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Kansas' Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop adds 'launch and landing pad' in redesign

Published October 30, 2020

LAWRENCE, Kan. (BRAIN) — Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop, a nearly 50-year-old retailer in downtown Lawrence, has added a cafe that offers coffee, beer and snacks, as part of store redesign that adds more space for customers to socialize — while maintaining some social distance.

“I know that every adventure I undertake usually starts with a good cup of coffee and ends with re-telling the story over a beer afterwards. That’s the idea behind this addition to our core businesses down here at the shop,” said Sunflower co-owner Dan Hughes. “Between the two buildings at 802 and 804 Massachusetts Street, we’ve got close to 21,000 square feet of floor space, so squeezing in a coffee shop shouldn’t be too hard.”  

The store moved part of service department into a new space in the basement, while keeping a service-writing position on the main floor. It also moved the hardgoods for the outdoor shop from the second floor to the first.

The new cafe is on the first floor, and a spacious seating area is upstairs. Sunflower added a spacious seating area upstairs.

"In a COVID world we felt it was a priority to open that space (upstairs) up so folks can spread out and be safe from a distance perspective. We’re fortunate to have a lot of space to use and it was getting tough to do retail on the second floor," Hughes told BRAIN.

Sunflower co-owner Karla Hughes said, “I feel like we’ve been having these conversations for years: folks coming in, leaning on the counter, and telling their tales of outdoor excitement. This just gives them a dedicated place to do it. We love being part of their adventures and stoke.”

The café offers grab & go food as well as sandwiches, soups, and salads, alongside coffee roasted by Repetition Coffee of Lawrence, and beer from Free State Brewery. 

"The place has already been found by the outdoor and student population," Dan Hughes said. “The future of downtown Lawrence is rooted in experience-based businesses and while we’ve been selling experiences for years, this hybrid retail concept gives us the opportunity to continue to evolve the shop."

Hughes did confess a little disappointment that the redesign required the removal of his five Race The Sun awards from the Dirty Kanza 200. "Dammit, I worked hard for those!" he said. In place of the awards, the store put up TV screens to show bike races and other features. 

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