One longstanding downtown North East business is now under new ownership.
Bill VanVolkenburg officially took over as owner of Lake Country Bike, 21 E. Main St., in March. He has been working at the shop since 2003.
The business was previously owned by Dave and Ruth Dennis. The couple purchased the former Schriefer’s Bike Rack in 1992 and renamed it Lake Country Bike.
VanVolkenburg said after 16 years at Lake Country Bike, he is excited to take on the challenge.
He added that it’s especially nice to be a business owner in his hometown.
“I’ve always been a small-town guy,” VanVolkenburg said. “I was born and raised here in North East. I know this will be a good opportunity.”
After working with the Dennises for so long, VanVolkenburg said he’s formed quite a bond with them and is thankful for the opportunity to take over the legacy they started.
“Ruth and Dave have always treated me like family,” he said. “They don’t have any kids of their own, but have always treated me like a son. They’re great people.”
Lake Country Bike specializes in the sale of new and used bikes, repairs and cycling tours.
The business hosts several cycling tours around North East and the local wine country each year. The shop’s annual Bike Wine Country event brings nearly 500 people to North East every year.
“Promoting cycling is a major part of the business,” VanVolkenburg said. “Dave is still going to help with some of our annual tours.”
The bike shop is also a certified UPS shipping outlet.
“A lot of people don’t realize that our shop is also a UPS shipping site so they can drop their packages off here,” VanVolkenburg said.
After owning the shop for just over a month, VanVolkenburg said he’s started to think about making some minor changes.
“Everyone who comes in is asking what I’m going to change,” he said. “I’m actually not planning on changing much. I might just do a few things to modernize the business some.”
VanVolkenburg added that he has no plans to change the bike shop’s name.
Even without the Dennises around full time, VanVolkenburg will still have help from John Bink — Lake Country Bike’s other longtime employee. Bink has been with the business 11 years.
“We’re actually just starting to get busy,” VanVolkenburg said. “The weather is starting to get nice and everyone’s eager to get their bikes ready.
“This cool thing about this shop is that we see generations of riders from the same families,” he added. “Someone will get a bike here, and then bring their kids and grandkids here for bikes, too. They all want to ride together.”
VanVolkenburg added he’s also excited about a new project Lake Country Bike is partnering up on.
“We’re going to be working with Clymer native Ken Bestine to build handcycles for the disabled,” he said. “These handcycles are impressive. People can bike for miles just powering the bike with their hands.”
Lake Country Bike is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.