Governor Walz stay-at-home directive indicated that bike shops are essential and would remain open. Andy Boe, the owner of Straight River Sports in Owatonna agrees, "Bicycles will always be needed." He said the Friday before stay-at-home went into effect was a busy day at the shop for him. Saturday, March 30, which turned into a rainy day, was not so busy.

In order to observe good social distance practices, Straight River Sports has enacted several temporary changes. Their website asks for a "limit of 10 people in the store, including staff, maintain a six-foot personal space whenever possible, enhanced cleaning protocols, if you are sick, please stay home."

Boe said the store hours will remain the same so to not squeeze the time people can access his business. Monday through Friday the store at 222 Bridge Street is open 10 am - 6 pm. Saturday's hours are 9 am - 4 pm. They are closed Sunday. He says he has fielded numerous phone calls from people curious if the store was open.

The Star Tribune reported an increase in business at shops they checked with, notably for kids' bikes and hybrids. Boe says e-bikes are building in popularity. Riders still pedal but get an assist from an electric motor. He says they are a great way to get more people out on the trails. They are still classified as bikes and are allowed on all bike paths.

The Tribune quotes Dorian Grilley of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, "People still need to get around, and they may have no other choice than to get on a bike." Boe says this time of year is busy with people getting repairs and tune-ups.

He stressed that riders should be even more careful on their bikes now, saying a trip to the hospital with an injury would be a terrible time to tie up medical professionals. Always wear a helmet.

Their website says, "Straight River Sports' has been a part of the Owatonna community for years and is now in its third generation of ownership. Andy and Mattie Boe took over the reins at the start of 2020 and hope to continue serving the needs of cyclists, hockey players, and other sports enthusiasts. Andy grew up in Owatonna and graduated from OHS in 2003..." (read more)