“People come in looking for vacuums, and I’ll turn them into runners.”

It’s a proclamation you don’t hear every day, and Peter Asciutto may be the only person in the world who can say it with a straight face. Asciutto owns Vac and Dash, a combination vacuum cleaner-running shoe store in Albermarle, N.C. Since Vac and Dash’s inception in 2003, it has become the hub of the town’s vibrant running community, sponsoring cross country teams, races, and hosting regular group runs on Albermarle’s scenic roads.

Vac and Dash was originally split down the middle, with vacuum cleaners on one side of the shop, running shoes on the other, but as Albermarle’s running community expanded, so has Vac and Dash’s shoe and clothing selection. Now, the vacuum bags are displayed in the dressing rooms, so you can pick out a bag while you try on the latest short shorts.

Asciutto got the idea of a combo store while traveling as a vacuum cleaner rep. “There’s a vacuum shop in Johnson City, Tennessee, that sells vacuums and guns. And it works,” Asciutto says. “I figured if they could sell guns and vacuums, I could sell running shoes and vacuums.”

Combo stores are actually common in small southern towns where retailers and tradesmen have to wear multiple hats. Asciutto pokes fun at the tradition with some of his race t-shirts (Vac and Dash is also a screen printing shop…and a UPS shipping store), which are sponsored by fake businesses like Barney’s Animal Clinic and Taxidermy (“If we can’t fix ‘em, we’ll stuff ‘em”).

“Everyone thought I was crazy when I opened the shop. They said pick one or the other,” Asciutto says. “But it’s actually been good in this economy. Sometimes the vacuums are hot, some times the shoes are hot.”

Four ridiculous questions for Vac and Dash owner Peter Asciutto

What’s the fastest vacuum on the market?
Haven’t raced them yet. However, my money would be on the Kirby self-propelled over the Hoover Windtunnel self-propelled.

Ever thought of putting on a vacuum race?
No, but I have thought of having someone run in a Vac &  Dash shirt at a race carrying an Oreck vacuum in each hand.

Vacuum: Bagged or bagless? Bagged. Bagless vacuums are dirtier than bagged and have overpriced filters that need to be replaced twice a year.

If you could add one more service to your current business, what would it be?
Check-cashing store. Since we already carry some swimming supplies, we could change our name to Vac, Dash, Splash, n’ Cash.