New Oak Park women’s running shop separates from the pack

Caitlin Mullen
For Sun-Times Media | @Caitlin_Mullen
Aug. 5 10:30 a.m.

Lively Running

109 N. Oak Park Ave.

708-358-0605

Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

A grand opening is planned for Aug. 9, with a balloon artist, face painter, boot camps and a fun run with doughnuts.

Struck by how many running stores seemed male-focused, sisters Anne and Kate Pezalla set out to open an activewear shop for women like themselves.

Lively Running, which opened July 19 in the Hemingway District of Oak Park, offers specialty women’s athletic clothing, shoes and running accessories.

“We’re kind of going for that boutique feel,” Anne said. “We’re not like Sports Authority. We want you to come here and find something really unique.”

It took almost two years to develop the idea for the boutique and get certain brands on board, Anne said.

“Neither of us has owned a business before, so this was a big step for us,” she said.

The sisters, who grew up in Oak Park, both came into running later in life and fell in love. Kate has run the Boston Marathon and is training for an ultra marathon of 50-plus miles; Anne said she likes to run short and fast.

“We just want to be welcoming to all levels of athlete,” said Anne, who lives in Oak Park with her husband and two children. “Oak Park has just been so nice since we opened up.”

Barbara “Queen B” Dolan, founder of Oak Park-based roller skating workout classes Derby Lite, met Anne through one of her classes and said she was one of the members that everyone liked.

“I just remember thinking that anything she wanted to do, she would totally succeed at,” Dolan said.

Dolan said she’s excited about a fitness store just for women, and said she hopes the sisters keep doing what they’re doing.

“It seems like they have come out of the gate at a full sprint,” Dolan said.

Both Anne and Kate are trained to do gait analysis. Staff can film a customer using the store’s treadmill to observe the way she runs and find the best shoes tailored for her gait. They’re also able to do bra fittings.

Though it’s called Lively Running, the store sells clothes for yoga, CrossFit and other activities as well. Anne said they plan to offer tennis wear soon, since there have been several requests for it.

The sisters believe the store’s selection meets the growing demand for clothes that are becoming as stylish as they are functional. As fashion has influenced athletic wear, running clothes have become more fashion-forward and performance-focused, Kate said.

“It’s a unique intersection right now,” she said. More people than ever before — women, especially — wear their athletic wear beyond their workout, so the clothes are pulling double-duty.

“I expect these pieces to be part of my everyday life, not just throw on to go to the gym,” Kate said.

Anne said a top typically costs $60, while a pair of pants is around $100.

The Pezallas plan to use part of the 3,000-square-foot space for clinics and classes, like self defense. A running group Anne started through Mom Mail, called Best Foot Forward, now has 300 members, and a Thursday night fun-run starts at the store.

“For us, it’s really about building community,” Anne said.

Lively Running

109 N. Oak Park Ave.

708-358-0605

Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

A grand opening is planned for Aug. 9, with a balloon artist, face painter, boot camps and a fun run with doughnuts.

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Read about Ernest Hemingway and his ties to Oak Park by clicking here.

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