Meet Super Hero ANNE PEZALLA!

Anne co-owns Lively Athletics in Oak Park with her sister Kate.  Anne and Kate employ 10 people.

What does your business do?

Lively is committed to creating a warm and welcoming environment for female athletes of every level to buy their gear, shoes, and apparel.  We also have a great kids’ department with tons of shoes for your active kids.

What is “super” about your business?  Why is it special?

My business is super” because it is a family endeavor.  My sister Kate and I got obsessed with running at the same time  and had the crazy idea to open a business together. We’ve tried to keep our business feeling like a family even as we’ve grown and even make our employees sign a piece of paper on their first day that state our store policy is “customer second, employee first”.  I think neither Kate nor I could have ever anticipated just how much fun it is to own a business when you have the best employees on earth.”

Tell us a bit about yourself…

Kate is the real runner of the two of us.  She ran a marathon during her pregnancy and just won her age group in the Hemingway 8k! Yay, Kate! She has the cutest baby ever, my niece Avery.  As for me, my kids are a bit older (Piper is 8 and Budge is 6).  I run a bit, but mostly to support my new obsession: competitive powerlifting.  Kate and I both love good food and good beer, so Oak Park is just about the perfect place to call home. Beyond that, I have an amazing business book group that has helped me grow my business in every way and is the most supportive group of women ever.

If you could pick a super power, what would it be?

I guess super strength? I wouldn’t fight crime with it or anything, though. Just show off at the gym.  Wait. Does that make me sound bad? Maybe I should switch to flying.

Why did you choose to invest in our community?

Honestly, it wasn’t even much of a choice. Kate and I grew up here, we are raising our kids here, and we love it here.  It was written into our business plan from the beginning that we would open in Oak Park.  We love how the community really supports its small businesses and we love seeing friends every day at the store.

What local organizations have you been able to support in the past?

Right now, we are partnered with the amazing Best Foot Forward Running Group to donate a pair of shoes to every kid who comes to live at Hephzibah.  That’s a fun donation- we love fitting kids for shoes because they get so excited about the whole process. Beyond that, we love sponsoring local races and you’ll see our booth at all of them. We also never say no to a school when they ask for a donation.  We’ve donated to their raffles, hosted shopping nights, and sponsored fun runs.  One of the best parts of being in business is that it lets us give back so much to all the amazing charities in the Oak Park area.

What’s the weirdest thing you sell or offer? Or have there been any odd customer requests?

The weirdest thing we sell is maybe some of the fuel flavors? Salted watermelon and toasted marshmallow are not necessarily flavors you associate with running, but we can’t keep those flavors of GU in stock.

Name three of your favorite local businesses (besides yourself, of course!)

It is HARD to narrow it down to just three.  Sentimentally, I love Gem because that’s where I got my wedding ring and everything owner Laura Kitsos makes is beautiful. Second, I’m a HUGE fan of Oak Park Brewing Company. Owner Jim Cozzens has been a great partner to Lively- he’s always up for any event I suggest (we did a boxing class in his brewery with Hit It! Fitness one morning) and he gave all of our customers a free beer on Small Business Saturday.  Plus, their beer is perfect.  Another favorite is definitely Sugar Fixe.  One of my kids’ favorite Christmas traditions is picking out a new ornament at Scratch ‘n’ Sniff and then getting cookies and hot chocolate at Sugar Fixe.  Winter in Chicago is brutal, but Sugar Fixe’s hot chocolate almost makes it worth it.

Visit Anne Pezalla at Lively Athletics

109 N. Oak Park Avenue

Oak Park, IL 60301 or

Small Business Super Heroes is a partnership between the Oak Park – River Forest Chamber of Commerce and Wednesday Journal’s

This Super Hero profile was created on July 18, 2017

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