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First Gear in Old Town to have new owner

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, at 7:33 a.m.

A quarter of a century after opening First Gear, Gary Gregory is selling the Old Town business.

“I have the absolute best job in the world. I really do,” he says of selling sport shoes and apparel. “I’m just ready to do something different.”

Greg Reed of GW Investments, a communications company, is buying the business, which is at 111 N. Mosley. He’ll be partners with Raquel Stucky, who currently works there.

“She’s really the one that has a lot of experience in the business,” Reed says.

Reed says he likes the business and the industry and feels “like there’s a lot of opportunity there.”

“I’m sure we’ll make some changes,” he says. However, all of the things customers have come to love at First Gear, “we’re going to continue to do.”

Gregory opened First Gear on North Rock Road in 1988 and moved to Old Town seven years later.

He says it was a difficult decision to move, but business doubled within the first year.

“I wasn’t getting west-side shoppers on Rock Road,” he says.

When he moved, he kept most of his east-side business and gained the west side as well.

“It turned out to be a very good move for us to be down here.”

So why is he selling?

“That’s a simple question that has a complicated answer,” Gregory says. “The bottom line is because it’s been 25 years, and I am ready to move on.”

He’s not sure what he’ll do next.

“In the short term, I’m just going to relax,” he says. “Being a business owner, you are always there even when you’re not there physically. You’re there mentally. I’m ready for the mental break more than anything.”

Gregory says he’ll now have more time for running, not to mention swimming, golfing and biking.

“I actually do have a little personal goal … to try to get really fit,” he says. “I don’t have time as an excuse anymore.”

What’s up, Doc?

It looked like some critics of Doc Howard’s might get their wish to have the bar close.

The Old Town bar shut down this week because its liquor license expired Dec. 10.

“Yeah, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that will be excited,” says owner Bryan Shapiro.

The situation is only temporary, though.

The city won’t renew the license until Shapiro gets a fire door for an opening at the bar, which has frequently been in the news due to fights and other disturbances in and around the business.

Shapiro says it’s taking a while to get the door.

“We weren’t prepared for it because we’ve never been asked for it before,” he says. “Ten years, 10 inspections, nobody mentions the door. Now they mention the door?”

Doc Howard’s has been in business almost three years, but Shapiro has had a bar of some sort in the space for a decade.

“It is what it is, and we do everything we can to comply,” he says. “I don’t think we have an operational issue here.”

People are the issue, Shapiro says.

“They come downtown, they drink, they get silly,” he says. “It’s unfair to say we have more problems than anybody else. The mall has more problems than anybody else. Are we really talking about shutting the mall down?”

Shapiro says the bar’s capacity for 1,500 people and its proximity to parking, which other businesses also use, contribute to the amount of activity in his part of Old Town.

It’s not clear when Doc Howard’s will reopen, but Shapiro says it should be soon.

He says Doc’s critics shouldn’t be so quick to wish the bar would close permanently.

“They need to remember if I go, somebody is going to take my place. People are not going to stop coming downtown.”

You don’t say

“I want them removed.”

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers partner Scott Redler’ s teasing reaction at a party Thursday when a guest wondered where he got the custard for the Tumbleweeds he was making

Carrie Rengers first reported these items on her blog. Be among the first to get her business scoops at blogs.kansas.com/haveyouheard.

Got a hot tip or a quirky story? Call Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or e-mail crengers@wichitaeagle.com.

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