Imagine a place where the earthy tones of the great outdoors mingle with the gleaming gear of adventure. Where the air is rich with the smell of leather, the musky undertones of a well-trod trail, and the metallic tang of bike chains. A place filled with an endless passion for exploring the world around us. This haven, steeped in the love for the outdoors, isn't atop a ski slope in the mountains or along a trail in the desert, but right here in the heart of Mass Street.
For over five decades, Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop has been an integral part of Lawrence's historic downtown. What began as an Army-Navy surplus store in 1972 has evolved into one of the nation's leading outdoor outfitters, named among the nation's best bike shops by the National Bicycle Dealers Association. For a half century, the staff at this heartland gem has been serving the local community, fueling adventures and inspiring individuals to embrace the joy of the outdoors.
The humble roots of the shop have not prevented it from blossoming into a vibrant hub for outdoor enthusiasts. They offer a vast range of gear for climbing, kayaking, hiking, camping, and, of course, cycling. Aspiring adventurers can seek out the advice of the store's "nerds" —a term used endearingly for the knowledgeable staff who share the same outdoor enthusiasm as their customers do.
But the accolades and vast array of gear are only part of the story. What truly sets Sunflower apart is the belief that they're not just selling products—they're selling experiences.
“We love to hear that people bought their first bike here years ago, and that kicked off a passion for the outdoors,” says Sunflower's general manager and avid biker, Dan Hughes. “It means a lot to us to play that role in the lives of the people who come here.”
Beyond merely retailing equipment, the shop has embraced a larger role within the local community. They actively participate in bike rodeos, outdoor clinics, and film festivals, among other initiatives, promoting outdoor activity and environmental consciousness. Their commitment to the community and the environment is a testament to their continued success over the years.
Adding to its diverse offering, Sunflower recently expanded its services with the introduction of the Sunflower Wellness Studio, a new wellness destination in Lawrence. Whether you're an experienced yogi or someone looking to stay active and centered, the Sunflower Wellness Studio offers a range of classes that focus on building strength, increasing flexibility, and improving balance.
The studio, located on the second floor of the historic Sunflower building, is a recently renovated, expansive space with tall ceilings and original floor-to-ceiling windows. The space can accommodate up to 35 people, allowing for a communal yet spacious practice.
After a refreshing yoga session, visitors can stop by the Sunflower Cafe & Pub for a nourishing meal or a recovery shake. With a menu offering a variety of choices, including vegetarian and vegan options, and a curated selection of cocktails and local beers, the cafe adds another dimension to the Sunflower experience.
Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop's half-century journey is a testament to its enduring commitment to the Lawrence community and the outdoors. As the shop continues to grow and evolve, it remains a beacon for outdoor enthusiasts, encouraging everyone to explore, enjoy, and respect the great outdoors.