. In the 2020-2021 school year Rudy’s Runway partnered with Logos at Work to make some more custom gear with their Made To Order option. Retro Rudy’s was launched in Aug. 2021 with the hopes of connecting past alumni with current and future students.
“In the future, I’m excited to see what the next management teams do. It’s always something completely different, but it’s usually a very cool idea,” Rech said. “I’m excited to see how [Rudy’s Runway] can change, even over the next year.”
If you’re looking to get involved in Flyer Enterprises be on the lookout for applications on Handshake to work for any of their business including Rudy’s Runway. Or if you’re just looking to shop for some Flyer fan attire, you can purchase their gear at https://rudysrunway.com. Also, make sure to follow their Instagram at @rudysrunway to hear about the newest product lines.
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