Mundelein bike shop owner is moving on – but the shop and his name will remain
A Mundelein bike shop will live on despite the impending departure of its namesake owner.
Ray Ladewig, founder and operator of Ray’s Bike & Mower, 612 E. Hawley St., announced this summer that he was selling the 11-year-old store and moving to Michigan.
The shop was purchased by Lakemoor area resident Keith Gerstung. He will continue to operate under his longtime moniker.
“I’m delighted to see this continue,” said Ladewig, who has lived in Mundelein most of his life and ran for mayor in 2017.
Gerstung, who is new to the bicycle and small motor retail industry, took over on Sept. 1 and is enjoying the work — and meeting Ray’s many regular customers.
“The people are great,” he said. “They are very, very nice.”
Ladewig, 61, started the business after losing his job at a metal stamping company during the Great Recession. He always liked bicycles and small motors and started repairing them at home.
“I started in my garage, just to see if it was worth doing,” Ladewig recalls. “It just took off.”
He quickly moved into space on Hawley and has been servicing and selling bikes, lawn mowers, snow blowers and other equipment there ever since.
The business thrived earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, Ladewig said. Bike shops were considered essential to the economy as many people needed them to get around.
Now, however, new models and parts are hard to come by due to manufacturing shortages. A large rack near the front of the store that should be filled with new bikes is empty.
Ladewig, however, did not sell the store because of the pandemic. He has long had a fondness for Michigan, and his daughter, Maddie, is a senior at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
So he and his wife, Natalie, move there.
“I never thought about moving. I grew up here,” Ladewig said. “But you know what? You don’t have to end here.
Rather than opening Ray’s Northeast, Ladewig expects to return to work in the metal stamping industry.
“They’re begging people to come back to work,” he said.
In a Facebook post, Ladewig expressed her affection for her customers.
“We loved owning and operating Ray’s Bike & Mower and certainly couldn’t have experienced the magic without the great customers and friends of the company,” said Ladewig. “We will definitely miss (and) cherish the memories made here.”
Gerstung came to Ray after some time as a maintenance worker with Wauconda Unit School District 118. He has worked in engines for a long time, including as a U.S. Navy and in the automotive industry.
“Every job is a new challenge,” said Gerstung, 57. “And no job is exactly the same.”
Although Gerstung said he will likely change the store’s name one day, it will remain at Ray’s for the foreseeable future.
“I don’t want to alienate the customers. They’re used to this place,” he said. “And that’s fine with me. I don’t have a big ego.”