Sarah Muller, Nicole Miller and Robert Donnelly
Business Horizons Media reporters
RAGBRAI, Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is an eight-day event where the riders will endure tough hills and difficult turns after months of training.
However, the bike ride doesn’t only affect the riders and those who support it. Participants stay overnight and ride through various cities and towns. Many come to view the great spectacle and tend to stay in those locations to enjoy festivities.
On Thursday, July 25, the cyclists will make their way through the little Dutch town of Pella.
“We are very excited for RAGBRAI. We have redone our windows, done sidewalk sales; we have samples and things inside for people to try. We are just planning on being a great host,” said Lorie Melhus, 54, owner of The Silver Lining.
“We marked down a lot of shoes and put them on the sale rack. We are really hoping to get lots of business,” said Matthew Strey, 21, an employee of Brown’s Shoe Store.
Other businesses aren’t changing tactics to draw in customers.
“We haven’t done a whole lot different, just double checking that everything is ready to go,” said Kelly Heerema, 44, owner of Hallmark.
Some businesses decided to use the same ideas they came up with during Tulip Time, the three-day community celebration in May.
Kristi Balk owner of the Jaarsma Bakery on the town square said workers there are bringing in extra help to manage the amount of people they are predicting and this is very similar to Tulip Time. Balk said the riders won’t buy items in quantities, but mainly one item at a time.
The original Smokey Row will have more staff on hand, employee Aaron Corbin said. It has set up a stand to make it convenient for cyclers to buy coffee, pastries, ice cream, and iced drinks such as coffee, and tea.
The Brew Coffee House is doing many of the same thing, preparing with extra stock, more staff and a new cooler.
All stores around the Central Square are preparing for the grand event of July, and, stands are setting up as well.
“I’m from the Peace Lutheran Church and we will be selling fish tacos. We will also have almond bars and beverages. We are making a variation of the taco and in a sense ‘Dutch-ifying’ the Dutch fish taco and put in set spices and seasonings that are similar to the Dutch culture rather than the Mexican culture,” said Kay Kinkle, 55, a representative of Peace Lutheran church.
While cyclists prepare to bike through the tiny town of tulips, businesses and tourists are anxiously awaiting their arrival.
Folks from Pella, such as long-time local Sunny Jones, are looking forward to the visit from RAGBRAI, too. Sunny compared the RAGBRAI stop to Tulip Time, a local tradition that began in 1935.