Taking over the shop

Photo by Don Lipps - Shop Manager Charley Serril, owner Jenna Rinehart, and customer Larry Buller. Nicollet Bike Shop - Mankato, MN
Photo by Don Lipps – Shop Manager Charley Serril, owner Jenna Rinehart, and customer Larry Buller. Nicollet Bike Shop – Mankato, MN

“I started working at the Nicollet Bike Shop in 1998,” Justin said. “I worked part time for the original owners through high school and college. I then worked full time for them for three years after I graduated from MSU. Jenna and I purchased the shop in the fall of 2010.”

“This is quite the change from our old location in Nicollet,” Jenna remembered. “We didn’t have running water out there. It was basically a shed in the middle of the country. All of our bikes were in garages, so we’d have to pull them out every day.”

The transition to becoming business owners had a few bumps.

“In November, the first weekend we were open after we bought the shop, there was a big snow storm,” Jenna said.

“We lived in Mankato, so we barely got out there the roads were so bad. When we got there, there was no power! We hung out for a while but were thinking this is not such a good way to start a business! We knew no one was going to show up that day so we decided to go home.”


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Daily Shop Routine

Who does what when it comes to running the shop?

“It depends on who you ask,” said Justin. “If you ask the staff, Jenna’s the boss because she writes the paychecks. I have trouble arguing with that!”

“I’ve done every role in the bike shop. I’m pretty decent at being a salesman and mechanic. But I’m not as great our staff, of course!”

“We joke that we don’t know what Justin does here at the shop,” Jenna added. “He takes care of all the behind the scenes stuff that people don’t even realize needs to happen. It’s an ongoing joke, ‘What exactly do you do here?’”

“I like to say I’m the glue that holds it all together. Without it nothing would happen, but it’s never appreciated,” he said, chuckling.

“I do all the HR stuff, payroll, bill paying,” Jenna said. “We both do marketing. I do most of the store merchandising. Justin does a lot of the advertising. But on busy days in the spring we’re both all over the floor and anywhere that needs help.”

“I’ve done every role in the bike shop. I’m pretty decent at being a salesman and mechanic,” Justin said. “But I’m not as great our staff, of course!”

Photo by Don Lipps - Shop Manager, Charley Serril, assembling a new bike at Nicollet Bike Shop in Mankato
Photo by Don Lipps – Shop Manager, Charley Serril, assembling a new bike at Nicollet Bike Shop in Mankato

Mankato on Purpose

Both Jenna and Justin are life-long Mankato residents with little desire to be anywhere else.

“We’ve both had the opportunity to travel all over the country and ride and race our bikes. The Mankato area is honestly the best spot we’ve ever visited that on average has really good everything,” Justin said.

“We don’t have mountains, but we have great river valleys with some vertical change. We don’t have oceans, but we have lots of lakes and miles and miles of rivers. We don’t have the shopping of a major metro, but we have most everything you need to live a good life. Winter is a challenge, but it also provides opportunity. We have a ski area in our community. How awesome is that!”

And Most Importantly

“The most important thing is the people and our interactions with them,” Jenna offered. “Our employees make our business. Work is work, but we want it to be fun too so that people want to come hang out here.

“Of course, it’s all about the customers. We really like to get to know our customers. We create events and give them a place to hang out or a reason to ride. We’ll help them achieve something they’re training for or just help them get into the sport.

“We really like to get to know our customers. We create events and give them a place to hang out or a reason to ride.”

“A couple of weeks ago we had seven crock pots of chili in the shop ready for us after a ride. It’s not just about riding,” Jenna said. “We want to create a welcoming environment to build this community and create friendships.”

“Getting people into riding and being able to share our passion with them is the best part,” Justin said. “Cycling is such an inclusive healthy life long activity that it never gets old helping others enjoy the activity that we all love so much.

“We believe that it is our responsibility to help build the best riding community possible so that no matter how you like to ride a bike you have a safe and enjoyable place to do so.”

Jenna and Justin Rinehart can be found daily at the Nicollet Bike Shop at 607 N Riverfront Drive in Mankato. Or join them for one of the many regular shop-sponsored rides.

Additional Links

Nicollet Bike Shop on Facebook
Nicollet Bike Shop on MankatoLIFE

Author

  • Don Lipps

    is a long-time resident of Mankato and North Mankato. He's been doing web development almost as long as there has been a web.

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