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Behind The Wheel City Goes Into Business At Park’s Bicycle Rental Shop

Alex Hines and his girlfriend enjoyed their first-ever ride on a tandem bicycle in the Riverfront Park sunshine, even if they did tip over turning a corner.

“It’s a way to sightsee around the park and get some good exercise at the same time,” said Hines, 21, of Coeur d’Alene.

Their ride in the park never might have happened if the city hadn’t bought Quinn’s Wheel Rentals & Sales last year when it appeared destined for closure.

City Council members had a hard time approving the deal because the trend in government is in the opposite direction - toward privatization. But with then owner Greg Yost planning to close Riverfront Park’s bike shop and sell his inventory, the council decided it was more important to have the service available to the public.

“It’s a great service to have at the park,” said John Edwards, Quinn’s manager. “It provides baby strollers, rollerblades for the adventurous, surreys for a family day in the park. It’s another opportunity to get out and be active.”

When some people opposed the idea of the city running a business, Spokane Park Board President Dennis Hession responded, “The IMAX theater is a business.”

Yost sold all the bikes and the shop for $35,000 - half of which the city will pay this year, the other half next year.

The Quinn’s name remains a gift of sorts from Yost. He named the rental shop after his first-born son.

A relatively cold June kept business slow, but traffic picked up during Hoopfest last weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, the shop took in about $1,500, double what it had been making on previous weekends.

Holidays and weekends are the busiest times, Edwards said. He is working on ways to improve business on weekdays by offering specials and package deals for motels and youth groups.

City officials say the priority is not to make money but to provide a service, yet prices recently were raised a couple of bucks on some of the more popular bikes to help increase inventory.

When Yost was running Quinn’s, he was breaking even. Because the city will save on various costs, such as insurance and taxes, projections are that it should make no less than a $10,000 profit per year.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo