By: Karen Karnis
After months of searching, Mike Anderson and his wife, Maya, found the perfect location to make their dream a reality. At 95 Bathurst Street, Toronto, it’s close to the Martin Goodman trail, other great running trails, and interesting neighbourhoods. It’s not a huge space, but it’s tall, it’s bright – and they almost didn’t get it.
“After we found the space, a large chain came in and tried to get the space,” says Anderson. “But the landlord loved our community-focus and chose us over the chain.” It might not seem like a sound decision to choose a small business over a sure-thing, but when you hear more about Black Toe Running Inc., it doesn’t seem like such a stretch.
After conducting focus groups and interviewing numerous runners, Anderson found that his vision was bang-on: there was definitely interest in a running store with more edge. “We are creating a high-quality environment for the running club scene in downtown Toronto and the waterfront area,” says Anderson.
The design of the store is very deliberately planned to reflect the area’s favourite running spots – the slate floors smack of asphalt roads, with a “boardwalk” built right in. While Anderson wouldn’t spill all of his secrets before the anticipated opening in November, he says that he’s really excited to provide the environment that people deserve to create an enjoyable shopping experience.
Anderson also knows that an enjoyable shopping experience doesn’t end with the look of the place. So he and Maya looked at best practices across multiple industries to create their vision of the experience their customers deserve. They are very excited to have high-level in-store expertise, and will be carrying quality brands. “Mizuno offers the type of quality our customers are looking for,” says Anderson. “Mizuno-wearers are very loyal; you can’t be in running specialty without the key brands.”
But the thing they want most is to offer a high-quality environment for the running club scene in downtown Toronto and the waterfront area. “We really want to be unique,” says Anderson. “Black Toe Running will be different and have more edge – just like the culture around here.”
Q & A with Mike Anderson
How long have you been a runner?
Seriously? I only started running marathons and half marathons about 8 years ago.
Well I ran to train for hockey and for the annual Terry Fox Runs, but that was about it. I grew up in rural Saskatchewan where it wasn’t a big thing at the time. I’d be running down the side of the road and everyone would wave – they’d know exactly who it was because I was the only person doing it
How about Maya?
Maya has been running longer than I have – I prefer track workouts and she prefers to run long, but we still run together sometimes!
I’ve organized charity teams for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon for the Geneva Centre for Autism. My son, Braden, has autism and we run together three times a week now. He has struggles with gross and fine motor skills but is all the way up to 10K – it’s something that we can do together now.
What are Black Toe Moments?
Black Toe Running isn’t about Maya and me – it’s about our customers. Black Toe Moments are the stories they share
Okay, so it’s not about you. But what’s a Black Toe Moment from your life?
I was doing a 20K run on a frigid winter day – past Christie Pits, across Eglinton and down Mount Pleasant. When I was around Yonge and Eglinton, I ducked into a doorway to adjust my hat. An older woman told me, “You’re a good Canadian boy to run in this!” That moment gives me motivation when it’s cold now – I just think of being a “good Canadian boy.” That’s the sort of moment all runners have.