OWOSSO — The House of Wheels bike shop in Westown is up for sale after being under the care of owner Rick Morris for 50 years.
“I decided to sell the store and we already have some interested people,” Morris said.
The bike shop, which celebrated its 50th year of operation this year, is listed by Keller Williams Realty in Lansing. In 1972, when he was 16 years old, Morris started The House of Wheels with his dad.
Morris said he thinks his dad was tired of his job, where he worked as a boss at State Farm Insurance. During that time, the “bike boom” happened when everyone was riding bikes around town.
“I was always fixing people’s bikes back then,” Morris said. “We’d get a few bikes in the garage here and there to fix and I think he was tired of other peoples’ junk in our garage. So he borrowed $5,000 from my grandpa and we started the store.”
The present-day stories made up of two buildings Morris and his dad merged by knocking out an adjoining wall. Originally, they rented one of the buildings until the other, which was a dry cleaners, went out of business. After buying the first building, the one they rented also went up for sale and they bought it, too.
Now 66, Morris is ready to retire.
“I’ll probably hate not being at work since that’s what I do every day, all day,” he said. “I’m not against working a couple days a week because I still love coming to work every day.”
For years now, Morris has worked six days a week.
“I don’t have to be married to my job anymore if I don’t want to be,” he said. “It’s time for somebody younger to take the reins.”
When posed with the question of what he would do with his free time, he did not have an immediate answer.
“I don’t know, maybe ride a bike instead of fixing (it),” he said with a chuckle. “My wife would probably like me to mow the lawn since she stays home and mows it all the time.”
All jokes aside, Morris said he wants to take time to enjoy life and maybe do something different for a while. He and his wife still plan to ride their bikes, but perhaps now they will ride a little further than they normally do. They plan to stay in the area because they love Owosso, and so they can stay near family and friends.
All summer long, people came into the store asking Morris if the rumors were true that The House of Wheels was going out of business.
“It drove me nuts because I don’t know where that came from, but no, we’re not going out of business,” he said.
Regardless of whether or not the new owner is native to the area, Morris hopes to find someone to sell the business to who likes bikes and the community as much as he does.
“We are always a giving store,” Morris said. “We still give to Angels Helping Hands every time we get used bikes; we fix them up and give them to her to give away.”
Store manager Josh Meadows grew up in Lennon and has worked for Morris for five years.
“I came here when I was a kid; I’ve known Rick my whole life pretty much,” Meadows said. “I was a bike mechanic in Florida, I moved up here and Rick asked me if I wanted a job, so here I am.”
Meadows said he would like to stay working at The House of Wheels after Morris retires.
“It’s a pretty unique business that we do,” Meadows said. “It’s kind of a labor of love sometimes. We get a lot of special needs people that, you know, we work on their bikes at little or no charge just to keep them rolling.”
Meadows hopes the new owner similarly embraces the community by embodying the same generous mentality.
“Whoever takes the place over has to understand that Owosso’s a big biking community — you got to do what you can to keep them rolling — we try to help out,” he said.
Joelle McGuire has been a customer at The House of Wheels a couple of times over the years for bike repairs. Her most recent visit was Friday when she picked up her adult son’s repaired bike that he had not ridden in a while.
“We’re giving it to his friend and it needed to be made road-worthy,” McGuire said. “I thought of House of Wheels to kind of check it all out, and it needed brakes and gears and a good check-up.”
McGuire said they were gifting the bike to a friend who could not afford one, but wanted to ensure it was safe for her. She thought the repairs would not be completed until Thanksgiving, but to her pleasant surprise, it was finished two days after she dropped it off.
Morris said he appreciates the community’s trust in his family as business people.
“(I) just appreciate everything they gave back to us; Hopefully we gave them as much as they gave back to us,” he said.
Morris is not sure when the store will sell, so while waiting for offers he is continuing to run the business as he normally would to make sure there is enough inventory for the spring.
“In our industry, you have to buy next year’s stuff right now,” Morris said.