The last thing Deric Tedora had in mind for a hobby was running. And the last thing he ever, ever had in mind for a career was owning a running store in downtown Monroe.
“I was not a runner, whatsoever. I played baseball, I played football. Running was a punishment,” said Tedora, who does, in fact, own a running store in downtown Monroe, RunHip, and who is an avid road racer and marathon runner at age 44.
Tedora’s mother, Michele Chakmakian, has long been a runner and marathon veteran. “She’d say, ‘Wanna go run with me?’ and I’d go, ‘No!'” said Tedora.
In 2006, he tore an ACL playing basketball. “I started to run to rehabilitate my knee and I developed a passion,” he said. “My regret is I didn’t start doing this earlier.”
Tedora was in sales for a mortgage firm when the Great Recession hit in 2008. “Eventually, I had to find a new career,” he said. He got a job selling cars, but wasn’t happy. “I was just grinding away at the car dealership.”
He was happy, though, with his newfound love of running. In August 2016, RunHip opened in one of a series of rehabbed stores in downtown owned by local developer Ken Wickenheiser. Tedora visited the store a few times and got hired to a part-time job that October. “I bought half the company in January 2017, and a year later I bought my partner out,” he said. “I always thought some day I’d own a business, but I never had a running store in mind. I’m just so happy doing this. Every day, I look forward to coming to work.”
Tedora has lived in Monroe his whole life, graduating from St. Mary Catholic Central High School before attending the University of Toledo. He saw the demise of Monroe’s central business district and has seen its revival. “Downtown Monroe lacked retail for a long time. I wanted to do my part.”
When he started working at the store, it was more of a general sports store, with running, sailing and biking equipment. Over time he has changed it to a strict focus on running.
“The store makes money. It’s grown slowly. The goal is to have 10 percent growth year over year and we’ve been doing that,” said Tedora, who has three employees. “My retention rate for customers once they find us is fabulous.”
Like running stores that have sprung up in other communities — including the Running Fit stores in Ann Arbor, West Bloomfield, Northville and Traverse City; the Hanson brothers’ stores in Utica, Royal Oak, Lake Orion and Grosse Pointe Woods; and Total Runner in Southgate — RunHip has become a magnet for group runs and social events.
Every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning, 20-30 runners meet at the store for a run, four to six miles on Wednesday nights, eight miles on Saturdays. The runners range in pace from very slow to very fast and in age from mid-20s to 72. Wednesdays, they head out to a local bar or restaurant for some food and a beer or two or three to replace those electrolytes sweated out. Saturdays, they head over to Aqua Dulce Coffee & Tea Room in downtown Monroe for coffee, tea and pastries.
“We’ve become a tight-knit group,” said Tedora. They have taken road trips to marathons in Grand Rapids and Traverse City and each year do the team Great Lakes Relay, a trail event that begins in Grayling and finishes in the northern Michigan resort town of Empire.
One of the best of the group, Emily Van Wasshenova, placed third in the 2018 Detroit Free Press marathon in 2:56:15, and finished second in this year’s Glass City Marathon in Toledo in 2:54:17.
Another runner, Joshua Skampo, is also very competitive, setting his best time of 2:56:08 at the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City last May. His time is impressive, a sub-three hour marathon something of a Holy Grail for amateur marathon runners. What makes his time more impressive is Skampo has cystic fibrosis.
Joshua Skampo runs to help manage his cystic fibrosis symptoms.
“He runs to keep alive. He coughs the whole time. People that don’t know him will go up to him and say, ‘Are you OK?’ And he’s ‘I’m fine,'” said Tedora.
Cystic fibrosis causes thick mucus to accumulate in various organs, including the pancreas, the intestines and, most importantly, the lungs.
Skampo says his running eases his symptoms and leaves him feeling better and able to breathe more easily. He ran cross-country and track at Adrian High School and has continued to run through adulthood, with 11 marathons to his credit.
“I was always encouraged to run. I was running in sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade. I always enjoyed running and my lung function is a lot better when I do. It clears everything out,” he said. “When I don’t run, the next day is rough. There is infection and bacteria in there. If I can get it out, I’m going to feel a lot better.”
Last July, Skampo was training for the North Country Trail Run, a 50-mile race near Manistee, and was running a half-marathon in Farwell in preparation. A dog ran out on the road and came after him. He turned to yell at the dog, fell hard to the ground and developed a blood clot that sidelined him for almost two months.
At the time he was running about 75 miles a week, with a peak week of 100 miles.
Not one to let a charging dog, or a blood clot, keep him from a goal, he has already entered next year’s North Country race, and as a precursor has entered April’s 33.5-mile Kal-Haven Trail race, which runs from Kalamazoo to South Haven.
Skampo, who graduated with a degree in architectural design, works in the engineering department at Monroe’s Fluid Equipment Development Co., a manufacturer of high pressure water pumps. He said he was excited to hear in 2016 that Monroe was going to get its own running store.
“When I heard a running store was coming here, I was looking forward to it. I spent the first 10 or 12 years running by myself before I ever ran with anyone,” he said. “I saw the positive impact a running store had in Adrian. I was hoping it would do the same thing in Monroe, and it did. You can see the sense of community here. People like running together, and they have been improving their times dramatically.”