Hitting his stride
For former UD cross country runner Eric Contreras ’07, running is a way of life. But what began as simply a passion for running led him to running a business and ultimately back to the UD community he loves so much.
This fall, Contreras helped open the new Runners Plus store on Brown Street. As the store’s director, he knew he wanted to partner with UD as soon as they opened the doors.
Contreras sought out a partnership with the UD Running Club and set up a digital merchandise store to provide customizable apparel for the club — making it the first time the club has had an online merchandise store.
“We saw a group of people that are passionate about running,” Contreras said. “They get other people excited about running, for us that just makes so much sense to organize with.”
Contreras described opening on Brown Street as a full-circle moment.
“I spent four years of my life [at UD],” he said. “After college I lived nearby for a little bit. Being able to come back to campus to re-engage has been really neat.”
“Being able to come back to campus to re-engage has been really neat.”
Back when he was deciding where to go to college, Contreras said one of the key factors was having the opportunity to run. Contreras captained UD’s varsity cross country team and was a two-time recipient for the Atlantic 10 Conference Student Athlete of the Year award in 2005 and 2006.
Contreras described Runners Plus’ mission as providing the best running products, services and advice to the community.
“That’s the cornerstone of everything we do as a business,” he said. “Our goal is to drive revenue, and the way we want to do it is through customer service and building trust with our customers.”
Contreras said the store is eager to serve Flyer runners, community members living near downtown and avid runners of Dayton Track Club, a local running group. Outside of UD’s campus, Contreras searches for other businesses in the area to help tackle other initiatives his company is passionate about. In November, he worked with the Dayton Food Bank and in December he helped with donations to Hannah’s Treasure Chest, a local nonprofit providing essentials to young families.
“There’s events that we put on and that engagement resonates with the community,” he said. “Those partnerships are ways we can make sure that we’re working with our community outside of just the running community.”
The Brown Street store is one of three stores in the Dayton area and carries everything from name-brand running shoes to Lululemon apparel.
Runner’s Plus is located at 1200 Brown St., Suite 120, or visit their website.