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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Letsche's celebrates 40 years in business

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In 1969, Charlie Letsche decided to open a shop in Cherokee to fix and sell bicycles, and opened his shop in a small building where the Cherokee Laundromat is now located. It was a small business, and occupied only one- half of the building, with a Gulf gas station occupying the other half.

Jack, Tom, and Charlie Letsche represent three generations of bicycle enthusiasts in Cherokee. Photo contributed.
It wasn't too long before Charlie moved his business to another location, at 505 W. Elm St., the current location of Ron's Repair. The business was starting to boom, and in 1976, Charlie built a store at the Southside shopping center on Highway 59 South. Letsche's shared the lot at the time with several other businesses, including Randall's Food Store, Gibson's, and Lee's Hardware.

In 1978, Letsche's purchased the Radio Shack line from Holzhauer Motors, and added consumer electronics to their business. Both sides of the business continued to do well, and in 1993, Charlie's son Tom returned to the business, following his graduation from the University of Iowa and four years working at another bike shop in the Twin Cities.

With an ever-increasing line of consumer electronics products, Letsche's found they needed more space, and so it was that they moved to their fourth location, becoming a "Main Street business" for the first time when they moved into their current location at 215 W. Main St.

Customers at Letsche's receive prompt customer service from employees like Rich Hinkhouse (at counter). Photo by Dan Whitney
Letsche's now has enough room to display their line of products - bicycles of all kinds as well as bike supplies and accessories, not to mention the continuing boom of consumer electronics products - television sets, DVD/CD players, cell phones, and many more. Plus, they have room in the back of the large building to do bike repair.

Charlie Letsche completely retired a couple of years ago from the business he started in 1969, leaving it in the very capable hands of his son Tom. In 40 years the store has gone from a little bike shop with a single employee in 1969 to a large bicycle shop and consumer electronics store with 12 employees today.

Letsche's is one of 10 official RAGBRAI shops in Iowa, supplying official RAGBAI clothing. Tom estimates that he rode on the RAGBRAI ride "maybe six times" in his younger days, and continues to follow RAGBRAI every year now, providing needed services to bikers.

Letsche's has been a family business from the start, and Tom, his wife Amy, and their children Jack, Elisabeth, Heidi and Julia, are all avid bikers and involved in the business in one way or another.

In honor of their 40th anniversary, Letsche's Bike Shop will host the Chamber of Commerce Coffee this Friday, October 9, at 9:30 a.m., and they will also be running a variety of specials throughout the day.

Come on down and see a real Cherokee Success Story - Letsche's Bike Shop and Radio Shack.

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