(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- About a year ago, Michael Comstock visited what was then Freshour Cycle in Sikeston to buy his son a skateboard. He ended up buying the store.
"That was one expensive skateboard," Comstock laughed.
The visit actually came at an opportune time. Then-owner Jerry Freshour was ready to retire, even if it meant just closing the shop for good. And Comstock, who knew Freshour since he was a child, was working in construction at the time and "wanted something different."
That's just what he got. Now, a year, later, Comstock has helped the business, which offers bicycles, skateboards and all the accessories, grow and expand, as well as increase sales and get more involved in the community.
With a lot of serious riders in the area, and Comstock Cycle, the only big shop between Cape Girardeau and Memphis, Tenn., keeps busy and attracts customers from all over.
One thing Comstock has done is expand the stock and offer even more top-
quality bicycles. "They're a No. 1, Class A bike," Comstock described. "We carry any kind of bike that you would want."
Lines he carries include Nerve Bike, of which he is the only dealer in Missouri. "So, every one that you get is kind of exclusive," said Comstock.
He also sells Diamond Back, Red Line and Haro, as well as KHS, a leading road bike. Comstock said what he specialized in are the single-speed bikes with pedal brakes. "They're old-style, but new bikes," he said.
Comstock said with new trails being constructed around the area, in addition to people being more health-conscious, biking has picked up as an activity. "There are more people starting to get into it," he said.
Biking, as opposed to walking or running for exercise, is better for a person's knees. "You're rotating the muscles instead of pounding them," said Comstock. "It's a lot better on you."
College students also come in to purchase bikes -- some of which can be folded up for easy storage, said Comstock. In addition to those who ride for exercise and enjoyment, there are customers who have begun to bicycle to work due to rising gas prices.
Spring through back-to-school is the busiest time of year at the store, Comstock has learned, so he will increase his stock soon.
But for those who still don't find what they're looking for, Comstock said they can look through catalogs or Web sites to find what best suits their interests and needs. "We can order," he said.
Prices for the bikes range from $150 to $6,000. But, Comstock said, he is willing to negotiate prices with customers. "It's like a car lot," he said. And in December, he added financing opportunities for customers, too.
Skateboards also generate a lot of sales at Comstock Cycle, which carries most major brands. "Just about any kind that you can think of, I can get," he said.
A new service that will be available within the next week or so are personalized skateboards -- where skaters can build their entire board with special rip tape -- used on the top of a skateboard for embellishment -- and all the other needed accessories.
"Kids like to customize their skateboards," he said.
Repair services are offered at the store too -- for bicycles and skateboards sold there and by other retailers, said Comstock. He noted that he only uses quality parts, so it may be a bit pricey for some less expensive bikes. "But, (customers) are upgrading their bikes, too," Comstock said.
Comstock also gets involved in the community, by sponsoring events such as skate-offs for children at the New Madrid Skate Park -- and he plans to offer some in Sikeston once the local park is complete. For bikers, he also helps sponsor one of the bike rides in East Prairie's Tour de Corn.
"Those are fun things," he said. "I just like to help out the town and the people and have fun."
Comstock Cycle is located at 816 S. Main in Sikeston. Business hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, the phone number is 471-3543.