Tyler Klein got his first job at a bicycle shop when he was 15, and now at 31 years old, he’s got his own store. The Iowa native moved to Chattanooga in September to open the city’s first Trek Bicycle Store.
For the last 10 years, Mr. Klein had worked for Trek, most recently at the bike maker’s corporate headquarters in Madison, Wisc. In that time Mr. Klein opened 20 Trek stores around the world and 60 of the company’s stores in the United States.
His Trek store opens in the Two North Shore shopping center in North Chattanooga the day after Thanksgiving, and will be the 63rd store and the first one in the state. Opening all of those stores over the years has taken him to 35 states and places like Seoul, Korea, and Montevideo, Uruguay.
“All of the bits and pieces I liked from those stores are in here,” he said, looking around at the 5,000-square-feet of space facing Manufacturers Road.
In the days leading to the opening of the store, work will wrap up on the build-out, which he estimates cost around $300,000. At least one of his eight employees, Mike Teff, will work long hours assembling the more than 100 bikes before opening day.
Mr. Teff, who also moved from Madison recently, will oversee the shop’s service department. Once it is running at 100 percent, the store will have more than 300 bikes on hand at any time. And the bikes are suitable for just about everyone, Mr. Klein said, from a child’s first bike for $150 to road bikes that cost more than $8,000.
Since all Trek stores are independently owned, the store is considered to be a concept store, meaning that 80 percent of the inventory will be Trek bikes and accessories. The remaining 20 percent will consist of other brands, including cycling apparel maker Hincapie Sportswear, based in Greenville, S.C.
Illinois-native Andy Sweet will work as the store’s sales manager. The store is opening in a prime location on the North Shore and should draw people who are just curious about what it will look like, he said.
“I think there will be a really good reception to the store because of the location and the name,” Mr. Sweet said.
Mr. Klein compares the market in greater Chattanooga with about 500,000 people to that of the communities surrounding Madison, which he said have a total population of about 550,000. He said the market in Madison supports more than three times the number of stores than Chattanooga has.
“There’s plenty of room in the market for another bike shop,” he said.
Mr. Klein and employees who have come from other parts of the country marvel at the accessibility of Chattanooga’s bike trails. He said the mountains here make Wisconsin seem flat, making the riding so much more fun. Plus, the winters here are not nearly as brutal as Wisconsin’s.
But Mr. Klein said he hasn’t been on his bike much since he got here.
“Once the store gets open and things get calm, I’m going to ride,” he said. “It will be my first time getting to ride in December, January and February.”