My Personal Hero
Hello there, Factorians! Have you ever felt as though you have been in the presence of sheer genius? I have, every time I come in to work. Far be it from Dr. Love to gloat about what goes on at his favorite running store, but recently I have been reminded of the life I led this past summer and the many blessings which come with it. Imagine yours truly coming home from a long day teaching at school and coaching the cross country team, and signing on to the Facebook to a message saying DEAN SHONTS had pictures of me! ME! DEAN! DEAN! ME! The overwhelming joy, as you could imagine, is simply unfathomable. I, who have been working in the running industry for only 4 years to be pictured with the man who quite literally started the business in the great State of New Jersey?! Ever see that American Idol show where they match the contestants with one of their star heroes? Do any of them deserve to be in the presence of Steven Tyler or any other music demagogue Fox pays off to come on? Definitely not, and nor do I deserve the opportunity to learn from Not-So-Mean-Dean, but I get to anyways!
Dean started Sneaker Factory Running Center as an off-shoot of a place called Sneaker Factory back in 1978, two years before my parents met, three years before they married and eight years before I was born. Dean worked here and there for the original Sneaker Factory and single-handedly created the running shoe wall in that store. Being an entrepeneur and all around Renaissance Man that he is, Dean saw an opportunity to develop something that had not yet been done: a store to specialize in the needs of runners such as Dean, and his eventual wife Betty. Dean opened his own store in Millburn, right across the street from where the current store operates. It was here that Dean, being the FIRST running store owner in New Jersey and one of the original in the entire United States of America quite literally took the world by storm. What was once thought to be next to be impossible, became a modern day empire- the greatest single capitol entity since the British empire.
Fast forward 33 years, two more stores, and hundreds of amazing employees and customers since and Sneaker Factory is going strong. Dean may not own the store any more, after having handed the reins over to Mike, but he is still totally involved. Often times I think to myself- “is there anyone with more experience or remotely close to as much knowledge as Not-So-Mean Dean?” The answer is definitely no. I mistakenly thought that Bill Bowerman might have, but truth be told, he didn’t. Somehow the stars have aligned and I managed to be allowed to work with The Great One- and I don’t mean Wayne Gretzky (eh), I mean Dean. As if working with him isn’t enough, check this picture out!
This is Dr, Love saying thanks for being you Dean!