Blue Ox Running Opens up With Sharp Community Mindset, Superior Gear
It doesn’t take a very long walk or jog along the lovely Chippewa River State Trail to conclude there’s a lot of traffic – the good kind of traffic. Runners, walkers, bikers, and the like explore the cityscape in large numbers. In fact, it’s safe to conclude the Chippewa Valley has experienced more than just an economic boom in the last several years, but a fitness and health boom, too.
“There’s nothing you can market that can replace good community.” – Adam Condit, co-owner of Blue Ox Running
Looking to promote this healthy lifestyle are Adam and Alicia Condit, family business owners of the freshly minted Blue Ox Running (417 S. Barstow St. in downtown Eau Claire). The Condits are ready to outfit local fitness enthusiasts with a variety of specialty running products. And while the store just opened, it has already won accolades in the Jump-Start Downtown Business Competition (see Page 13 for details).
As lifetime runners, Adam and Alicia bring a wealth of knowledge and experience. The couple, now business partners, met at UW-Eau Claire, where they ran cross country and track and field as Blugolds. Beyond college, their passion for the sport grew as did the distances they raced. Most valuable, they concluded, was a local running store’s role in the community. The Condits lived in Washington, D.C., for a time after college, where Alicia worked for a local running specialty store and Adam ran for their team. Meeting people and making friends in the running community, they said, really helped their continued training and passion for the sport. Alicia, especially, learned the ins and outs of running product lines and small business operations.
“We know what it’s like to be part of team – you’re way more accountable with a bunch of people,” Alicia said. “I think these local running stores are popping up because it keeps people accountable, and to get out and do it is the hardest part.”
With Blue Ox Running, the Condits hope to bring together a similar community in the Chippewa Valley and help them reach their running goals.
“I think the majority of customers are going to be knowledgeable but maybe somewhat new to running as a lifestyle. So what we’ve seen in running specialty is a ton of different ages and a ton of different abilities,” Adam said. “That’s why we were sort of drawn to starting our own store – to have a place where everyone can come.”
“Anyone can benefit from being in a good shoe – not just runners,” Alicia added. “Teachers, nurses, and different professions are on their feet all day. You don’t need to be a runner to come in here. Anyone can benefit from a good pair of running shoes.”
Blue Ox Running will carry reliable footwear brands such as Asics, Brooks, Saucony, Altra, Hoka One One, New Balance, and Mizuno. Beyond shoes, their store will include a selection of winter and night running gear, nutrition and therapeutic products, watches from Garmin, and trail running and hydration gear from brands Nathan and Ultimate Direction. They also have a selection of stylish company apparel, printed by Ambient Inks, with the Blue Ox logo. Their name, of course, is a nod to Babe the Blue Ox and Northern Wisconsin’s claim to Paul Bunyan’s folklore.
The store opened Oct. 7 to much excitement. Customers admired the store’s decor, a blend of modern and older Northwoods aesthetic, and chatted with other local runners they wouldn’t ordinarily meet. It seemed to draw the community together just as the Condits had hoped, yet Blue Ox has several long -term goals still in its sights. A local running club and community race are just a couple of possibilities.
Adam also commented on the power of social media, which has made runners faster, smarter, and more connected compared to previous generations; running groups and teams used to exist in isolation.
“There’s nothing you can market that can replace good community,” he said. “So when I see how easy it is to share with their friends and pull other people into it – that’s the main difference.”
Blue Ox Running now holds regular business hours Monday-Saturday. In October, they’ll have free clinics on Thursdays from 7-8pm. On Saturdays at 7:30am, they’re hosting open runs with the Indianhead Track Club at Owen Park.