published Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Trailhead Bicycle Co. shop owner passionate for cycling community

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    Andrew Barnett, left, a mechanic at Trailhead Bicycle Co., talks with cyclist Jim Harner about biking gloves.
    Photo by Carey O'Neil.
    enlarge photo

Name: Trailhead Bicycle Co.

Location: 225 First St. NE, Cleveland, Tenn.

Contact information: 423-472-9899, TrailheadBicycle.com

Products/services: A wide variety of bikes, parts and accessories. The store also services bikes.

Age: Almost seven years

A passion for cycling: After seven years putting in six days at his bike shop each week, owner Charles Nelson still says he enjoys cycling. "That's a noteworthy statement, a bike shop owner still enjoys riding bikes," he joked. Nelson and his employee Andrew Barnett both love the sport and have led bike tours in exotic locals such as Costa Rica.

Target market: Nelson said the beauty about biking is its broad appeal. Anyone from a young child playing to an adult exercising to a senior cruising a scenic route can have a fun time on two wheels. "There's so many genres of biking now that there's something for everybody," Nelson said.

Biggest challenge: Competing with online retailers. The average potential bike buyer goes online first to research what kind of bike they want, how much they should pay and where they can order or pick up a bike. That makes drawing customers into the store more difficult.

Biggest reward: Watching customers nurture a passion for cycling and become healthy. Often customers will come into the store to find a bike for the occasional casual ride. Barnett has found several of those customers keep coming back, building up their bikes along with their passion for the sport. "It's rewarding when people's quality of life is improved by riding," he said.

Future goals: Nelson would like to host more events, helping foster a biking community in Cleveland. Today Trailhead hosts an annual race at the end of April, but Nelson expects to increase the number of events and trips in future years.

-- Compiled by Carey O'Neil. If you have an idea for a small business feature, contact reporter Carey O'Neil at coneil@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6525. Follow him at twitter.com/careyoneil.

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