GREENVILLE — One of the area’s most popular stops for outdoor sporting gear and lawn care products will change hands Friday. Jack Nelson, owner of Nelson’s Speed Shop confirmed Tuesday that the rumors heard around town for the past several weeks, that the business is being sold to Lakeside Motor Sports, are indeed true.
Located at 4566 N. Greenville Road, Nelson’s has for 43 years marketed extensive lines of snowmobiles, boats, all terrain vehicles, lawn and garden equipment and more. The business’ annual “Sno-Motion” event was attended by sledders from across the state and was one of the area’s most popular outdoor activities.
Nelson said he understands the new owner, Ed Richter — who also owns Lakeside Motor Sports in Mecosta — will continue hosting Sno-Motion in the future.
According to Heather Lang, who works at the store, the new owner plans very few changes for the store.
“As far as we know, everything’s going to be the same,” Lang said. “It’s just new ownership.”
That will undoubtedly come as good news to the thousands of customers who have frequented Nelson’s during the past four-plus decades. According to Nelson, some customers have been coming to the store so long they’re as much family as friends.
“We’ve had some customers who keep coming back over the years and they start to seem like family,” Nelson said. “It’s amazing. I’ll be in the store and I’ll see customers that bought John Deere’s from us 25 years ago. I’ll talk with them and we reminisce. Some remember when we first started out. It’s a good feeling … priceless.”
Nelson’s relationship with recreational vehicles goes back even longer than he’s owned the store. In his younger days, he brought home more than his share of trophies and awards for snowmobiling.
“I enjoyed the racing part of it a lot when I was younger,” Nelson said. “I set a couple world records and won several championships. I did a little bit of all of it and had a lot of fun along the way.”
Nelson added he feels fortunate to have been able to turn his love of snowmobiling into a successful business. When he started out 43 years ago, he really didn’t expect the business to grow as quickly, or as large, as it has.
It hasn’t always been easy, however; a September 2001 fire, set by arsonists, destroyed the store and most of its inventory. The arsonists were later arrested and convicted. Fortunately, the store was insured and Nelson rebuilt and was open for business a year later.
More than a decade later, in June 2012, the store was again decimated by fire, the cause of which is still under investigation.
Nelson rebuilt from the ground up a second time and the store again reopened in May 2013.
“We’ve been through a lot,” Nelson admitted. “We’ve come from the ashes two times; it’s been a tough road. We lost a lot of memories and pictures, things we can’t replace, in those fires. Overall, though, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve put in a lot of hours here, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
Nelson added he hasn’t really come up with any sort of “bucket list” to occupy himself once he’s fully retired. He’s already traveled much of the world while attending dealer meetings in Japan, Europe and Hawaii. He plans to spend more time with his wife, Gale, and maybe use the motor coach they had for a while.
He said he’ll miss the store, but thinks it’s time to move on with the rest of his life and just take one day at a time.
“You have only so much time on this planet,” Nelson said. “You have to enjoy life while you can. It’s nice to know my wife and I can pick up and go at a moment’s notice without being tied down. I’m looking forward to having some time to enjoy. Maybe golf and putter around a little bit day to day.
“My friends say I’ll get bored awful fast, but I think the puttering will keep me busy.”
New store owner Ed Richter, speaking through his daughter, Danielle Maneke, declined to comment about his plans for the store, saying they would release more information once all the paperwork was signed and the sale finalized.