Local business offers fun way to explore Rugby
I Design and Wild Minds Studio have launched a creative and healthful way to explore Rugby.
Daunne Heilman, owner of the two businesses, has placed a rack of bicycles just outside of her building, inviting visitors to rent one for a ride.
The small rack has only a few bikes parked in it for now, but Heilman has more inside the store.
“Once people catch on, I think it will be fun,” Heilman said.
Heilman said the concept started when she and Rugby Chamber of Commerce and CVB Director Laurie Odden “were working on a brochure for the city and went, ‘people come here for a day trip, or their kids come down to visit. We have visitors who are here for family, or just passing through or making a quick trip. So, how perfect if you’ve got your grandkids here and they want to go on a bike ride and you don’t have a bike?'”
“That was one of the initial plans,” Heilman explained. “Grandmas are always coming in here and looking for things to do with their grandkids – activities. We thought, ‘that would be kind of cool if we could (offer) bikes.'”
Heilman said she thought of people like her, who lived outside of town. “I live out on a farm,” she said, noting farmers often live far from paved roads and bikes don’t ride well on gravel.
“By the time you haul your bike in ride into town, it’s kind of a pain. You can’t ride with your friends and it’s really hard on the bike to throw it in and out of a pickup,” Heilman said.
“Kids can rent them, too,” Heilman said.
Heilman added, “People can use them to ride home, too, if they went to the bar and had too much to drink.”
Cost for the one-day rentals ranges between $10 and $20. Renters are required to sign a simple agreement assuming responsibility for any damage. They must return their bike by 10 a.m. the next day.
“Most all of them have been donated,” Heilman said of the bikes. “I’ve bought a couple of them for like $50. Earlier this summer, I had a bike mechanic come down from Grand Forks.”
Heilman said after she talked with the mechanic, she asked if he could make trips to Rugby to help local bike owners “because I discovered there is no one in Rugby that fixes bikes.”
Heilman said she started collecting names for a list of people who need bike repairs. Heilman said she hopes to arrange for the mechanic to come to town twice a year in the future.
“He’s a cool guy. We enjoyed hanging out with him. He fixed a bike that didn’t have a brake on one side for one lady, then he worked on bikes for higher-end bike enthusiasts and they were impressed,” Heilman said.
“We’re going to add license plates to the bikes that tell who donated the bike,” Heilman said of her collection. “Then, when you go on the website, you’ll see a little story about that person and that bike.”
Although simple bikes sit outside the store for rental, a couple of more complicated bikes for serious cyclists are available inside, Heilman said.
“We’ve had some serious bike riders in here,” Heilman added.
A few locals and tourists have already rented the bikes. Mikah Meyer, a blogger for Travel North Dakota “was impressed with the bikes,” Heilman said. “He said they rode really well and thought the Rugby bike path was amazing. We have a pretty cool map, too, that you can follow and he liked that.”
Heilman said she plans to add stories to the bikes featured on the rental website “just to have a personal connection to the whole thing.”
Wild Minds Studio’s Facebook page has a link for the bike rentals, an easy process, according to Heilman.
“We have the helmets and all the safety stuff for the bikes, too,” she added.
On the website, renters choose the bike they want and sign an agreement to return the bike by 10 a.m. the next day in the same condition it was when they rented it.
“Then, the nicest option is, if you want to rent them at night or when we’re not open, you can go onto our website and click ‘bike rental,'” Heilman said. “It’ll email you a code and that code will unlock the bike. So, it’s immediate satisfaction.”
“So far, everyone’s been good about it and the community supports it,” Heilman said of the bike rental service. “Even the kids have rented them and they’ve always come back nice and I’ve had no complaints.”
Heilman said local businesses also help keep the bikes in good shape.
“Harper Oil has fixed our tires for us and delivered the bikes to us. Hardware Hank sells parts to fix bikes, too.”
Heilman said the help she received from local businesses impressed her.
“When Harper Oil delivered that bike with the fixed tires to us, I was like, ‘Wow, this is why I like living in a small town!'”
“Everyone’s been super nice,” she added. “Harper Oil doesn’t usually (make deliveries), but they’ve taken it on for us, which was super nice.”
“The whole community has embraced it,” Heilman said of the bike rental business. “They’re donating bikes. Laurie Odden donated a bike and we’re going to put a sticker on it that says ‘Brad’s Towing.'”
Heilman said she has future plans to offer a tour map highlighted with local points of interest with every rental. She also hopes to offer coupons for discounts on such items as ice cream at Rockin’ Relics Cafe and other specialties available in downtown Rugby. She’s also exploring the possibility of ice skate rentals for the winter.
Heilman said she hoped to weld a larger bike rack, using her creativity, of course.
“I’m looking for an art piece to make that will hold a bike,” she added with a smile.
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