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Sunday, 01 July 2012 23:09

Cycle shop capitalizes on serving urban rider

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Cycle shop capitalizes on serving urban rider PHOTO: Joe Boomgaard
GRAND RAPIDS — With gas prices rising and an increasingly large number of people living and working in cities, Nate Phelps says he found a great opportunity to realize his lifelong dream of owning a bike shop in Grand Rapids. 

Opened in March, Central District Cyclery is located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids on Monroe Center in the space previously occupied by City Market. The retail store specializes in selling and servicing bicycles geared toward the urban rider, such as road and urban commuter bikes.

Additionally, Central District Cyclery offers rental bikes for tourists and does custom bike builds with components from specialty manufacturers such as Surly Bikes, Linus Bikes, Traitor Cycles and Grand Rapids-based 616 Fabrications. While the shop does focus on road and urban bikes, its service arm is fully capable of servicing all types of bikes, including mountain bikes and cruisers.

The opening of Central District Cyclery signified the culmination of 10 years of work and planning by Phelps, the shop's owner. Phelps financed the opening of the shop with his personal savings, without taking out any loans or bringing partners on board.

"I'm personally invested in this project and have no partners," Phelps said. "I had the money, so I did it."

The bicycle industry sold $6 billion in bikes and equipment in 2010, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association. In 2010, the Bicycle Manufacturers Association estimated bicycle sales at 19.8 million units.

Phelps sees Central District Cyclery's target market as being typical urban bicyclists who use their bike for commuting to and from work as well as running errands. With that consumer in mind, his shop stocks bikes that can handle the rigors of downtown riding and are effective on city streets.

The service department is likewise geared toward the urban rider with fast turnarounds on repair, tune-ups, seasonal overhauls and wheel builds and wheel truing as just some of the offerings. Spring tune-ups run for $45, with other services costing a variable amount.

Thanks to its central location on Monroe Center, Central District Cyclery is uniquely placed to serve the commuter biker who is looking for walk-in service without having to truck his or her bike to and from a shop, Phelps said.

"After a series of fits and starts, I found this location and realized it was a perfect location for the shop," Phelps said. "What Grand Rapids needed was a downtown, urban shop."

Phelps doesn't worry about the initial novelty of the shop wearing off. When asked whether he sees the encouraging numbers as just the regular opening "bump" that many new retail companies feel, Phelps replied with an unequivocal no.

"Because a good portion of our sales is in repair and rental, I feel it'll grow with time," Phelps said. "We're continuing to have good numbers of tourism rentals and walk-in service, and as more and more people realize we're here, it will continue to grow."

Central District Cyclery's rental business is built around tourists who are looking for bikes for getting around town. Rates start at $35 for a half-day with pick-up and drop-off fees at $10.

"We get a lot of tourists coming in looking for bikes to use," Phelps said. "People come into town and Google 'bike rental' and we pop up."

This healthy service and rental business is making Central District Cyclery what Phelps hopes will be a long-term addition to the downtown Grand Rapids retail landscape. 

Read 1550 times Last modified on Sunday, 29 July 2012 22:15

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