A very cool bike shop is now open in Manchester
While watching the team at work inside the Sharon Valley Bicycle Shoppe, it’s clear they know about bikes and care about their customers.
The Sun Times News paid a visit to the shop this past week to get a firsthand look at this business that opened up earlier this year in downtown Manchester.
During the visit, co-owner Mike Vedejs was working on Rick McVay’s bike. In the way he handled and talked about the bike, it was obvious Vedejs takes great care in his job.
McVay, who is from Tecumseh, testified to this.
“Friendly and knowledgeable,” McVay described the team at the Sharon Valley Bicycle Shoppe, which in addition to selling bikes, is also a repair shop that offers a full range of mechanical services, from a simple flat tire repair/replacement to a tune-up, total overhaul or custom build.
The shop is filled with bikes on sale, ranging from those for younger riders to those for older ones, along with some unique ones, such as the colorful bikes that are made in Detroit.
The shop is very cool as you walk around and see they also sell a wide variety of accessories and some biking clothing.
There’s something for everyone in the shop.
“You know you are in good hands,” McVay said as Vedejs finished up and walked his bike over to him.
The other co-owner is Vedejs’ sister, Christina (Christi) Mersereau, who said the origin of the shop goes back to a walk on a snowy day.
“It’s sort of a long story how it came about, but it all started at Christmastime in 2020, almost a year into the COVID pandemic,” she said.
Her brother was visiting his family.
At the time, Mersereau
had been off work for about two months and was applying for jobs, and her brother was also in a “transitional” phase.
“We all enjoy hiking in the woods and one morning we were out tromping in the snow in the field and woods next to our house,” she said looking back. “Somehow we got talking about the job situation and Jacques ( her husband) asked Mike, ‘what do you really want to do, if you could do whatever you want?’ Mike said that he had always wanted to own his own bike shop, having always worked for someone else.”
Her husband, she said, “piped up that he had seen a building for sale on Main Street that would be ‘perfect’ for that.”
“We tossed the idea around for a bit and casually went to look at the building, not so much seriously, but as something to do,” she said. “The building really was perfect, so, just for fun, we called the owners to ask about the price. Much to our surprise, it wasn’t outrageous, and suddenly the wheels started turning, and as things began to fall into place, they turned faster and faster.”
She said that whole time period was a blur, from the end of December to the end of January.
“We researched the industry, the area, nearby communities, local bike shops etc. and wrote a business plan,” said Mersereau. “We explored financing options and examined our personal resources, and as we believed in the venture more and more, we searched deep in our souls about whether we wanted to take on such an enormous project and challenge. Then it just took on a life of its own!”
They decided to pitch the idea to their family, because as Mersereau put it, “they needed financial help and other support in order to pull it off.”
She said there was quite a bit of push back at first, because there were some pretty serious facts to consider: the economic problems the country was facing, the COVID pandemic, their respective ages, the commitments they already had, “and just the overall difficulty of starting and running a business.”
“But with the three of us as a team, with our interlacing and complimentary skill sets and life experiences, we just knew we could do this,” she said. “So it took persistence, confidence and lots of persuasion, but in the end we were able to convince our stepmom, Pat, and uncle, Art, to invest in the project. With their help we were able to buy the building and get the business off the ground. It was an incredible undertaking, but we closed on the building at the end of January and were officially underway!”
The shop is dedicated to their family, Pat Anderson, Ed Vedejs (deceased), Art Vedejs, Melita Vedejs and Jacques Mersereau.
Her brother has a long, varied, and successful career in the repair industry with over 45 years of experience repairing and fabricating mechanical and electrical systems on cars, trucks, outdoor power equipment, power boats, electronics and appliances as well as bicycles. He has worked professionally as a Master Bicycle Repair Technician for over 10 years and is well-known in the Madison, Wisconsin biking community.
He’s an avid cyclist himself.
She also has an interesting background and set of skills to bring to this unique shop.
In looking over the “About” section on their website, it says Mersereau has been self-employed for most of her life after graduating from the University of Michigan, which she attended on a swimming scholarship. She was a Big Ten individual and team champion, an All-American and a member of the U.S. Swimming National Team.
Later on in life, she obtained a second college degree in Health Administration at age 50. She’s also experienced in digital media and marketing, with over 35 years on the job.
She helps guide the business and finance side of things at the shop, and is also an avid bike rider.
The Sun Times News asked her what the community should know about them and the shop.
“We believe that rural America and small towns need their own bike stores!” she said.
In expanding on that answer, she said, “It’s a totally different lifestyle and the needs are different from what you find in the cities. Our focus is much more on families and the ‘average Joe’ than on expensive, fancy road bikes and super high-end equipment for super-serious riders. The people around here seem to want to get out and exercise moderately, ride on the dirt roads in the area, or tool around in town or on their own property. Sure, there are serious riders who come through or live nearby, but the vast majority of people are like us: “regular folks who just enjoy being outside and having a decent ride.” It’s important because America is overweight and many, many people have chronic health problems due to being overweight and/or not getting enough exercise. We want to be part of the solution to very serious problems. Plus, biking is fun and good for the soul and psyche. It makes people happy, and happiness spreads like an oil slick! It’s good for everyone, and that’s good for the community.”
They said they’ve been welcomed to the community and want to thank the people of Manchester and nearby communities.
“Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming!” Mersereau said. “We couldn’t have received a nicer reception. So much positivity and we have met some wonderful people.”
For those interested in seeing the shop firsthand, it’s located at 108 E. Main Street in Manchester. If you have a bike need, they said just bring it in. They can be reached at 734-396-7001.
The shop is open: Wednesday and Thursday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed on Monday and Tuesday.