Small Enterprise: The ‘sole’ of outside recreation: Downtown Danville retailer focuses on sneakers for outdoor adventures and extra | Enterprise Native


SUSAN ELZEY Especially for Register & Bee

Ten years ago, Adam Jones was stuck in traffic on Interstate 40 after driving to Raleigh, North Carolina to buy running shoes.

It occurred to him that he might not be the only person in Danville who needed somewhere closer to shop for outdoor recreation shoes.

And the idea for The Brick Running & Tri Store in downtown Danville was born.

“There was a lot of talk at the time about revitalizing downtown Danville and the River District, building the new YMCA and expanding the Riverwalk Trail, so I wanted to be in the heart of Danville,” Jones said. the owner of The Brick.

He said the store’s name originated on a napkin while sitting in a Red Lobster and refers to training back-to-back in two disciplines during a workout known as a “brick.”

“At The Brick, our saying is, ‘The Brick is where you never run into a wall,'” he explained.

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The store specializes in selling footwear, apparel, gear and nutrition for hikers, runners, triathletes, swimmers and, more recently, cyclists.

“Our main line is shoes,” said Michael Nichols, a sales specialist at the store. “From walking to standing in a shift at work, we fundamentally adapt shoes to a person’s needs. For Goodyear workers we have composite thongs and for waiters we have non-slip shoes.”

Nichols said the store was “blessed” to weather the pandemic.

“We’ve had complications along the way from everything from restrictions like limited capacity to supply chain issues, but we got on okay,” he said.

The shop has five employees alongside Jones, all of whom have had some form of running involvement before.

Group outdoor activities

As part of its commitment to outdoor recreation, The Brick is the evening gathering place for weekly group walkers, runners and cyclists.

“The Wednesday night 6 p.m. group walk has 10 or more people of all ages and at all possible speeds,” said Emily Wallace, a sales specialist. “You just show up and walk about 3 miles. They are as friendly as can be.”

Another group that is running meets at the store on Thursday at 6:00 p.m.

“It’s the same but running,” Wallace said. “There are all sorts of steps from a 12-minute mile to a seven-minute mile.”

A noticeboard at the back of the store lists all the races taking place in the area.

“Anyone who comes in can see the local races,” Nichols said. “We want to promote health and well-being.”

However, he explained that a person does not have to be a runner to be helped by them.

“We’ve helped people in wheelchairs and with canes get the shoes they need,” he said.

Wallace said the store stocks around 120 different styles and brands of shoes and insoles. They also have an Aetrex machine that customers step on to analyze what type of insole they need for each type of shoe.

“Those custom insoles were pretty popular,” Wallace said.

Other products are swimming accessories.

“We have a wetsuit program if people want to swim in open water,” Nichols said. “We have a rental program that saves hundreds on buying this gear.”

Get on bikes

Since December, The Brick has been offering bikes and all accessories, as well as bike repairs.

“A local bike shop closed and we got a lot of calls about bikes, so we switched to bikes,” Nichols said. “Not everyone can or wants to walk.”

He said the store now sells mountain bikes, road bikes and a hybrid type of bike.

“We have a lot of customers who bike the trails at Dan Daniel, and the Riverwalk is bike-friendly, too,” he said of Danville’s popular part-and-trail system. “We have bikes and accessories from repair kits to inner tubes, tires and helmets.

“We also have a workshop with a certified repair mechanic. It’s been very popular lately, so if you’ve got a bike that’s been in the garage for two years, bring it in.”

He said they’re trying to keep the bikes cheap at around $800.

The store has also started a bike group that meets on Tuesdays at 6pm

“We’re still working on working out the kinks,” Wallace said.

‘Space Only’

Steve Scott, a runner, is one of the store’s satisfied customers.

“The Brick is the only place to buy shoes because of the service,” he said on a day of browsing the store. “I must have bought 100 pairs of shoes and pants and hats here.”

However, he likes the store for reasons other than the products.

“Adam is very supportive of runners,” he said. “I started running with disabled kids and turned to Adam. He was supportive and cool.”

But, he adds, he always looks at the shoes when he’s in the shop.

Wallace said the misconception was that you have to be a runner to wear good shoes, but she simply put her mother, who is a nurse, in a good pair of shoes.

“People come here from all over Danville. One client is a judge who can walk and there’s an elderly gentleman who has Parkinson’s and we get a lot of people with a doctor’s referral,” she said. “Anyone and anyone can come in.”

Elzey is a freelance writer for Danville Register & Bee. She can be reached at [email protected]