Grand Rapids bike store, outdoors store to offer alcohol, become place ‘where adventures are planned’

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Given the ongoing shortage of new and used inventory due to the pandemic, instead of throwing in the towel, the owners of a local bike shop and outdoor gear shop decided to create a place where adventure is planned. ”

In January, Switchback Gear Exchange opened a new, community-centric coffee shop selling local coffee and baked goods from a renovated section of the store at 2166 Plainfield Ave. NE are served.

But co-owners Ryan Olthouse and Rachel Posthumus didn’t stop there.

Within a month, the two plan to greet people in the former parking lot, which will soon become a beer garden serving a limited selection of beers, wines and seltzer with space for possibly up to 50 people.

“When COVID first appeared about a year ago, we had great uncertainties in the outdoor industry,” said Olthouse. “It was difficult. On paper this has had a dramatic impact on our sales. But it has allowed us to really focus on what makes this business healthy and what will do the most for our community.”

The exact date of the opening of the beer garden will be announced later on the Switchback Facebook page and on the Instagram page.

Olthouse wanted to make it clear that Switchback had no intention of being an open-air bar with late hours. He assumes that the beer garden will be open all year round with the help of heating.

“Our neighborhood and our community are important to us, so we don’t want to be super loud, super late at night or anything,” he said.

As with coffee and baked goods, Switchback plans to emphasize local alcohol offerings, according to Olthouse. Switchback sources its coffee from Aldea Coffee, which roasts its beans in West Michigan and has cafes in Grand Haven and Muskegon.

“We work hard with all of our coffee, all of our baked goods, and alcohol sales. We work hard for small, local minorities who are minority-owned,” he said. “We’re really trying to support some of the smaller businesses in town that we can, be it a brewery or baked goods or sandwiches to take away or something. That’s what we really want to focus on. “

The additions to the cafe and beer garden don’t mean Switchback will move away from fixing and selling bicycles and stopping on the way out of town to buy easily packable meals, cookware, contingency plans, insect repellant, and more.

Switchback continues to sell new and used bikes and outdoor items like camping and backpacking gear. However, the outdoor gear area has been downsized due to the addition of the coffee shop.

In 2022, Switchback plans to launch a high-end equipment rental program that will allow people to rent anything they need for a trip by backpack, bike, or even car.

“Ultimately, we want to be the place where adventures are planned,” said Olthouse. “We never want to lose sight of this mission to ensure equitable access to nature, and we feel we can achieve this through conversation, outreach, a hangout, and a good community center. That is our goal at this point. “

The switchback began in Marquette in 2010. The company moved to Grand Rapids and opened in 2014.

The Switchback Café is open 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day of the week, except it closes earlier at 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays

The store’s bike shop and outdoor gear are open Tuesday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. On Saturdays, the retail site is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The retail site is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

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