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Our Founder / Our Future

Mesabi Recreation was founded by Michael Priest in 1979.

Michael Priest started Mesabi Sailboats out of the family’s garage in Fayal Township, south of Eveleth in 1979 after a turn in the mining industry found him looking for an alternative career.  Within a few years, he opened up a shop next to Bailey’s Lake in Virginia in the old depot. Several years later, he moved the business to 4th Ave in a small grey, two-story building that had a cool sub-basement beneath the normal basement to house his growing inventory of bikes and his collection of vintage bikes. This building later became a barber shop and has since been torn down. In 1985, Mike moved Mesabi Sailboats and Recreation onto the corner of 8th Street and 11th Ave, a couple blocks from the mall. For a little more than a decade, he outfitted enthusiasts with sailboats, bikes, windsurfers, skis, curling equipment, skateboards, snowboards, snowshoes, and all the apparel and accessories to enjoy their favorite sports, including patio furniture to enjoy your own back yard. Around 1997, he again moved Mesabi Recreation, purchasing the former L&M Fleet Supply building on the northside of town. This larger space allowed him to expand into selling boat lifts and docks, canoes and kayaks, and when Highway 53 was undergoing construction north of Virginia, an opportunity to purchase the Froelingsdorf Pool and Spa business and so he spent many a summer’s day building and installing above-ground pools, opening and closing pools, and maintaining proper PH balances – even enlisting his children, Sarah and David in the process. For over 42 years, Mike opened the doors of Mesabi Rec nearly everyday to greet customers and friends, to repair and sell bikes, to tune and sell skis, and to help “Make Dreams Come True!”. Hundreds of employees assisted Mike in the endeavor over the years and thousands of locals and tourists alike have been great customers. While on a week’s vacation from the store in mid-December 2022, visiting his wife Cathy and daughter Sarah who were remote-working from a 2nd home in Bozeman, MT, near his son David and grandchildren Alexa, Savannah, and Weston, Mike suffered an unrecoverable cardiac event.  As family, we seek comfort knowing that Dad spent the week doing his favorite things including shopping at his favorite thrift, antique, and sports stores, skiing three times up at Big Sky, one of which was a special trip with his granddaughters, attending holiday concerts of the kids, having family dinners, visiting Montana breweries, and listening to live music. Mike was 77 and was generally quite healthy and had been regularly seeing a doctor. May his life be a testament to living life large and always doing was you enjoy!

Today, Mesabi Recreation carries on Mike’s legacy, headed by his daughter Sarah, and deeply supported by his long-time staff Scott Dahlquist. Together with a few other employees, we plan to strengthen our bike shop, offering high quality products and service, and also keep people active in our long, wonderful winters with cross-country skis and snowshoes. We’ll be eliminating our pools and spa products in 2023 and sadly can’t assist with services any longer. We have some retro apparel, footwear, used bikes, and other specialty items that we’ve deeply discounted to help with freshening up the space and focusing our business. We have a coffee pot now and a hot water kettle with tea and cocoa and some snacks that we invite you enjoy. Some building improvements – interior and exterior – have occurred with more planned. We invite your comments, suggestions, and assistance in being a friendly, helpful, and welcoming place you like to visit, shop and get your service needs met.

We Thank You for your patronage through the years and look forward to your return!

Sincerely, Sarah and Scott

Sarah, posing with some inventory.
Scott, taking a selfie on a recent group ride.