Photo of Runners Plus storefront view from Brown Street. Photo courtesy of Runners Plus.
Lucy Waskiewicz | Contributing Writer
Daytonian runners needn’t lace up to chase down gear anymore; a new Runner’s Plus location opened on Brown Street this fall.
Runners Plus is an independently owned athletic equipment business that specializes in gear for runners. The storefront is one of three total in the Dayton area, and carries everything from running shoes to cushioned socks to headphones.
Runners Plus Director Eric Contreras is a University of Dayton alumni. He said that Runners Plus’ mission is simple and community-centered.
“It’s to provide the best running products, service and advice in the Dayton area,” he said. “Our goal is to drive revenue, and the way we want to do it is through customer service and building trust with our customers.”
Part of this business model includes hosting events for runners and partnering with local businesses and charities. Contreras described this practice as an effort to engage with the community outside of just the running community — an integral part of being a locally-owned business.
“There’s events that we put on and that engagement resonates with the community,” he said. “A real benefit to local business and supporting local business is that it helps raise all ships in the area. We support locally with various initiatives.”
Runners Plus other two brick-and-mortar stores are located in north and east Dayton. Brown Street was chosen as a third location for both its proximity to many members of the Runners Plus community and to the University of Dayton.
Contreras graduated from UD in 2007, where he also ran on and captained the cross country team. In both 2005 and 2006 Contreras was awarded the Atlantic 10 Conference Student Athlete of the Year. He described the Brown Street location as a “real full-circle moment.”
“I spent four years of my life there,” he said. “After college I lived nearby for a little bit. Being able to come back to campus to re-engage has been really neat.”
One instance of campus engagement has been with the UD Running Club. Thanks to a new partnership between the two organizations, the club has its first-ever brick-and-mortar merch store housed in Runner’s Plus.
“Our partnership with Runners Plus is something that we never thought we’d get to have,” said Tori Miller, UD Running Club president. “Eric has been incredibly helpful throughout this process, and having our merchandise store has excited club members.”
With the advent of digitized shopping, Contreras recognized the difficulties that local businesses can have. He offered advice for those looking to support local businesses in their communities — the first step being to simply look for them.
“When you have the decision to shop, it starts with just going into a local store first,” he said. “They [local businesses] also might have an online store, and chances are they can get it delivered quicker than anyone else because they’re in the same town.”
He said that the proximity of local businesses to their suppliers allows them to receive online orders usually by the next day, likely with no extra costs. This allows for an experience comparative to larger businesses like Amazon.
Alongside Running Club merch, Runners Plus offers an extensive array of running-centered goods and services. Things like shoes, watches, and injury management equipment are paired with local running events and location suggestions for Dayton runners.
Contreras cited his own love for running as a motivation behind his work at Runners Plus for the last thirteen years, and offered advice to those looking to take up running in their own lives.
“Number one is to be consistent,” he said. “If you’re getting out once a week, and that’s all you want to do, then make it once a week. That allows you to reduce the chance of dropping out of the routine of being active.”
Another piece of advice was to run with other runners — an opportunity made accessible by Runners Plus’ online calendar of running events all over Dayton.
Runner’s Plus on Brown Street is in its third month of operation. Contreras spoke optimistically about the future of the store and its community engagement.
“In November, we worked with the food bank, and in December we’re going to work with Hannah’s Treasure Chest,” he said. “Those partnerships are ways we can make sure that we’re engaging with our community outside of just the running community.”
You can visit Runner’s Plus at 1200 Brown St., Suite 120, or on their website.