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Tennessee retailer to close shop, retire

Published February 22, 2012

MARYVILLE, TN (BRAIN) Feb 23 MT—After 39 years in the industry, Mountain View Bicycles owner Thom Thaldorf is closing his family-focused shop and retiring at the end of March.

An avid cyclist, Thaldorf got his start in cycling retail while attending graduate school in 1973, as the Mideast oil crisis pumped up demand for bikes as alternative transportation. He first worked in sales and simple repairs such as flats, but soon graduated to assemblies and more complex repairs.

Thaldorf worked part time in shops for six years before starting his own repair business. He opened his first storefront in 1985, and launched Mountain View Bicycles in Maryville, Tennessee in 1995.

“I’ve been a one-person shop for all of that time since the early ’80s. My wife would occasionally work in the summers and weekends. I’ll be 67 this year, and I was ready to do some daytime cycling and other activities. It will be so great to go for a ride and not wonder whether I’ve charged my light battery,” Thaldorf said.

He’s also looking forward to doing longer bike trips with wife MaryAnne aboard their 1980 Jack Taylor tandem. Thaldorf has his eye on Colorado, Wyoming and, later, maybe a cycling trip along the Mediterranean when MaryAnne is on summer vacation from her school district.

During the school year, Thaldorf plans to get out more often on his 1969 Mercian Vigorelli track fixie and, for longer rides out of town, his geared Velo Orange steel lugged road bike. He also wants to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and other nonprofits and step up his woodworking hobby.

With a popular greenway system nearby, Mountain View Bicycles focuses on comfort, hybrid and kids’ bikes for casual recreational biking, along with a bit of specialty mountain and road business. “We’ve always encouraged that family aspect of cycling,” Thaldorf said.

He is first to admit his business has never embraced technology. When a retailer called asking if he’d like to sell his point-of-sale system, Thaldorf informed him that he still used a receipt book and cash box. The shop also has no website.

“I think if I were 15 years younger and staying in the industry, I’d have to change my evil ways and get a little more tech-savvy,” he said. “But for right now, I’m looking to get back to some retro riding.”

—Toby Hill

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