With the Tweetsie Trail opening in August 2014, demand for bicycles in Johnson City and Elizabethton area will skyrocket.
Local bike trails attract hundreds of thousands of adventure-seeking people. In Virginia, over 100,000 people enjoy the 34-mile Creeper Trail each year.
To satisfy the demand for bicycles, over eight bicycle shops are located in the small town nearest the Creeper Trail, Damascus, VA.
While the Tweetsie Trail is not the Creeper trail, it would not be too big of a stretch to say that Johnson City may see its number of bikers double, if not triple, in the warmer months of 2015.
One of the first to notice this ensuing increase in demand was Chad Wolfe from Crown Point, Indiana. Chad Wolfe, and his wife, AnnMarie, just moved to Johnson City at the beginning of 2015 to start an entrepreneurial adventure of a lifetime.
With over nineteen years in the biking industry, Chad started with Trek when he was fifteen years old and worked his way up to General Manager at the Trek Bicycle Store in Schererville, IN, outside Chicago.
When it was time to look for a new location to open a Trek Concept Store, Chad and AnnMarie began looking across the United States. Trek Corporate had preferred “hotspots” — pre-selected cities that were more than likely to be successful according to market research — already picked out and recommended them to the Wolfes. But most of these sites were located in the flat country of the West, places where the Wolfes were not excited to live. They wanted mountains. So they heard about Asheville, NC and flew over the Appalachian mountains to pay a visit. They thought it was a great location but the competition was swarming. After investigating the largest cities close to Asheville, they found Johnson City. Immediately, they fell in love. “It was Crown Point (home) in the mountains that worked with our active, outdoorsy lifestyle.”
But Trek Corporate needed to be convinced before allowing Chad to open a Trek Concept Store in a “small town” in the mountains of Tennessee. They put their market research team on the area and found Johnson City to be a growing economy with budding attractions such as the Founder’s Park, downtown revitalization, and especially the Tweetsie Trail.
“We are incredibly excited for this opportunity,” said Brian Schutter, with Retail Services with Trek Bicycles. “Johnson City is the right location and the right community for Trek to be in and our demographic research confirmed that with a great report of city growth and development and Chad Wolfe is the right individual — his experience and dedication made it an easy fit for him to own a store in Johnson City.
With approval granted, Chad began looking online for a retail building in downtown in mid 2014. When he saw the historic former hardware store on the corner of West Market Street and Commerce Street listed online, he contacted the broker, Shannon Castillo with Mitch Cox Realtor, Inc.
Owner Brent Long, a local developer from Blountville, bought the building from URA in January 2014.
The trio shared the same high standards for what they envisioned moving into the first floor of the London Building. Chad signed a ten-year-lease in November 2014.
A Trek Concept Store
While Trek Bicycles are sold by various retailers across the nation, a Trek Concept Store is dedicated to delivering a pure Trek experience, by selling only the Trek brand. The Concept Store will “feel” like an Apple store because of its open design, limited product displays, and high-level of interaction with staff to ensure best product-customer fit.
The Johnson City Trek Bicycle Store will follow the lead of Tupelo Honey Cafe, which customized its restaurant to fit the local culture by building out its operation into a historic train station.
“Concept Stores have a standard look, but a store that works in Chicago would stick out in Johnson City. It needs to fit the community,” said Chad Wolfe.
Ernest Campbell, owner of Campbell Construction in Johnson City, is the general contractor performing the renovation of the London Building.
The interior of the store will have repurposed wood, exposed brick walls, a Fit Studio (where customers get outfitted with gear), a sliding barn door, and featured showroom. Trek interior designers will be coming down in February from Trek’s headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin to prepare the store for opening.
The 5,300 square foot shop will be hiring assemblers, technicians, and salespeople totaling six full-time positions and will most likely increase that number to twelve in the busy season.
Trek Bicycle Store in Johnson City is the 109th Trek Concept Store to open in the United States. Each Concept Store is individually owned and locally operated.
Chad Wolfe said, “I’m excited to make the move from one of the first twenty Trek Concept Stores in Schererville, Indiana to opening my own Trek Concept Store here in Johnson City.”
His vision is to turn Johnson City into one of the most bike-friendly communities in the United States. After opening in April 2015, he looks forward to starting up “social rides.”
“In Schererville, we hosted weekly social rides where up to 200 bikers would gather together for a casual ride to a fun, local destination, like a brewery or breakfast spot,” he said. “It was a huge hit, especially the Pint Ride and Bikin’ and Eggs.”
For more information about the Trek Bicycle store opening up in Johnson City, visit the website or Facebook page. Chad’s favorite bike is the Trek FX and AnnMarie’s is the Trek Silque.
Trek Bicycles – Johnson City Concept Store
An Sneak Peek at the Interior of Trek Bicycle – Johnson City Concept Store