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Women's shop bounces back after flood

Published December 2, 2011

GREENVILLE, S.C. (BRAIN)—It was a double celebration for Pedal Chic owner Robin Bylenga when she held the grand reopening of her women’s bicycle and athletic shop in mid-November: The shop’s return also coincided with its first anniversary.

A month earlier, four days of heavy rain proved too much for the roof of Bylenga’s downtown Greenville business. Rainwater deluged Pedal Chic, causing $30,000 to $40,000 in property damage and about the same amount in loss of inventory and fixtures.

“In 30 minutes the shop was destroyed,” said Bylenga, who was in the store when the flooding began. “It’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever been through.”

She was ready to give up. “When all this happened, I just sat on the floor and thought, ‘I just can’t do this anymore.’ Anyway, the next day I opened Bicycle Retailer and read the article about Duke’s Cycle,” she said. (Click on the link at the upper right of this post to see the story on Duke's)

That report, by BRAIN’s Nicole Formosa, told the story of how bicycle retailer Gary Duke faced the difficult decision of whether to rebuild his Toronto shop— opened by his Polish emigrant grandfather in 1914 as a sporting goods store—after a fire destroyed it in 2008. Duke’s Cycle reopened in April 2011.

“He had it so much worse than I did,” Bylenga said. “I knew I couldn’t give up.”

'Basically a new shop'

What followed was a month of solid work that lasted until minutes before the Nov. 18 reopening, including roof repair, a new ceiling, mold abatement, cleaning of duct work, new light fixtures and floor repair. All of Bylenga’s mahogany furniture and cash desk had to be refinished—she describes Pedal Chic as “boutique-y”—and her trademark crystal chandeliers have been rehung.

She also rearranged the layout of her 2,000-square-foot store to get more retail space. “I basically have a new shop,” said Bylenga.

Now she’s back to dealing her style-minded lineup of mostly city, hybrid and commuter bikes and women’s cycling apparel and après wear, as well as women’s clothing and equipment for yoga, tri, running and other sports.

Bylenga was overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity from the Greenville community and beyond in helping get Pedal Chic open again. “I really relied a lot on friends and had customers and all sorts of people showing up to paint and help,” she said.

Greenville resident George Hincapie also signed autographs at the grand opening, attended by about 300 people. Restaurant Ford’s Oyster House, located next door, provided all the food gratis.

—Toby Hill
thill@bicycleretailer.com

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