Beer, coffee and running gear, all under the same roof. Fun concept, right?
BackRoads Brews and Shoes, a new independent shop in southern Ontario, is set for its grand opening on Dec. 9. The founders are Aaron and Emily Hendrikx, two accomplished distance runners in their mid 20s.
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The open-concept store, located at 1295 Riverbend Rd. in London, features a retail space as well as a taproom, where BackRoads will be serving eight craft beers, cider, kombucha and wine. The store features a coffee bar, too, including products made from a unique BackRoads blend (with the help of a local roaster). So, if you choose, and because the entire space is licensed, you can visit the taproom and wander over to the retail space, or vice versa. (Or, you don’t even need to be a runner.)
“We wanted to set ourselves apart [from other retailers] and offer something different,” Emily, a graduate of the University of Waterloo, says ahead of the opening. Other stores in the London area include Running Room, Runners’ Choice and New Balance London.
The store, which has been years in the making, will carry well-known brands as well as products, beyond just running shoes despite the store’s name, from brands not widely sold in Canada including Oiselle and On. BackRoads also has an online shop though Emily adds that there’s value of the in-store experience including a gait analysis and outdoor shoe testing.
The store itself is still partially under construction and Emily says that the current location is the fifth space they looked at, among the various other obstacles faced in opening an independent retail store. “No one has done this before and we have no one as an example really,” Emily says.
BackRoads, a name which comes from the thousands of kilometres the two have run on the southern Ontario back roads, also has a beer club, which requires attending six Thursday runs, and a team, which requires attending six Tuesday workouts. “Everyone has their own ‘back road’ that led them to where they are now; just as gritty, lonely at times, and tough, but worthwhile,” Aaron, a two-time Canadian university cross-country individual champion with Guelph who has run 13:51 for 5,000m, told Canadian Running of the name in March.
Away from the store, the two, who married in June, grow hops in their backyard with plans to expand the harvest to 10 acres with the goal of providing hops to beers BackRoads sells one day. “It gives us something to work on outside of the store,” Emily says adding the the only two employees (right now) are the co-owners.
Grand opening festivities are expected to include a long run (12K) in the morning, post-run coffee in the taproom followed by a 5K run in the evening with optional post-run beer, prizes and food.