From Shoes to Volunteer Work, Richard Dafoe of See Dick Run Wants to Share His Passion for Running
By Marla DeFoe
Richard “Dick” Dafoe has always had a passion for running. He grew up in Grand Forks and ran cross country in high school. While on a trip with his team, his coach took him to a special running shop in Saint Paul, Minnesota. “It was like the clouds parted and the choir sang,” Dafoe said. “I never knew there were specialty stores for runners like me.”
After graduating from high school, Dafoe went to the University of Iowa, where he received his teaching degree. He moved back to Grand Forks in 2008, where he taught middle school and coached cross country and track. After a few years, he realized something was missing. “I coached cross country, I coached track, I ran every day, and I taught. One of those things didn’t fit,” he said.
So he sat down with his wife Becky, and formulated a plan to start a running store. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without her blessing,” he said. She even came up with the idea for the store name, See Dick Run. The store is a fun play on the See Dick and See Jane books. “She came up with the idea because, almost daily, she would hear from a friend or neighbor who told her they had seen me running.”
See Dick Run initially opened in 2014 on the south end of Grand Forks. The store moved to its current downtown location 1.5 years ago. Dafoe is very happy with the move. “Moving to downtown has helped us become a center of the community,” he said. “We see a lot more foot traffic, as more people wish to shop local and support local family businesses.”
Community is very important to Dafoe. “We aren’t just a running store,” he said. “We see each person who walks in the door as a person, not just a customer.” His goal is to continue to build relationships and a sense of belonging. “We love running, and we want others to love running as well. Our motto is ‘Where Life and Running Intersect’.” His clientele includes anyone from middle school kids just getting into running, all the way to 90-year-old customers with foot pain. As I sat in the store chatting with Dafoe and petting his dog Winnie, I watched as he greeted customers by name, asked about their families, and laughed and joked like old friends.
Service and expertise are what sets the team at See Dick Run apart from other shoe stores. “We see people from every walk of life, and we are able to help them address issues with everything from foot shape, to gait, to foot pain.” There are treadmills at the store, so the employees at See Dick Run can analyze how a person runs or walks, and find them the correct shoes to fit their needs. “In a lot of ways, we are an extension of a doctor’s office,” Dafoe says.
The team at See Dick Run includes Dafoe, full-time staff member Adam, who has been with the store since it first opened, as well as part time employees, Cassidy and Matt. And of course, the friendly greeter Winnie, who runs up to every person as they walk into the store, tail wagging and tongue out, just waiting for a pat on the head.
See Dick Run hosts group runs on Thursday evenings, ending with drinks and food at Rhombus Brewing. “It’s a fun way to get together as a running community,” he said. “It’s more of a social event than a workout.” The runs are open to all skill levels, including people who just wish to walk. “It’s about coming together and having fun,” said Dafoe. “Without community, why do we live here?”
The team at See Dick Run is also very involved in other races and run events throughout the area. “We help with as many races as possible,” he said. “We do everything from helping to organize races, to timing, to donating gift cards and prizes to runners.”
Dafoe has a way of making you feel at ease, and a little excited to strap on some shoes and take a jog. So I asked him what advice he has for someone who wants to start running. “Too many people go into it with no idea of how to avoid injury,” he said. “As an adult, it’s important to understand that you need a slow transition into running.” His advice? Come to See Dick Run, have a gait analysis done, and get a pair of well-fitting shoes. “It may seem complex and overwhelming, but it’s what we do,” he said. “A good pair of shoes is so important to a runner’s health, and we are happy to help.” G
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PHOTOS BY: MANSTROM PHOTOGRAPHY
From Issue 2, 2022