Easy Riders Bicycle and Sportshop, on Washington Street, recently underwent a facelift.
Owners Kenn and Lori Shepherd noted their business is just the second to operate out of the 1939 Brainerd building.
Meyers Cleaner and Launders was operated out of the building until 1988. That year, the Shepherds purchased Meyers from Barb Huso, whose family started the business in St. Cloud and expanded to Brainerd. All those years in between the Huso family supplied; cleaning services to resorts and hospitals; uniforms, supplies and rugs to businesses; and household cleaning and dry cleaning. In 1988, those services were transferred back to St. Cloud and trucks handled return delivery of finished items to the lakes area. With the change in business, the building became available. Easy Riders, then in west Brainerd between the Northland Arboretum and Brainerd Area Civic Center, needed more space and purchased the Washington Street location.
The purchase of the building came a complete make-over of a cleaning plant with a small retail desk, to a 10,000-square-foot showroom of bicycle and sporting goods. The first thing they did was move the entrance off busy Washington Street to new parking lots to the west. The yellow brick building was brightened to all white brick.
The Shepherds said their business home since 1988 has been a great location to grow the business of quality bicycles and other fine sporting goods. There have been annual improvements on the old building, including a similar improvement to the back west section about four years ago but the Shepherds said the building was showing its age.
Working with the Mainstreet Program starting back in 2011 and into 2012 under the direction of Amy Ellingson, the Shepherds were asked if they were interested in this service of improving the storefront as part of a national campaign to improve the downtown storefronts in every city.
The national level of Mainstreet had this plan under way to show business owners what the options are to make their store more inviting, the Shepherds said. Emily Northey, from Minnesota Mainstreet, and Brainerd’s Mainstreets former director, outlined this idea to Easy Riders and other business owners in the Brainerd area.
Three business applied to have their business plan drawn up for review. Bob Ogdahl, local architect from Architecture One, was in charge of doing this in Brainerd. He was asked to bring these business back as close as possible to original. The Shepherds were looking for something more modern. So with combining both ideas, and working with Dan Chislom Stucco and its team, the new look was created.
The Shepherds said they are happy with the results and thankful for the help in getting the store to this level and for the customer support for the past 40 years in Brainerd.