Spotlight on Wild Runners World, Find More Than Just Shoes at This Brand New Running Store Where Giving Back to the Community Matters Most at 10149 Fair Oaks Blvd. in Fair Oaks Villagein Profile Articles
We're pleased to introduce Gian Antonio of Wild Runners World in our Business Spotlight Series.
We're spotlighting various merchants in the Fair Oaks Village, as well as individuals who support what FOVEC does, all while giving you a little insight into our history and what we do for the Village. We encourage you to share these local stories and visit with merchants to get to know them firsthand.
We connected with Gian Antonio to learn more about him and his business, Wild Runners World.
How would you describe your business to a friend?
More than a running store, my business is a place where all the runners can find more than a shoe.
They can find a friend if they want to come and just chat about running or they just want to learn more about running. We are here for them.
We are a little bit different from all the traditional running stores because we are bringing brands from Europe, Kenya, South America. You aren’t going to find those brands in all the stores in the area.
Why did you start the business? What were you hoping to accomplish?
I used to run not as a professional, but I was an avid runner a long time ago. I was working at a running store in Miami. Over there, I met so many Olympians and runners from Kenya. They inspired me every day to be a better runner. They also cared about the community.
I remember they used to get shoes for kids who didn’t have shoes. That motivated me to start a running store and do the same thing. I want to help high school kids or just be there for the community and help them to achieve their goals.
What's something you wish people knew about your business? What is a common question you get? What is your most popular product?
I always ask people to keep an open mind. Sometimes they come looking for a specific brands but there is more than just the traditional Nike or Adidas. The stuff I bring in comes from Africa and Europe are better quality.
Right now, one of the most popular items that I have is the Enda brand of shoe from Kenya. I also have super funny shorts that have cookies or donuts imprinted on them.
Most of the brands I carry are tied to doing some sort of good to the community. I have socks that benefit animal/pet causes, products that benefit programs to stop violence against women ...
Right now, we are working in a program where we can get shoes to all the homeless or to all the people without money. What we want to do is, some runners have good shoes in good shape. They can bring those shoes in and get a discount on other items in exchange. We can then give those gently worn shoes to the homeless. We are also happy to give them maybe not a new model but shoes of our previous model season.
Also, I understand some families don’t have the money to get the shoes to the high school kids trying to be on the cross country team. So, we are trying to do a program like that. I was once in that position. I remember a guy here in Fair Oaks, when I was in high school, I was running in regular shoes. This guy took me to a local shop to get a right shoe. That’s when I started getting better running times. I’d like to do the same thing for people now.
What's the biggest compliment you've received?
People like the store because it’s different. They are happy to see something different in the Village. They are happy we are going to promote events like running every Tuesday in the evenings. They are happy when I tell them I’m planning to do yoga in the park or fun runs, Zumba, and many events.
On Oct. 1, because we are starting the month of Halloween festivities, we’re going to have a fun run where runners will show up in a costume or Halloween socks. We’re going to run 6 miles around the village. Then we’re going to have some food, and of course we’ll be cautious because of the virus. We’re going to try to keep distance, because the safety of the runners is important to us.
When the virus slows down a bit, we’ll start promoting more, because we don’t want to do big events. Right now, we need to take care of our families and stay safe.
Why did you choose to be in the Fair Oaks Village?
A long time ago I came here to Fair Oaks. My brother used to live here. I like the community. There are so many trails around here. People are super nice to me. I came originally from Salamanca, Spain, so I didn’t speak any English. The community was very supportive trying to help me learn the language and invited me to their parties, introducing me to new people. They’ve taken care of me as if I was already part of Fair Oaks.
Tell us more about other services you'll offer to runners in the community.
We’ll have clinics and elite runners in store when things open up a bit more. We're planning to invite former Olympians who are my friends. They’ll show you how to stretch or you can run with them. They'll talk to people about the Boston Marathon or the Olympics.
Running is all about having fun, so we want to appeal to that in the products we sell to people.