Spokes to offer bikes, ice cream in St. Boni

Justin Ratzlaff and his mother, Michelle Ratzlaff, operate Spokes Bike and Ice Cream Shop in St. Bonifacius. The ice cream shop is tentatively set to open on the weekend of May 4 and the bike shop will have a grand opening on Saturday, June 1. (Patriot photo by Todd Moen)

Justin Ratzlaff and his mother, Michelle Ratzlaff, operate Spokes Bike and Ice Cream Shop in St. Bonifacius. The ice cream shop is tentatively set to open on the weekend of May 4 and the bike shop will have a grand opening on Saturday, June 1. (Patriot photo by Todd Moen)

If you love bicycles and ice cream, you’re going to love a new business that’s opening in St. Bonifacius.

Spokes Bike and Ice Cream Shop is owned and operated by Ben and Michelle Ratzlaff of Mayer, along with their son, Justin. Michelle is operating the ice cream side of the business while Justin is in charge of the bike shop. The ice cream business is tentatively set to open the weekend of May 4 (hours TBD) and operate seasonally from May to October. The bike shop, which will be open year round, will have its grand opening on Saturday, June 1.

The business is located at 8850 Glacier Road in St. Bonifacius in the old Wash Depot building, which is owned by the Ratzlaffs. Wash Depot was open from February 2002 to July 2011. Michelle explained that the business closed because it couldn’t compete with the Holiday and Kwik Trip stores that have opened in St. Bonifacius.

The origin of Spokes Bike and Ice Cream Shop began with a business plan idea that Justin created for an entrepreneurship class in college. Justin is currently a senior at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He is pursuing a chemistry major and a secondary education minor and plans to graduate in May.

“My professor was impressed with my business plan and told me I should pursue it,” said Justin, a 2009 graduate of Waconia High School who really got into biking after high school. He took an apprenticeship to learn how to fix bikes and that experience, along with the business plan he created for the class, led to Spokes.

“I thought about putting the store in Waconia but with my family owning the building and the (Dakota Rail Trail) right there, it made sense to open in St. Boni,” he said. The Dakota Rail Trail cuts through St. Boni only a block or two from Spokes and the Ratzlaffs are hoping to become a destination stop for trail users.

“We want to cater to the trail,” Justin said. “People can grab a snack, take a break, get their bike fixed.”

The ice cream shop will offer malts, shakes, ice cream cones  and will feature Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream from Madison, Wis. Michelle explained that the ice cream is considered to be a “super premium ice cream” based on its rate of butterfat content.

“I wanted to find a specialty,” Michelle said. “I didn’t want to compete with the gas stations by selling the same Snickers ice cream bars you can get there. Our goal is on Saturday and Sunday mornings to be open at 8 a.m. and serve coffee and muffins so bikers have some place to go.”

As for the bike shop, it will be a full bike shop with clothing, helmets, accessories and other items, including, of course, bikes, such as Focus bikes, Yuba cargo bikes, and Marin bikes. Justin will offer all types of repair service for all bike brands from tune ups to major repairs. Eventually, he hopes to offer bike rentals for trail users.

Justin also wants to give back to the community and is planning to share some of the shop’s profits with local non-profit efforts, such as go4thesummit. Justin is also interested in promoting mountain biking as a club sport at the high school level.
The Ratzlaffs are looking forward to opening Spokes Bike and Ice Cream Shop this summer. The shop was open for a trial run of sorts for few months last year, an experience that helped Justin receive the Erdman Award, an honor bestowed to full-time students at Luther College who run a business during school.
“It went really well,” Justin said of being open last year. “The neighborhood was very supportive and people are spreading the word. We hope to see people come out to our grand opening on June 1.”
The slogan for Spokes Bike and Ice Cream Shop is “Where Biking is our Passion, Not just our Job.” To learn more, visit www.spokesmn.com or contact (952) 446-1666.

Contact Todd Moen at todd.moen@ecm-inc.com

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