Main Street Grant Stories: Anderson Wheelchair

58 years. 

That’s how long Anderson Wheelchair, 1117 Second St SW, has provided mobility to residents and visitors to Med City.

The shop sells, rents, customizes, and services mobility products. Best known for skillful wheelchair customization, their staff works with everything from hospital beds and lifts to walkers and scooters. Though ultimately of a personal, mechanical nature, the work requires coordination with a network of therapists, doctors, insurers, and customers to get a mobility solution just right. 

In the last 15 years, their software has logged over 20,000 people served, but in terms of total people helped during the company’s lifespan:

“It’s almost impossible to put a number on that question,” says Drew Anderson, part-owner of the business with his brother and their father, Jay, who has run the business for the last 30 years.  

“It’s a third-generation, family business,” says Anderson. “Grandpa and Grandma started the business out of their garage 58 years ago. Since then, last 30-plus years, my dad has taken over and run it along with my uncle who helped out. Now my brother and I are the third generation.”

The business has grown alongside the family. In January of 2023, Anderson Wheelchairs started work with architects and contractors on the next-door six-apartment complex they’d acquired. The goal: join the new space to their old one to increase capacity for both product inventory and customization workspace. 

“That allowed us to stock more inventory, which allows us to help more people,” says Anderson. “In a sense, it can be compared to a bike shop; the same bike is not meant for every person. Having more inventory on hand is helpful for us in our community,” says Anderson.

Anderson Wheelchair was awarded $88,548 through DMC’s Main Streets Grants program to help with the remodel of the interior and facade.

“We redid our entire facade. Instead of having two separate facades, there’s now one conjoined, uniform look between the building we’ve operated out of for the last 40 or 50 years to our new building,” says Anderson.

The expansion has allowed them to hire one new employee so far; a search for a maintenance technician and people to work on internal sales and customer service continues. Aside from COVID-19 and its attendant lockdowns and closures of public spaces, Anderson says that’s been the biggest challenge his business has faced since 2020: finding new employees.

“During COVID, the Mayo Clinic basically shutting down was a challenge, as people stopped coming, people stopped going out. So that was a challenge. But everybody knows that wasn’t easy on any business.,” says Anderson. “We are back to normal in terms of just about every aspect of the business.”

The visitor-friendly nature of their shop’s location means they won’t have trouble dealing with an increased customer base, either. 

“Every business that’s located down here does have parking, even a small business like us, we have at least 15 parking spots in the back of our office. Or whether it’s Caribou Coffee or The Canadian Honker… just about every business in the downtown district does have parking,” says Anderson.