Skip to main content

Store History

Store History

The North Central Cyclery store has been the location of a bicycle and sporting good shop in DeKalb, IL for 81 years.  Since 1934, the store has changed hands and had bicycles as it's primary product, but not exclusive to cycling.  Bicyle brands carried in the shops varied over the years, and even during one owner's tenure.  The Paul family is the 6th family to own the store and purchased it on October 29, 2015.The family is dedicated to developing the store from not only a bicycle store, but to a full line cycling, outdoor activity and multisport store.  The history is rich, and some timeline information has been gathered from previous owners.  (special thank you to Kathy Lockard for the research and information)

Time Line:

   1934 - 1943       East End Bike and Sports Shop  Owner: Carl Pearson.

Carl was born in Sweden in 1905 and served in Swedish military. He learned to be a gunsmith in the Swedish Army before he came to the US when he was 18. He settled in the Woodstock or Crystal Lake area and stayed with relatives who were farmers. Carl opened the shop in his 30's.  It was called East End Bike and Sport Shop when Carl started it.  Inventory was said to be about 80% guns, 20% bikes.  The store has often been called Swede’s bike shop, however, this was never the recorded name of the store. Store location was directly across the street for first year, then moved to the present location after that. 

   1943 – 1969    Tommy’s Bike and Sport Shop  Owner: Tommy Hayes 

Tommy kept the store when Carl Pearson went to war.  When Carl came home from the war, he wanted to buy a tavern (on south side just down from the current Chamber of Commerce – 2nd and Lincoln Highway) and sold the shop to Tommy.  Tommy was born in 1921; he and Pearl were married in 1940.  He was born in Kentucky and moved to DeKalb when he was a baby. The shop was rebuilt in the same location in 1956 – same year as the centennial and was part of the east end urban renewal.  Urban renewal in DeKalb forced the tear down of many businesses. The new Post Office was built much later in the 70’s. 

Inventory – had everything in the sporting world... Bikes, baby strollers, guns, amo, fishing poles and gear, motorized bikes and scooters, little kid pedal cars, baseball equipment, skates (figure and hockey), tennis (Wilson – rackets and balls) , golf.  Also had clothes – golf and baseball shoes and spikes, Pendelton blazers (women) and shirts.  If Tommy saw something interesting that was remotely sport related – he carried it. The store also sold hunting licenses, with the busy November rush making Tommy bring in 10-12 extra staff for the standing room only patrons.

The store had an apartment over the shop – football team lived there.  New shop had two apartments – family in front, 10 college girls in the back.  Girls had to sign in and out with Tommy – if they were late, he called the NIU dean of students to report them. 

Tommy began to have failing health in 1968 and eventually sold the business only (not building) to Wally Thorow in 1969.  He eventually sold the building to the owner of the Shabbona Gun Shop.

   1969 – 1980    Wally’s Cyclery and Sports    Owner:  Wally Thorow 

Wally, continuing the tradition of Tommy's, carried a few items of sporting goods--some fishing gear, a badminton set or two, even a .410 shotgun.  Wally had invested pretty heavily in mopeds, tiny motorcycles with 50 cc engines and a top speed of 30 mph. Unfortunately, the market for them disappeared about as soon as it began. Wally also had run BMX events at the BobJo racetrack east of Sycamore.  Wally is well known in Sycamore, IL.  Back in 1956, Wally Thurow, who is known as Sycamore’s "Mr. Pumpkin", began what was to become the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival when he displayed a few decorated pumpkins on his front lawn to turn Halloween into a time of fun and creativity. In 1962, through the efforts of Mr. Pumpkin and the Sycamore Lions Club, the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival became an official celebration in Sycamore.    There is reports that Wally had a weekly radio show at WLBK, loved promoting Pumpkin Fest, did the BMX thing at Bob-Jo, and may have hosted at least one bike tour in Europe. Wally sold the store to Morgan Groves in 1980, accepting payment over time, with Morgan working as the general manager and Wally's manager staying on staff to assist with managing the store and transition as well. 

   1980 – 1985    DeKalb Schwinn    Owner:  Morgan Groves

Morgan purchased the store from Wally in 1980, after the gradual transition.  Morgan initially attempted to maintain the current inventory and services Wally's Cyclery had. Unfortunately, the market for them disappeared about as son as it began, and a stock of 7 mopeds sat for over a year.  When Morgan's insurance man informed him how much he was paying to keep gasoline and motor vehicles in the shop, they were removed from the store as quickly as he could.   The business eventually became limited to mostly bicycles, although brands were not limited to Schwinn.  Morgan experimented with at least a dozen different companies.

During the days that Morgan owned the shop, the Scwhinn factory in Chicago was still open, and ran a weeklong mechanic's school.  Morgan attended it before managing the shop for Wally, and his mechanics were sent whenever able.  From 1980 to 1986 sponsored bicycle time trials during the summers.

Morgn's son participated in bicycle racing in college and managed to attract a fair number of racing cyclings to DeKalb Schwinn, and the store sold a number of higher end racing bikes. The store was also involved in the Race Across America team of Tom Knearzor (Rochelle, IL) donating the support vehicle.  In 1982/83 Morgan and the store was also involved with selling the bicycles, equiptment/accessories, and assisted in training of local triathletes, including Sycamore attorney Rick Turner, who competed in Ironman Hawaii.

In 1986, after some failed attempts to find a business partner, Morgan sold the business to Glenn Widstrup.

     1985 –     DeKalb Schwinn    Owner:  Glenn Widstrup

     1994 - 2015        North Central Cyclery    Owner:  Frank Hegaard

   (Still gathering owner history info...updates once obtained)