Positive Connections: Hutchinson man’s wheels keep turning, celebrates 57 years in near century-old bicycle business

Positive Connections

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – Nearly 100 years later and the wheels at Harley’s Bicycles in Hutchinson are still spinning.

“Our business actually started in 1922, so this is about our 99th year in business,” said owner Bob Updegraff.

Updegraff hadn’t even graced the earth when the original shop opened, but some might say he was born to take it over. He was introduced to the business at a young age.

Bob Updegraff, Harley’s Bicycles owner

“I lived pretty close. It was just a nice place to hang around and it was fun,” he said. “It just became almost an everyday activity to hop in and have a soda or a candy bar or something and then one thing led to another.”

Updegraff was just 14 years old in 1964 when he started working at the shop. Fifty-seven years later and he hasn’t left.

“Everybody almost envied you that you were able to work there at that time from a peer group standpoint, it worked out really really well,” Updegraff said. “Everything panned out really great and son of a gun it just kind of stuck.”

The Hutchinson native bought the store in 1995. Since then, he’s put every ounce of himself into serving his fellow Kansans.

“It’s pretty unusual I am not here — according to my wife, I am here way too much,” he laughed.
“I tell people all the time it’s my job and my business, but it is also my hobby, so it’s what I do — if I am not here I feel a little left out.”

Bob Updegraff helps young bicyclist.

Harley’s Bicycles is one of the oldest and best-known bicycle stores in Kansas. For more than a decade, it has been recognized as one of the top 100 bicycle dealers in the United States by Bicycle Dealer Showcase magazine.

“The business was well established when I got it. There’s no question about that and the Phillips family did a great job and had good insight going forward,” Updegraff said.

Through the years Updegraff has expanded the business, doubling its square footage and adding key merchandise including apparel and home fitness equipment. He even hired his daughter who is a certified optician.

“I think we might be the only bike store in the country that does prescription eyewear as well as regular sunglass eyewear and that has been a successful part for us as well,” he explained.

No matter how much the business has changed, Updegraff said the mission and the service department have remained constant.

“You want customers to come in and be comfortable, you want them to be aware of the fact that you have been here for 99 years total in the community — one of the oldest businesses in Hutchinson, I think,” Updegraff said. “At the same time, you want them to be assured that we are going to have what they want when they want it,” he added.

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