Newbury Street pop-up shop sells gear for runners of all shapes and sizes

What’s the first image that comes to mind when you think of a Boston runner? Chances are it’s not one of the people running alongside Sidney Baptista.

Baptista is the founder of the Dorchester-based PIONEERS Run Crew, a collective of runners whose goal is to diversify a still predominantly white sport. But even with this support, the band members still didn’t have everything they needed. Baptista said sportswear in mainstream stores doesn’t suit many body types, so they created their own streetwear brand and last week opened a pop-up store in Back Bay.

“Our community of runners is very different from what you would see at the start line, the front line of the Boston Marathon, isn’t it?” he said. “We’re the people in the back, we’re the people in the middle of the pack. And some of those bodies aren’t skinny. I would say most marathon bodies aren’t skinny, skinny and tall.”

PYNRS Performance Streetwear launched last year with the aim of making gear for athletes who may have never seen someone like them depicted on billboards, advertisements or in major brand stores. It’s a mark for runners who may not have what Baptista calls “ambitious bodies.” And that brand now has a home with a pop-up store at 81 Newbury St. – just in time for the 126th Boston Marathon.

The store will only be open during the month of April, as PYNRS has an idea of ​​what’s next. But Baptista is keenly aware of the impact the black-owned business is having on Newbury Street, on a par with big brands like Nike on marathon week.

“Boston is a pretty elite crowd, but people of color who come to Boston, they always say, ‘We never find anything from the colored community, it’s like black or brown when we come to Boston. for the marathon. “Well, yeah, because we don’t live here,” he said of the area around the finish line. “So to be able to have a space here to accommodate people who come to the city from different, sort of diverse backgrounds, I think that’s something that’s been missing for a while.

“And we do it big, don’t we?” he said. “We are a premium apparel company and we provide a truly premium experience.”

The history of PYNRS goes back far beyond Sunday’s pop-up grand opening. Baptista, who founded the racing team in 2017, had the idea for a brand around three years ago.

In February 2021, he launched a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $50,000 to help get the brand off the ground properly.

One of the people who has helped Baptista along the way is Derrick Duplessy, whose nonprofit Duplessy Foundation works to mentor women, immigrants and minority business owners.

“You know, I think the biggest challenge of being an entrepreneur is that you do everything yourself to start with and now you have to trust others as your vision gets bigger and bigger,” he said. he declares. “So that was really cool to see, and there’s still more that Sid needs to do to get the store to work and the e-commerce website to work. So there’s a bit more work to do, but I’m very excited to see its growth and other people take on leadership roles in its vision.”

This vision was on full display during a grand opening celebration for the store. Guests and old friends mingled as a DJ played tunes on a speaker. It looked less like a traditional store and more like an art gallery with crisp white walls creating a canvas for the equipment to shine.

The merchandise available in the store contains all the essentials a runner would need: shirts, jogging pants, sports bras, sweatshirts, selection of trainers from brands such as Nike and Adidas and beanies for cold days .

But many in attendance at the grand opening were less focused on retail and more on commemorating all the PIONEERS and Baptista had done to diversify the sport.

“I think representation in athletics is really important, especially these days,” said Raven Sead, who volunteered at the store on Sunday. “And I think Sidney is doing a really cool thing, you know? Extending those resources and that marketing to people who look like regular people, because those are the athletes at the end of the day.”

For Barak Soreff, one of the leaders of the PIONEERS Run Crew, the brand is a logical evolution for the group.

“Sid started PIONEERS Run Crew to bring running to his own neighborhood and his community, and this clothing line is, like I said, it’s like an extension, like the next step of that” , did he declare. “It’s like, OK, we do our business where we want to do [it], with whom we want to do it. Now, let’s create specially adapted clothes – no pun intended – specially designed for these people. »

Laura J. Boyer