Closure of Runner’s Den will leave void: owner
The pending closure of The Runner’s Den will likely leave a void in the local sporting goods market, says the Red Deer shop’s longtime owner.
Dwayne Loyek is currently liquidating stock in the store that he’s operated for the past decade. He expects this process to wrap up by early October.
Although running gear and clothing are available elsewhere in Red Deer, Loyek pointed out that he carried specialized triathlon equipment and other products that might be tough to find. Earlier this month, for example, The Runner’s Den rented out nearly 10 wetsuits to athletes competing in a triathlon at Banff.
“There’s going to be nowhere for people to rent wetsuits in Red Deer,” he said, noting that customers came to him from as far away as Edmonton and Calgary.
“Absolutely there’s going to be a void there,” he said, listing other triathlon gear, drysuits and bike accessories as additional item that will be difficult to source locally in the future.
The Runner’s Den was able to offer knowledgeable advice to customers, said Loyek, and was a regular sponsor of running events. It also served as a meeting place for members of Red Deer’s running community.
“We had drop-in runs Wednesday night for the whole time,” he said, adding that many runners would simply stop in at the store to hang out with like-minded people.
Perhaps the biggest impact of The Runner’s Den’s closure will be the possible end of the 10-km, half-marathon and marathon clinics that it organized every year.
“I’ll miss doing that, but there are a lot of people who are going to miss participating in it,” said Loyek, expressing hope that someone else might take over this responsibility.
Loyek said an increasingly competitive market was a key factor in his decision to close. Not only are more people now turning to the Internet when buying products like running shoes, he found it tough to go head-to-head with the likes of the Running Room, which has operated in Red Deer for nearly two years.
Specifically, he said, the Running Room can quickly bring in shoes and other products from its sister stores. For The Runner’s Den, the turnaround was much longer.
“It’s two weeks for most suppliers to get it through the doors. It kind of puts the pressure on you to carry a lot of stock, which isn’t the perfect thing in retail to have.”
Another consideration in Loyek’s decision to close was the fact that one of his key staff members had announced he was moving on.
The Runner’s Den was started in 1997 by B.J. Billings, a retired Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School teacher who had coached the school’s cross-country team. Loyek bought the business in 2003.