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Running: Michelle Fox finds her calling in store ownership

When Michelle Fox started working at Runner’s Roost, it was only meant to be a supplement to her income. The former standout distance runner at Orchard Park High School was coaching cross country at Niagara University. Newly married, she was looking for a second job.

Dave Borodzik, the owner of Runner’s Roost, thought she’d be a great addition to the staff. After all, Fox had grown up coming to the store for her shoes and gear ever since she stared for the Quakers. It was just supposed to be a side job.

But 10 years later, Fox and her husband, Robert, ended up buying the store.

The family officially took ownership of the store at 4190 North Buffalo Rd. in Orchard Park in November, the first new owner of the south towns establishment in its 34-year history.

But this isn’t where she originally thought she’d be.

“I thought coaching was my calling,” Fox said this week. “I still miss coaching. That’s why I have a psychology degree. Then I started coaching and thought, ‘This is my calling.’ Then had the baby, and coaching wasn’t working out for me with having kids. I saw this has something I can do with a family. Then three years after I started working here I thought this is my calling.”

Because there still is plenty of “coaching” to do and she can put that degree in psychology to use helping relate to her customers and get to the root of what they’re looking for and what they need.

And Fox learned a lot of that from watching Borodzik work.

“I hadn’t worked there a year and I was promoted to manager and all of a sudden Dave and I started working closer together,” Fox said. “Dave never delegated, but I always asked for more responsibility. I’d do anything to take it off his hands and learn more. I was interested in learning more.

“Dave is great at sales. He was a basketball player. He’s never run a day in his life, but look at the store he created. From Day 1 I watched him wait on customers and noticed the little things he did, the things that mattered. He’d always greet people by their first name. I remember as a kid that made me feel at home. We have the same values, growing up we came from the same type of family. We worked well together.”

So when Borodzik started thinking about retirement, Fox started approaching him about buying the store. The two started working on the sale at the end of 2015. But in January of 2016, Fox learned she was pregnant with her third child.

“My husband was working construction and we found out that he would be out of town in Albany for eight months,” Fox said. “I’m like, Dave I have two kids at home, my husband’s going away for eight months and I’m pregnant. Do you mind pushing this back a year? This may not be the best time to be taking over a business. He knew he wanted to sell to me and he was willing to wait.”

The sale went through Nov. 3 and Fox has kept everything rolling the way it has. She is honoring all the community work Runner’s Roost as done in the past. She carries on with the customer service the store is known for.

There are plans for the future. Customers have been asking for a north towns location and will that’s not in the immediate future, it certainly is on the new ownership’s radar. And the new owners are certainly all in.

“We own the store, we bought it, it’s our whole entire life our family’s life that we risked to do this,” Fox said. “But it’s a risk we knew we wanted to take.”

Race Calendar

Saturday, Dec. 2

  • Holly Jolly, 5K, 10 a.m., The Orchard Fresh Plaza, 4050 N. Buffalo St., Orchard Park

Sunday, Dec. 3

  • GBTC 5K Cross Country Race, 9 a.m., Delaware Park Golf Course

Saturday, Dec. 9

  • Niagara PAL Santa Dash, 5k, 9 a.m., Sheraton at the Falls, 300 3rd St., Niagara Falls
  • Yeti Dash 5K Run/Walk, 10 a.m., Ellery Town Park, Route 430 & Heineman Rd., Greenhurst

Sunday, Dec. 10

  • Freezer 5K, 11 a.m., Buffalo Iron Works, 49 Illinois St.
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