After three years of training on the South Side lakefront, runner Ian Gonzalez was tired of going to the North Side to get all the items he needed to support his passion for running. He decided to do something about it. In September of this year, he opened the Last Lap Cornerstore in Boxville, the container mall on 51st Street in Washington Park.
Gonzalez came to Boxville through GumboFit, a community of runners on Chicago’s South and West sides. GumboFit’s parent organization, Gumbo Media, has a partnership with the Bronzeville Incubator, the parent organization of Boxville. It was through these connections that Gonzalez made contact with Bernard Loyd, the founder of the Bronzeville Incubator, and the idea for the Last Lap became a reality.
“It’s a running store. It’s of the community. It’s for the community,” said Gonzalez. “I carry nutrition, recovery tools, recovery items, running apparel, strength apparel, yoga stuff. And it’s honestly the only one on the South Side right now.”
“The pandemic kind of made me minimize the vision for Last Lap,” he continued. “To just really focus on the functionality of the store, just getting the items to the runners.”
“As the world gets back to normal, when things start to open up again, I want Last Lap to be a hub. Now and forever,” he continued. “I want runners to feel like they can start their run from the store, end their run at the store, (and) be (at) a watering hole in the middle of it.”
When he first opened the store, Gonzalez imagined that the Boxville location, 332 E. 51st St., would be temporary, but that changed.
“The unapologetically authentic Blackness that I feel while being here, makes me want to stay,” said Gonzalez. “I know Boxville has plans to grow, more boxes, grow out and up. As long as they can accommodate the store and my vision for this store, I have no intentions of going anywhere.”
Correction: This article initially gave the wrong name for Gonzalez's store. It is Last Lap Cornerstore, not Last Stop Cornerstore.