October 29, 2018
The official announcement was made by the district manager before run club on Wednesday, October 24: The Square One Running Room‘s last day of business would be November 24, 2018.
This is a sad milestone for me. This has literally been my “home away from home” for a long time.
MEMORIES ALONG THE RUN
My first day really running outside with a clinic was June 8, 2010. It was my first day of my half-marathon clinic. I met many friends that day who I’m still close with today. We ran 4km outside and I thought I was going to die!
I had to look back into my calendar to see the exact date when I started coming to the Square One Running Room. I noticed that my time there started right after I finished my Master’s Degree. I essentially said goodbye to the student campus life, social circles, and all those extra-curriculars and moved into this Runner’s community.
I’ve had a LONG journey with this Running Room since then. I led 9 clinics, went through 5 managers, and trained for all 11 full- and 30 half-marathons at this location.
This Running Room has had its ups and downs. I’ve seen new waves of people come in and then leave. Sometimes big groups leave and form their own “independent” run clubs. Things change, this too shall pass, and all the other cliches about change all ring true.
Miscellaneous memories at the Square One Running Room
At least the Square One Running Room lasted this long. Some other running gear retailers like Runner’s Den closed their doors years ago. The Running Room’s at Port Credit, Brampton, Bramalea City Centre, and 4 other nearby locations have also closed in the last year. The Running Room stores at Argentina in Meadowvale is still open, as are the Oakville stores and 403/Dundas outlet.
I’m not awfully surprised that it closed. Brick and Mortar retail, especially high-margin specialized retail has been struggling to compete with the online sales trends. Consumers have been flocking to the lower prices and convenience of delivery to your door from Amazon or other online retailers. Even Running Room sells product through Amazon now.
And distance running may be on a bit of a downturn too. The Oprah Winfrey running boom wave may be winding down. People who wanted to do marathons as a bucket-list item may have checked that off and aren’t coming back. Some people aren’t finding their way into running because other exercise programs are trending up. There are many Orange Theory and F45 workout studios opening up, and that kind of indoor, guided, high-intensity workout seems to be en vogue at the moment.
And some people have moved on from Running Room to bigger and better things. Really serious runner’s migrate to more “elite” clubs like Runner’s Goals and Du Tri and Run. Others have moved onto triathlons and IronMAN events. Running Room was a place along their journey.
Back view of the Square One Running Room from Google Maps
As some of you know, I enter a new phase of my life myself in mid-November; my wife and I are expecting our first child. Maybe this is prophetic too about entering a new phase. Our daughter may be born just in time to see the store close.
I certainly don’t think I’ll stop running because my local Running Room has closed. In fact, most runs I have done in the last year didn’t start or stop at the Running Room. It will just be very different, a little harder to get a group together without this geographical way-point.
This certainly won’t be the end for this local Running community. Ironically, the Internet may have shuttered the doors of the store, but the community may continue to stay in touch with the Internet and social media. There’s a Run Club called Back To Square One which trains for many events including relays like Ragnar. There s a Facebook group called Run With Your Heart that hopes to continue being a hub for the former Square One Running Room Community. And I’m sure other communities and social media groups will coalesce soon too. There’s a Panera’s Bread right next door that can continue to serve as the way-point.
But the influx if new people may be capped a bit. New runner’s aren’t randomly drawn to a coffee shop to meet other runners. It will take more word-of-mouth and personal contact to bring in any new blood.
If someone can profit from the closure of the Running Room, they will. If a coffee shop welcomed runners just a little, they’d get some regular customers through the door. If a chiropractor or physiotherapist office kept their lobby and bathroom open for a run club to meet, they’d have the ability to grab a lot of new customers. There’s a capitalist solution out there somewhere.
GOODBYE RUNNING ROOM
There is a special get-together planned for Wednesday, November 21, 2018 at 6:30pm at the Square One Running Room, 55 Square One Drive, Mississauga. Apparently pizza and other snacks may be available. Come out and let’s send the Running Room off with style!