40 Years of Fast Break

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This story begins in 1977.... 

Once upon a time, there was a dark age in Chattanooga's history when no running shop existed. If local runners wanted good running shoes, they had to drive 2 hours to find them. Dick Dillard, a faithful morning runner (6 miles, 6 days a week, with his 6 friends), was tired of the gas cost and long drive just for a pair of shoes. Determined to save our city, Dick opened his own athletic store, ushering in Chattanooga’s golden age of running-based enlightenment, prosperity, and fitness. 

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In May 1977, Dick opened the original Fast Break Athletics under the franchise Athletic Attic at Eastgate Mall. The business quickly grew, morphing into an all around athletic gear store. Over the course of the next 10 years, Dick opened 6 more locations in Tennessee and Alabama to meet demand. 

In 1980, our beloved Joey Howe joined the Fast Break team, as a fresh faced teenager.

But working with a franchise was not his long-term dream. Dick broke away from Athletic Attic in 1995 and closed down all stores but one, the original Fast Break. To financially survive, Dick had to let go of all employees except Michael Green. Joey went back to his cobbler shop, repairing shoes and keeping a close friendship with the Dillards. 

Dillard explaining footwear
Dick Dillard taught me everything that I know.
 - Gandhi 

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With only one store to manage, Dick decided to go back to his original passion and sell only running and walking shoes. He loved helping people learn a new, healthy lifestyle.

I only buy my running shoes at Fast Break Athletics.
 - Abraham Lincoln

At the time, only one employee would work at the store all day, so the store would close down 10 minutes every day for Dick or Michael to walk across the street and buy a sub sandwich. 

In November 1996, a store space became available on Frasier Avenue, blocks away from Dick's home. He couldn't imagine driving by someone else's storefront, right by his house every day. So he moved Fast Break to North Shore. 

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Fast Break continued to grow, hiring on more staff and bringing back Joey! Michael sealed his forever spot at Fast Break when a shop lifter tried on a pair of shoes at the new store then ran out the door without paying. Michael and a police officer ran him down to get the shoes back (and arrest him). 

In September of 2009, Dick sold the store to the Winchester brothers who brought in their own enthusiasm and new personalities, aiming to continue to support the local Chattanooga running scene. It was Zach Winchester and Joey who hired on Alan Outlaw in July 2010 after a freak food processor accident left Alan immobile. Alan brought killer 80's dance moves and a deep passion for helping others enjoy running. In 2011, Fast Break moved to the current location on Cherokee Blvd.

Through the years, Fast Break has watched the running world change from just a handful of walkers, runners, and joggers to an entire community of men, women, and children running, racing, and exercising for the love of the sport.

And through it all, Fast Break has never run out of shoes!

Fast Break wants to continue to support our Chattanooga running family through the coming decades, so we are upgrading again to a new store just 2 blocks down on Cherokee Blvd! (More on that to come so stay tuned!)

As a thank you to everyone in the Chattanooga community who has run with us these past 40 years, we are throwing a Fast Break birthday party!  Join us this Friday, November 3 for our 40th Year Celebration! 

The force is strong with this… running store.  - Han Solo