“Retirement was damn short,” laughs Fred van den Bulk, owner of the Muskoka Bicycle Pro Shop with his wife Caroline.
The pair have returned to their Main Street store after their plans to sell it and spend some time travelling fell through. It’s a good thing, insists Fred. “These things sometimes happen. I still love what I’m doing.”
Fans of the shop will notice some changes this spring. The store has been reconfigured so that it has a more open feel, the wood floors have been redone, and they’ve added some new inventory. The result is the same great service and selection local cyclists, runners and swimmers have come to expect, with more options to choose from.
There are bicycle-themed gifts, a huge selection of kids’ bikes, and a throw-back to the 80s with stylish Electra cruiser bikes. “They aren’t just nice looking, they’re really comfortable to ride,” says Fred. The popular Slow Down in Muskoka signs are back after selling out last year. And for the watersport crowd, they’ve added locally-made Muskoka surfboards and clothing, and stand-up paddleboards.
For the do-it-yourselfers out there, the Pro Shop is running bike maintenance courses again, but they’ll still fix anything on wheels aided by store staff Dale Wenger and Dan Wilson. “We’ve got dirty hands still, and we love it,” said Fred, who has been wrenching for 40 years now.
Fred and Caroline stress the importance of using a reputable bike shop for maintenance and repairs, and the benefits of having consistent service and check-ups. “We can ensure your bike is always performing at its best, and give you expert advice on getting the most out of your rides no matter what kind of riding you do,” says Fred.
The store treats its customers like family, knowing the first names of many who walk through the door and offering perks for returning customers. That friendly atmosphere is a large part of the shop’s success, and since taking it over in 1998 they’ve seen steadily increasing interest in active outdoor sports.
“The community has always supported us – we really appreciate that and we are committed to supporting our community, too,” said Fred. “We are going to continue to provide them with the best service and the biggest selection in Muskoka, and we’re going to keep having fun doing it. Life is awesome.”
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