The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Bikes to You wins Outstanding Retail Experience Award

Photo by Ellen Schoenmaker

By Graham Dodd

Bikes to You, a Grinnell staple, was recently recognized by the Iowa Tourism Office and the Travel Federation of Iowa, receiving an Outstanding Retail Experience award. The S&B’s Graham Dodd met with Bikes to You co-owner Craig Cooper to talk about how the awards would affect the future of his store, as well as tourism trends in Grinnell.

Photo by Ellen Schoenmaker
Photo by Ellen Schoenmaker


The S&B: Could you talk about the award you recently received from the Iowa Department of Tourism?


Craig Cooper: We received the Iowa Tourism Award for small retail experience. My recollection is that was the retail experience for towns with a population under 10,000.


The S&B: How do you think that fits into the larger development of tourism in the city of Grinnell?


CC: One of the things I’d like to talk about first is that Emily Counts, who formerly worked with the Council, and Rachael Kinnick have been instrumental in making sure Grinnell is on the map, so to speak when it comes to submitting businesses and destinations for awards like this, and I am honored that they chose our store. Emily recently wrote the nomination both for Faulconer and for us, and Rachael kind of oversaw that, and then it was obviously up to the judges to decide, but at least they put us in the mix. On top of that, I think Bikes to You feels like we have a destination retail store. We are fortunate that we are located first of all in Grinnell, which has the College and provides a portion of our sales revenue, and we are also proud to be one of the 10 official RAGBRAI bicycle shops. By being a part of that we get a lot of statewide and, quite honestly, national exposure for being associated with that. Between those two things, I think that is how we got where we are.


The S&B: How do you think Bikes for You will affect tourism in Grinnell in the future?


CC: I hope that we can play a key role in attracting people to come to Grinnell. Grinnell has, for lack of a better word, kind of accidentally become what’s referred to in the state of Iowa as the de facto gravel bicycle capital of the state. We have a lot of gravel roads around Grinnell that are conducive to bicycle riding. They are good farm-to-market roads that are challenging to ride and attract [bikers] to come here for that. In addition, we have Rock Creek Trail and we have Rock Creek Lake and some other things as well. But if we are going to hang our hat a little bit on that tourism thing, then gravel riding will be a part of that. There is what is kind of the granddaddy of all gravel rides called the Trans Iowa, which occurs in April. I don’t have anything to do with the organization of that, but for the last seven years they have chosen Grinnell as the starting and ending point of that 300 mile gravel road ride. So we get a fair amount of traffic based on that. Of course, we provide rental bikes for folks that want to do gravel riding. We have parents that come in and rent bikes, and some of them choose to do the gravel riding. So that is how I see our business playing a role in tourism within Grinnell, Iowa.


The S&B: As you know, the Faulconer Gallery won another award from the Iowa Tourism department. Have you ever been there?


CC: I have! Absolutely, I should go more often too, knowing what a gem it is only three blocks away from us. I’ve been to several shows over there. I went to a fascinating architecture show a few years ago. As often as not, we hear people say, “Oh, we are in town for the Faulconer show, what’s going on?”


The S&B: Do you have any closing remarks?


CC: I feel that Grinnell is a great place to be right now. With all of the effort of the Chamber and the City and the College, I don’t want to leave the College out, because they are making a substantial investment, we are destined not only to be a great place to be, but we are destined to be a premier place to be in the Midwest. You can just kind of feel it. Every once in a while in life, things gel, and you can feel that we are just on the verge of being a superstar.


Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *