When the four owners of Chisholm's 30West Fitness & Recreation opened their gym in 2019, they wanted to expand their business to include more recreational activities. When they heard the Redhead Mountain Bike Park at the Minnesota Discovery Center got the green light to open, they knew this created a perfect opportunity for 30West to offer bike rentals.
“As a fitness and recreation company, this is huge for us," co-owner Candice Sjogren said. "There's nowhere in the town of Chisholm that has a bike shop or offers rentals or anything like that, so this could be a great opportunity for us to grow our business on the recreation side and also support what was happening here with the mountain bike trails.”
Candice's husband, Joel Sjogren, discovered his love for mountain biking in Idaho during college. To obtain bike rental insurance, a trained mechanic must be doing regular maintenance. When they couldn't find anyone available locally, Joel and a 30West intern went to the Barnett Bicycle Institute in Colorado to take classes about assembly and fleet maintenance in February 2020.
“We were a few days away from buying an entire rental fleet — tens of thousands of dollars — and then the country shut down and we said, ‘Eh, let’s not spend this money now,” Joel Sjogren said.
Instead, the Sjogrens and fellow owners Nick and Jen Gigliotti took their gym's space and converted it to a makeshift bike repair shop. While their gym was forced to close in March 2020 for the statewide COVID-19 shutdown, bike shops were deemed essential services and could stay open.
With the extra time the pandemic gave them, the Gigliottis and Sjogrens were able to take a step back and envision the space they intended to create for the bike shop. They also spent the pandemic getting outside and familiarizing themselves with the trails.
“Being closed as a business is not a good thing, so that was really hard, but it caused us to think outside the box and be creative,” Candice Sjogren said.
They signed a partnership agreement with the Minnesota Discovery Center at the beginning of this year. Joel, Nick and their fathers spent the next few months renovating their storefront and shop, which used to be a storage closet near the Discovery Center's entrance. Now, they offer bike repairs and gear as well as advice for visitors about the trails. They currently have one bike available to rent, and will add 13 more to their fleet in July.
Candice and Jen said they plan to target much of their guidance toward beginners because most people in the area have little to no experience mountain biking — including them. Until last summer, Joel was the only owner with any experience.
The 30West owners have already seen community support. They've had a steady stream of people coming in for bike repairs since they started offering the service last March, and have had support from the Chisholm community all along the way.
“We really believe it’s got to be a local thing," Nick Gigliotti said. "As much as we want people to come from the Twin Cities and Duluth to rent bikes, we want the culture to sustain here and we want the trail to be something that’s great for our community. If that happens, we feel like the people will come and that will make our business run.”
The Redhead Mountain Bike Park opened 15 miles of trails last summer in the former Glen and Leonard-Burt mine pits, and will open an additional 10 miles Saturday. A weekend of events, which can be found at mndiscoverycenter.com, will be held in celebration of the park's grand opening. The trailhead and 30West bike shop are both located at 1005 Discovery Drive in Chisholm. 30West's bike shop is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.