Family continues bike shop tradition

[imagebrowser id=3413]

Former Austin resident Larry Godfredson still remembers how at the age of 8 he used to help out at R&F Bike and Mower Service in Austin. His father and grandfather, Russ and Fred Godfredson, ran the business for 57 years before it closed in 1996.

The historic Austin bicycle retailer no longer exists, but Godfredson kept the wheels turning in Storm Lake, Iowa. About three hours drive from where the original shop used to be, Lakeshore Cyclery keeps hold of the family’s original business principles and pulls in customers from great distances.

“A lot of it’s based on how you do business,” Godfredson said, adding that much of what he does now is reminiscent of the way his father and grandfather ran the Austin shop. His father taught him, his three brothers and his sister to work off the premise of telling the truth about the product, “or else you shouldn’t be selling it.”

His sister, Austin resident Susan Tweet, said Godfredson behaves much like his father did around customers. Both wouldn’t let them leave before showing them how to adjust the bike seats, work the gears and operate the bike in general.

Godfredson started to build his bicycle expertise when he was 8. He worked in his father’s bike shop in Austin, putting pedals, handlebars and seats on bikes for 15 cents a piece. Tweet also helped in the shop, though she wasn’t allowed to put bikes together like her brother.

 

“My dad basically wanted me to work out selling bicycles in the front and waiting on people,” Tweet said.

 

She and other family members have ridden some of the antique bicycles they have collected over the years during parades in Storm Lake and often in Austin and other nearby areas. Her nephew’s daughter rides in parades now, making the tradition span four generations.

Godfredson kept working at the shop while he went to vocational school, and stayed involved even after he shifted his focus of working in auto body paint and repair.

He moved to Storm Lake in 1982, and worked for a while at a Cadillac dealership as the body shop manager. It wasn’t long before he started thinking about opening a new bike shop.

“I really missed the bicycle part of it and just thought this town needed it,” Godfredson said.

Soon the dealership decided to close some of its departments, and the body shop was one of them. Godfredson faced a big decision, and ended up diving into the bike business full time.

“My dad gave me a trailer full of old bikes, and I began this business,” he said. “It kind of reminds me how my grandpa Fred and my dad started their business.”

The shop began with 15 or 20 bikes on the floor. Two relocations and 27 years later, Godfredson said Lakeshore Cyclery now has about 400 on the floor alone, and a total of 800 in stock.

“We have a huge inventory,” he said. “We probably have more parts and accessories than most stores in the big cities like Des Moines and Omaha.”

That’s not going unnoticed. Bicycle Retailer named the shop one of the U.S.’s top 100 bike dealers of 2011. Godfredson went to an award ceremony in Las Vegas to accept the award.

“He’s very passionate about what he does,” Tweet said.

For the last 10 years, Godfredson said he has focused on increasing the shop’s numbers and expanding out. Right now, the shop is looking at the possibility of opening up a store in Carroll, Iowa.

Lakeshore Cyclery has about nine employees, four of which are full time. Godfredson said he tells his employees they will be developing a trade. It may not be quick to learn, but the work is rewarding.

The shop sells standard bike designs, from mountain to road to tandems. Then there are speciality varieties, like unicycles and cruisers, which feature a 1950s styling complete with baskets, “balloon tires” and built in cup holders.

Tweet said the shop also offers bikes for rental, much the same way that R&F did for years.

Apart from bikes, the shop also sells exercise equipment and hot tubs. While the mix of products isn’t a typical one, Godfredson said it all ties together. He aims to give people good ways to stay in shape during the winter, and a means to relax after a hard work out. And with a 20,000 square foot building, it’s not hard to fit it all in.

The typical reaction customers give when they come in is “oh wow,” he said, and those customers tend to come from anywhere in a 100-mile radius.

Godfredson, who had never thought he would end up in the bike business, said running the shop has been “quite an interesting ride.” He still finds R&F stickers on old bikes that come in for repairs, signs of his father legacy in Austin that he now continues.

“It’s in my blood,” he said.

Tweet invites people who would like to reminisce on R&F to travel to Lakeshore Cyclery sometime to visit Godfredson and see photos and models of antique bikes.

Blooming Prairie

Two from Austin injured in Friday crash near Blooming Prairie

News

Minnesota lawmakers assert protections for public waters

Mower County

I-90 eastbound 4th, 6th Street ramps in Austin close May 31, Cedar River closes June 3

Mower County

Photos: Those who gave all honored on Memorial Day

Mower County

Honor those who served this Memorial Day

Education

‘Light the world on fire:’ Pacelli graduates the Class of 2024

Education

Signing ceremony a first step for students hoping to get into education

Education

Hook, line, and sinker – Lyle students made the best catch

Mower County

Austin Stormwater Resilience Plan – Open House slated for Tuesday

Mower County

Mueller awarded fellowship to attend leadership institute

Mower County

Nominations to open June 1 for APS Distinguished Alumni

Mower County

Great River Energy donates fire test hose station to Dexter Fire Department

Mower County

In Your Community: Austin Masons donated to area fire departments

Brownsdale

In Your Community: Brownsdale Study Club

Mower County

In Your Community: Duplicate Bridge

Education

Education Briefs:

News

National Guard joins search for 2 missing canoeists in BWCA

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Convictions: May 13-20

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Austin man charged with possessing child pornography

News

As Walz signs $30 million for rural EMS, providers worry it’s not enough

Education

SMEC graduates tell their own tales of success

Business

Company that owns Austin radio stations lays off on-air personalities, part of sweeping move

Mower County

Institute dedicated to moving forward despite missing out on bonding dollars

Mower County

Institute Community Outreach and Education manager receives grant to expand STEM education offerings