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Promoting fitness in Brookings

Posted: Monday, Mar 26th, 2012

Epic Nutrition manager Ashli Budahl arranges products on the store’s shelves Friday. Epic Nutrition opened March 1 in the Eastside Commons shopping center and carries a line of both muscle-building products and vitamins and supplements. Photo by Charis Ubben/Register

• New nutrition, body-building store leveraging power of local ownership

A former South Dakota State football player and now Brookings Police officer, Joe Fishbaugher has wanted for some time to contribute to fitness in Brookings. His first thought was to open a gym.

“But this town is pretty much saturated with gyms already. So, the next best step to be involved with that is to provide what these people who work out want and need,” Fishbaugher said.

“Being into college athletics and everything, I realized the importance of (body-building and nutritional supplements) but also how expensive it is. And I wanted some way to be involved in this, to help people out. We can give them decent prices – they don’t have to walk into a store where everything is marked up 80 percent.”

Fishbaugher and his fiancé, Nikki Chapman, opened Epic Nutrition in the Eastside Commons (formerly the Brookings Mall) March 1. Fishbaugher’s longtime weightlifting partner, Justin Borns, contributed his marketing abilities and ideas to get the store off the ground. Epic Nutrition now has two employees: store manager Ashli Budahl and sales associate Morgan McLain.

Though the name Epic Nutrition is also used by a company that makes sports nutrition products, the two businesses are not affiliated, and the Brookings store is not a franchise. Chapman and Fishbaugher chose the name, and they are considering satellite locations and other possibilities for the future.

Right now, they’re focusing on building an inventory tailored to their customers. When someone stops into the shop and asks for an item Epic doesn’t have, Budahl takes a note and, often, the store adds that item to its shelves.

“We get the stuff in, and we personally call them and say, ‘Hey, it’s here, come on in and get it,’” Fishbaugher said. “We’re just really trying to cater to the community, what they want, instead of just coming in here and putting on the shelves what we think they need.”

If a customer is looking for a certain result but doesn’t know what product fits the bill, Epic staff will either make a suggestion or do some online research and get back to them. For example, a painter who has lost his sense of smell came into the store recently, asking for a product that might bring it back. Chapman did her research and found some suggestions.

Epic carries several products popular because they have been featured on the Dr. Oz show, such as Raspberry Ketones and wild lettuce. It has natural products for things like tremors, ADHD, digestion aid and menopause, as well as a line of vitamins. It also carries the muscle-building products that Fishbaugher has used in his personal regimen.

Borns said his 14 years as a “gym rat” and personal research has shown him the importance of the products Epic is selling.

“When I first started, I just went into the gym and started throwing weights around, lifting stuff. As I kind of got involved, there’s more to lifting and staying healthy than just the gym – it’s all this up here combined with the gym,” he said, motioning to Epic’s shelves. “According to the stats, to become healthy it’s 70 percent nutrition and 30 percent gym to achieve that. So, after the years of trial and error, trial and error, more error than success, I found that that nutrition side was the side I was missing.”

McLain, an SDSU swim team member and nutrition major, said she joined the store wanting to broaden her horizons to learn about the sports and muscle-building supplements Epic carries.

“I’m really excited to try these products and learning more about them, and I’m excited to share my knowledge of the vitamins and the health,” McLain said. “And, I’m just excited that it’s a local company and we have the best prices no matter what.”

“And that’s been our goal from the beginning, is just to be helpful,” Chapman added. “Not to make tons of money; we just want to help and make sure everyone has the knowledge that they need.”

The owners plan to add more herbal and organic products, including vitamins and supplements for children and possibly for pets. Chapman said she’ll focus on these products while Fishbaugher continues to oversee the muscle-building product line.

The owners also plan for Epic Nutrition to sponsor local healthy living competitions and perhaps to bring in outside participants for strong man competitions or similar events. Fishbaugher said this goal falls in line with Brookings being named South Dakota’s healthiest community not long ago.

“We want to kind of keep it that way. We want to be part of that and keep pushing that, helping people know this is a healthy town and a good place to live,” he said.

Learn more at www.epicnutritionsd.com or by visiting the store on Facebook.

Contact Charis Ubben at cubben@-brookingsregister.com.

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