In 1931 Grady Faulk sold his bicycle and appliance store in Corsicana and came to Tyler to open a bicycle shop. At that time Grady felt that the economy in Corsicana was going to follow the "Great Depression" and judged Tyler to be a good choice for a business due to the East Texas oil boom. He located an excellent location at 105 South Broadway and rented a small storefront. Three months after he opened the entire block of buildings was gutted by a fire which started in an adjacent cleaning and pressing business.
Grady was determined to make the business a success and expanded to three of the renovated storefronts. The name was "Grady's Bicycle Shop - Texas Largest Bicycle Store." Within a year Grady had three salesmen-mechanics working in the store. The cycle shop offered Schwinn and Colombia bicycles, the finest quality equipment available at the time. This quality line of high performance bicycles contrasted sharply with the cheaply built models offered by Sears, Wards, Firestone and Western Auto in much the same way the cycling ware sold by Target and Wal-Mart is today. During the early years Murphy the Jeweler was the only other business in Tyler offering quality bicycles for retail sale.
After about eight years at the original location Grady was forced to relocate due to construction of the now defunct Tyler Theater at the 105 S. Broadway site. The College Street location chosen proved to be a mistake and landed the business in bankruptcy along with the tennis court facility also owned by Grady Faulk. Thanks to the help of his friends Grady was the successful bidder for the tennis courts sold in bankruptcy and opened a small cycle shop in the clubhouse at that location on Glenwood Boulevard. In those days bankruptcy gave one a "bad name" and Grady was eventually able to pay back all of the creditors.
After selling the tennis courts and clubhouse Grady moved the bicycle business to his expanded garage on Fenton Street in the early 1950's. At that time he limited the line of bicycles to Schwinn and England's Raleigh Light Weight. The shop also had a franchise for "Solex", a French motorbike that sold for $125.00. The machine was an instant success and sold well until the police and a lawyer got into the act. Seems there was some controversy about the need for a license to operate on the streets of Tyler and all of the riders were under-age to get a license. In 1953 Grady's eyesight began to fail and Grady Jr. left the teaching profession to become a partner in the business. In 1955 Billy Quick became a third partner and the business moved to Bergfeld Center. Later in 1955 the Faulks sold their share of the store to 0. R. Cooper, Jr. and eventually the business became Billy's Bike and Boat Corral.
Even today, Grady Jr. still has people relating to him about their first bike being purchased from "Mr. Grady." Many were sold on credit to a kid who otherwise could not afford a bicycle. Some had jobs using their bicycles to earn moneymaking deliveries for businesses such as drug stores, Western Union and Postal Telegraph. Grady Jr. recalled a trip to Chicago to attend a national bicycle dealers convention and a trip through the Arnold-Schwinn Factory. At the convention he was asked to help judge a rebuilt bicycle contest. At the time he wondered why they had not shipped one of Grady Sr's. rebuilt bicycles to be judged since he did not see any to compare with those in Tyler. Grady Jr. said, "Daddy could build bicycle wheels coming and going." One memory Grady Jr. has of being in the business was trying to ride a sidecar-equipped bicycle. He stated that this was the "hardest cycling" one could imagine. A right turn was almost impossible and the left turn was sure to tip you over.
Cycling in Tyler has been alive and well for a long time. Remember, when in doubt, ride your bicycle.
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