Running Wild store set to open downtown


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For Joe and Jean Dwyer, health and wellness are more than personal mantras, they are serious business.

The husband and wife duo started Running Wild, a local running and walking shoe specialty store that focuses on personalized sport-performance expertise 14 years ago.

“What sets us apart is that we don’t sell shoes, we fit shoes,” Jean Dwyer said.

After the opening of their first store in Coralville in August 2000, locations in West Burlington and Cedar Rapids followed. Come December, their fourth and largest Running Wild will open at 121 E. Washington St., in a space that was most recently occupied by a U.S. Post Office substation. A grand-opening ceremony is scheduled for the middle of February 2013.

“We picked the downtown area to be accessible to University of Iowa students who don’t have easy transportation to the Coralville store. We want to promote wellness and health, and hearing that the [University of Iowa] Campus Recreation & Wellness Center is expanding, we wanted to be apart of that,” she said. “You always want to have new customers, and you can’t stay stagnant.”

Jean and Joe Dwyer both also cited the recent news of three downtown high-rises, including Moen Group’s Park @ 201 14-story building currently under construction as an additional reason for the fourth location.

“We want to add to the face of the downtown changing,” she said.

UI students and local businesses see the opening of the Running Wild store downtown as a great addition to the burgeoning shopping options offered near campus.

UI freshman and Iowa City native Elizabeth Shirazi said she’s excited to see something new in the downtown area.

“I do think that any new business that opens downtown is good. It will be very interesting to see how it competes with Active Endeavors,” she said. “If they have competitive prices, I will definitely shop there.”

Dave Nerad, the store manager at Active Endeavors, 138 S. Clinton St., sees the opening of Running Wild as a positive move and doesn’t anticipate a drop-off in his store’s sales.

“We’re excited about another locally owned retailer coming downtown, especially one that encourages active activities. They do all the grass-roots stuff that we like to see,” he said. “Any new retailer we can get downtown, the better.”

In preparation for the planned late December opening, the Dwyers spend much of their time at the new storefront every day. After extensive renovations, the look and feel will be dramatically different from how it alppears today.

“We’re putting an exposed brick on one of the walls and exposing the original ceiling to keep with the downtown character,” Jean Dwyer said.

Throughout the reconstruction, the company is striving for minimal environmental impact.

“We’re trying to be very environmentally conscious, like recycling aluminum and steel left over from the post office,” she said.

Customers will see many new features that distinguish the downtown location from the other three, including a New Balance Mondo track surface and a Brooks Gait Analysis Lab. The lab will consist of two treadmills, video recorders, and TV monitors, designed to analyze and evaluate what a people’s strides are like and where their hips fall in relation to their feet so that they can see how to best improve their athletic form and help to be fit for the right pair of shoes.

“Eighty-five percent of the retail space will be the Mondo indoor track, which is the same as the indoor track used at the University of Iowa Rec Center,” downtown store manager John Dwyer said. “The final build-out cost is always changing, but a wide estimate is $100,000 to $200,000.”

To better serve the student population and downtown lifestyle, the new location will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., opening an hour earlier and closing an hour later than the other locations.

UI junior and triathlete Zach Alderman said he is familiar with the Running Wild store concept.

“In my hometown of La Grange, Ill., we have the Runner’s Soul,” he said. “Having the running technology and seeing the perspective and having that in addition to a good variety and great customer service is really appealing.”

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