COSTA MESA, CA (BRAIN)—As a child in the 1960s, Mike Mulrooney cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the building that now houses Two Wheels One Planet and four decades later, he’s still showing up at the shop.
The business, which also includes a store in Lake Forest, has been in Mulrooney’s family since 1972 when his father bought the Costa Mesa shop from a family friend. For many years the shop was known as Sea Schwinn Bicycle, but Mulrooney changed it two-and-a-half years ago when the name began causing too much confusion because the shop no longer sold Schwinn bikes.
The environmental undertones of the shops' current name is no accident; Mulrooney wanted something that spoke to the advocacy side of the business.
Two Wheels One Planet has done work with Rails to Trails and with other local advocacy groups and this past summer started a commuter incentive program offering discounts to customers who pledge to go by bike.
“Here in this part of the country, in this part of the state, people are starting to realize that they can do a few things without being in the car. For us, this whole thing is forcing us to rethink the wheel,” Mulrooney said, standing in front of a poster displaying customers’ commuting pledges.
While the commuter category has done quite well for Two Wheels One Planet, Mulrooney is concerned about the current economic climate and how it will affect holiday sales, which are typically strong for the business.
After seeing strong growth during the first nine months of the year, “October hit and it was like slamming against the wall,” he said.
To adjust, the shop is promoting its layaway program and sales staff are upselling the consumer financing program and following up with potential customers who may visit the shop, but don't make a purchase.
“I think that’s the only way we’re going to stay in business. We can’t just wait for customers to come in the door,” Mulrooney said.
The Costa Mesa Two Wheels One Planet was the first stop on day four of BRAIN’s dealer tour around Orange County. The tour ends today in Dana Point.
Photo: Two Wheels One Planet owner Mike Mulrooney chats with BRAIN editors on Thursday morning.