Anyone who has lived, shopped, eaten, worked, or relaxed in Downtown Conway will likely tell you that one of the best things about it is the connections that are formed by the community of Merchants, Partners, and Patrons. Many of our businesses are small and family-owned, and that creates an environment in which staff and customers can form long-term personal relationships with one another.
One such business is The Sporty Runner, which opened on Van Ronkle Street 22 years ago, and is Arkansas’ oldest family-owned specialty running store. Their team is the perfect example of the care and consideration that small businesses have for their town.
Linda Starr opened The Sporty Runner in February of 1999, initially calling it The Sporty Lady, and she still runs the store with her son, Don. She loves meeting and helping customers find the perfect shoe, and also answering any questions about nutrition, proper apparel, and training to make sure that everyone leaves with all the knowledge they need to pursue an active lifestyle.
Outside of running the store, Linda loves working out by walking and hiking outside. She has been involved with Women Run Arkansas Clinics since their inception, and also enjoys bringing Sadie, her Yorkie Poo, to work with her so she can meet everyone who stops by the store.
Don Starr has been the manager of The Sporty Runner for 20 years, and enjoys building relationships with customers and helping them find the ideal activewear for running and walking.
Outside of work, Don enjoys exercising by going on hikes with his dog, Bronson. Bronson sometimes comes to work to hang out with Linda’s dog, Sadie.
Stephanie Bates handles sales and general day-to-day activities on the floor of The Sporty Runner. Her favorite part of the job is meeting new people and learning about all the different personalities that make up Downtown Conway.
Stephanie comes from a family of entrepreneurs - her mother owns her own business, and Stephanie is married to Roger of Conway’s own Bates Furniture.
Yvonne Schrepfer is the assistant manager of The Sporty Runner, and spends her time stocking shelves, taking inventory, and fitting customers. She gets to see all kinds of people from all over Arkansas in the course of her work.
Yvonne comes from a military family - her husband served with the US Army for 21 years.
Small businesses like The Sporty Runner offer something unique that goes far beyond their inventory - service that focuses on the customer as an individual, not just a sale or a number, a team of people committed to excellence, and a shared history of pursuing their dreams in a Place with so much history woven into its fabric.
These Merchants care about Downtown Conway and its people because they also live, shop, eat, work, and relax here. Just walk through one of their doors, and we’re sure you’ll see what we mean. #YourPlaceIsHere #DowntownStrong