Runners make up the core of Canada’s running community but running stores play a key role in bringing folks together. Although running stores are businesses, many, especially the independent ones are started and run by runners who have a passion for the sport.
One Canadian running store that has really landed on its feet in Toronto and recently celebrated its first anniversary in November is BlackToe Running.
Mike and Maya
Mike and Maya Anderson opened the doors of BlackToe Running together in November 2013. It’s a running store opened by runners.
Mike and Maya, often referred to as “M and M” by those who know them, had the original vision for the downtown Toronto running shop. Mike, a banker until 2013, is also an avid runner who has completed numerous races, including 10 marathons. He is well connected within the city’s running community and is a familiar face you will encounter nearly any day you stop by the store or one of their group runs.
Maya has been a runner since her school days. She has 25 years combined experience in the fields of engineering, procurement and logistics. Maya is more behind the scenes at the store but says she makes a public appearance on evenings and weekends.
Located at King and Bathurst, close to some local running routes, Mike and Maya have tried to ensure the store has everything their customers need and hire staff who know their stuff.
The store offers free drop-in runs and host 5K and 10K training program. Runners of all speeds are sprouting up around Toronto in the store’s slick singlets.
Why did you decide to open a new running store in Toronto?
“We opened BlackToe Running in Toronto as we are passionate about the sport and the running community. We think Toronto has a very vibrant running scene and believed there was room for a different kind of running specialty store.”
What is unique about your shop?
“We didn’t want the traditional shoe wall, as we are trying to ensure we can have a proper dialogue with runners about their running and get them into the right shoes. Our table and our staff promote dialogue so we can get to know our customers and their needs. When you come into the shop and look at the shoe table, you will see, in the concrete tabletop, the footprints of many of the people who are active in the Toronto running scene. Our store design is also very special as it is inspired by our favorite running routes; from the chain-link fencing of the rail path to the wooden bleachers for shoe try-on, that remind us of the neighbourhood high school track.”
What are your future running goals and goals for the store?
“Maya is recovering from a bad ankle injury so she is focused on proper recovery and probably another half-marathon in the spring. Mike is going to run a couple of races of various distances from 10K to Marathon this spring. Longer term goals for both Maya and I on the running front are to develop a solid running hub in the Toronto community, where all runners feel welcome regardless of the club they run with or their level of experience.
“The store will continue to evolve as we refine our product mix and processes. We are constantly searching for new products and information that we can share with our customers.”
Run on, Mike and Maya, and all who come out to run with you! Keep toeing the line.
See you on the roads or in the blogosphere.
Do you have a running story to tell?
Find BlackToe Running in Toronto or interact with them on Twitter at @BlackToeRunning