Pence closing store, but Erikâ€™s Bike Shop to quickly fill the void
The Grafton business community is experiencing a classic bad news/good news scenario.
Grafton Ski & Cyclery, which has been in business since 1978 and a longtime cornerstone of the Mill Square retail center, is going out of business.
That dark cloud brightened with the announcement last week that Erikâ€™s Bike Shop will soon be opening at the location, 1275 Washington St.
A liquidation of existing inventory will be held at the store from Wednesday, Oct. 30, to Saturday, Nov. 3.
The building will then close until Erikâ€™s retools and opens at the location in December.
â€śThis is not something that just came up. It has been in the works for a year and a half,â€ť Grafton Ski & Cyclery owner Bill Pence said.
â€śIt was very important to me that we find a new owner who would take good care of my customers who have been incredibly supportive over the decades. The new owners run a good business, and I think they will be good for the community.â€ť
Pence said he is still adjusting to the idea of not having to go to the store every day.
â€śIt is bittersweet, in a way. Iâ€™ve been in the bike business for 40 years, but it hasnâ€™t been the same since Sally passed away two years ago,â€ť he said.
Pence ran the Grafton store with his wife, Sally, who died in summer of 2011.
Although the bike shop has been a longtime fixture in downtown Grafton, Pence said recent years have been especially challenging.
â€śThe economy hasnâ€™t been the greatest, and the fact it didnâ€™t snow much for the last two winters didnâ€™t help,â€ť he said.
In announcing the acquisition, new owner Erik Saltvold said he was excited about becoming a part of the community.
â€śGrafton is a beautiful community. We look forward to getting the new location opened to serve Grafton and its surrounding communities,â€ť Saltvold said.
The Erikâ€™s Bike Shop brand was started in 1977, when Saltvold opened a repair shop in a barn behind his parentsâ€™ home in Richfield, Minn., at the age of 13.
Using money he earned from a paper route, the teenager bought 50 used bikes, repaired them and resold them.
The Bloomington, Minn.-based retail chain now includes 20 shops in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It opened a shop in Whitefish Bay last month and already has stores in Madison and Eau Claire.
The company has more than 300 employees.
Much like its predecessor, the Grafton store will specialize in products used in biking, downhill skiing and snowboarding.
According to the company, it carries top ski brands including K2, Line, Fisher and Elan; snowboard brands Ride, K2, Lib Tech, Roxy and Gnu; amd cycling brands Specialized, Raleigh, Wilier, FIT and Haro.
A full selection of apparel, accessories and service items will also be carried.
The chain has won numerous industry honors, including repeated Gold Star Awards from Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.
Through the business, Saltvold has established an extensive philanthropy program, sponsoring a host of benefit bike rides and a high-school mountain bike league in Minnesota.
Image Information: CHANGES ARE COMING at Grafton Ski & Cyclery, which is liquidating its inventory and will reopen in December as Erikâ€™s Bike Shop. Grafton Ski & Cyclery has been operating in the villageâ€™s downtown since 1978. Photo by Mark Jaeger