PeopleForBikes retailers in action: Minnesota’s Touright Bicycle Shop

August 25, 2015

Mitch Marrison, retail program coordinator

In almost any town or city, bike shops are the hubs of the bicycling community. They are important to PeopleForBikes too: we have more than 1,000 retailer members bringing new riders into the movement and collecting donations to help fund our Community Grants program. Each month we showcase one of our retailer members who is going above and beyond to help improve bicycling in their own community. Last month we turned our blog over to our friends at Blazin Saddles in Sisters, Oregon. This month, we spoke with Susan Sperstad, co-owner of Touright Bicycle Shop about how despite being a relatively new shop, she and her husband David have already made bicycling better for the town of Little Falls, Minnesota.

Tell us about the history of Touright Bike Shop.
David has had a passion for bikes and bicycling all his life. He grew up in Tempe, Arizona and began fixing bicycles in his dad’s garage. He would accompany his father and brother to the Tempe Police Department’s bike auctions looking for hidden treasures to fix-up. Dave became a self-taught mechanic thanks to the good fortune of having an older brother who was good at taking things (like bikes) apart, but not at putting them back together. Back in the early 70’s Dave and his father, Marlowe started dreaming about opening a bicycle shop. The dream was put on hold for other ventures until 2014 when a career change rekindled the bike shop idea. Dave and I decided it was the right time and we opened January 27, 2015. So, this is our first season in the bike shop business.

What does the shop look like?
Touright is a located in a storefront in downtown Little Falls. Little Falls is a river town and we’re lucky to be able to see the Mississippi River from our front door. The building has high ceilings and exposed brickwork on an interior wall. The shop came with an interior porch in our front showroom that matches our rustic look. We are currently using ?up-cycled? bike parts for functional d?cor like hooks, lights and stools. We are a more classic shop with a service area near the register so people see that keeping bikes in good working order is one our top priorities. Touright has become a hang out for our regulars who like to pull up a stool and chat with Dave while he services bikes. Right now, it is Dave and I who staff the shop along with our dog, Cocoa.

How is Touright involved in the local community?
Prior to opening Touright, our customers had to travel about 60 miles round trip to get repair/service. Now that we’ve been in business for a few months, we can tell that the local community is fully behind the concept of a local bike shop with a sales and service department all in one location.

Since it’s our first year, we are still in the planning stages as far as events. We are starting out by joining other community groups to host events. We are also providing weekly group rides from the shop on Saturdays. Our family has had a long time affiliation with Habitat for Humanity through participation in the annual Habitat 500 bicycle ride. Our business plan includes donating bikes to the youth from our community who will reside in a Habitat home.

We are currently sponsoring an On the Road Repair Workshop with the help of the Thrivent Financial Action Team Program. With this program, we have 20 community members who are novice/casual riders set to attend. In conjunction with all this, we’ll be providing the community with similar educational events each month.

David helping a customer find the perfect bike for him

In what ways are you helping get more people on bikes?
Bicycling is a great way for people of all ages to stay active and fit. We are as thrilled to see a young child start out on a kick bike as much as finding a 94-year-old rider the right three-wheeled bike. The bicycling lifestyle brings people together in a positive way. We strive to help our customers enjoy bike riding at any level from novice to those who have a passion for the sport and everyone in between.

Touright is an extremely new bike shop. Having come from outside the industry, how is bicycle retail similar to, and different from, what you expected?
One surprise to us was that Dave automatically became a bike expert. He is constantly answering questions and giving advice about repairs and modifications people desire to help them fit right on their bike. Our customers almost look disappointed when they come in the shop and see that he is busy or has stepped out for a bit. Another unexpected aspect is how able we are to help so many people get on a bike who weren’t able to ride for a variety of reasons. Seeing the look of joy on their faces as they leave the shop is priceless. Finally, the fact that there really are bike shop groupies of all ages really took us by surprise. We are so amazed by the variety of wonderful and interesting people who frequent the shop on a more than regular basis and for non-bicycle related reasons. Also, the willingness of vendors to help us navigate our first year was much appreciated.

Do you have one day in the shop that stands out at as the most memorable?
The day we helped an individual who was unable to ride on account of his recurring Polio and thought he wouldn’t ride again. We were able to help him find a bicycle that he could ride under his own power. The smile on his face is one that will never be forgotten.

Our East Coast Crew stopped in to Touright to say hello to Susan, David and Cocoa

What does the future look like for Touright?
Going into our first off-season, we are not sure what to expect. However we do know that come springtime, we’ll be right here at Touright ready to help everyone discover how great life is on a bike.

A big thanks to Susan and David for their support!

You can find the PeopleForBikes retailers near you over at our Get Local map. If your local bike shop isn’t a member but should be, you can encourage them to sign up here.

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