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The ‘sole’ of outdoor recreation: Downtown Danville store specializes in shoes for outside adventures and more | Local Business News


Ten years ago, Adam Jones was stuck in traffic on I-40 after going to Raleigh, North Carolina, to buy running shoes.

The thought occurred to him then that he couldn’t be the only person in Danville who needed a closer place to buy footwear for outdoor recreation.

And the idea for The Brick Running & Tri Store in downtown Danville was born.

“At that time there was a lot of talk about the revitalization of downtown Danville and the River District, the building of the new YMCA and the expansion of the Riverwalk Trail, so I wanted to be in the heart of Danville,” said Jones, the owner of The Brick.

He said the name of the store was created on a napkin when he was sitting in a Red Lobster and refers to training back-to-back on two disciplines during a workout, which is called a “brick.”

“At The Brick, our saying is ‘The Brick is where you never hit the wall,’” he explained.

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The store specializes in the sale of shoes, apparel, equipment and nutrition to walkers, runners, triathletes, swimmers and, more recently, bicyclists.

“Our main lineup is shoes,” said Michael Nichols, a sales specialist at the store. “From walking to standing at a shift at work, we basically tailor shoes to a person’s needs. For the worker at Goodyear we have composite toe shoes, and for waiters, we have slip-resistant shoes.”

Nichols said the store was “blessed” to make it through the pandemic.

“We had complications along the way on everything from restrictions, such as limited capacity, to supply chain issues, but we have come out OK,” he said.

The store has five employees besides Jones and all of them have previously been involved in some type of running.

Group outdoor activities

As part of its commitment to outdoors recreation, The Brick is the meeting place for weekly group walkers, runners and bicyclists in the evening.

“The group walk on Wednesday evenings at 6 has 10 or more people of all ages and with all sorts of paces,” said Emily Wallace, a sales specialist. “They just show up and walk about 3 miles. They are as friendly as can be.”

Another group who runs meets at the store on Thursday at 6 p.m.

“It’s the same thing but running,” Wallace said. “There are all sorts of paces from a 12-minute mile to a seven-minute mile.” 

A chalkboard at the back of the store lists all the races going on in the area.

“Anyone who comes in can see the local races,” said Nichols. “We like to promote health and wellness.”

He explained, however, that a person doesn’t have to be a runner to be helped by them.

“We’ve helped people in wheelchairs and on canes to get the shoes they need,” he said.

Wallace said the store offers around 120 different types and brands of shoes and inserts. They also have an Aetrex machine that customers step on for an analysis of what kind of insert they need for any kind of shoe.

“Those customized insoles have been pretty popular,” Wallace said.

Other products include swimming accessories.

“We have a wet suit program when people want to swim in the open water,” Nichols said. “We have a rental program that will save hundreds on buying that equipment.”

Getting into bikes

Since December, The Brick has begun offering bikes and all the accessories, as well as bike repair.

“A local bike shop shut down, and we started getting a lot of calls about bikes, so we stepped up to bikes,” Nichols said. “Not everyone can or wants to run.”

He said the store is now selling mountain bikes, road bikes and a hybrid type of bike.

“We get a lot of customers in who bike the trails at Dan Daniel, and the Riverwalk is also friendly to bikes,” he said of Danville’s popular part and trail system. “We have bikes and accessories from repair kits to tubes, tires and helmets.

“We also have a repair shop with a certified repair mechanic. That’s been popular lately, so if you have a bike that’s been in the garage for two years, bring it in.”

He said they try to keep the bikes economically priced around $800.

The store has also started a bicycle group to meet on Tuesdays at 6 p.m.

“We’re still working out the kinks on that,” said Wallace.

‘Only place’

Steve Scott, a runner, is one of the store’s satisfied customers.

“The Brick is the only place to come for shoes because of the service,” he said on a day he was in the store browsing. “I’ve probably bought 100 pairs of shoes here and pants and hats.”

He likes the store for reasons other than their products, however.

“Adam is very supportive of runners,” he said. “I started running with disabled kids, and I reached out to Adam. He was supportive and cool about it.”

But, he adds, he always looks at the shoes when he’s in the store.

Wallace said the misconception is that you have to be a runner to wear good shoes, but she just put her mother, who is a nurse, into a good pair of shoes.

“People from all over Danville come in here. One customer is a judge who is a walker, and there’s an older gentleman who has Parkinson’s, and we get a lot of people with a doctor’s recommendation,” she said. “Anyone and everybody can come in.”

Elzey is a freelance writer for the Danville Register & Bee. She can be reached at

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