McHENRY, IL (BRAIN) Jan 25—Mike Mrachek hasn’t been in the bike business since his college days helping run a shop in Bloomington, Illinois—which is why last week found him at the Barnett Bicycle Institute in Colorado Springs getting a wrenching refresher and boning up on the latest technology.
“You learn a lot of shortcuts that mechanics get from years of experience,” he said.
All this is in preparation for the opening next month of Mrachek’s new shop, Epic Cycle and Fitness in McHenry, Illinois, 50 miles north of Chicago.
Mrachek had been a project manager for a construction company for 10 years. But with construction having fallen on hard times, he considered going into the bicycle industry.
“There was a local bike business for sale in McHenry. I had pursued it and ended up passing on it. But it got the wheels turning on ‘Why can’t I do it myself?’ ” Mrachek said.
He started talking to bike vendors about what it would take to open a shop, then applied for a city program in McHenry providing loans to new businesses that promote job creation and new activity benefiting the community. “When that fell into place, that was a big piece of the puzzle,” Mrachek said.
Armed with $25,000 from the city at an attractive interest rate, he set about creating Epic Cycle and Fitness, which will have its grand opening Feb. 24. The shop has 1,800 square feet of retail and service space, plus 1,400 square feet of basement storage. Mrachek plans to offer everything from children’s bikes to high-end road and mountain rigs. Giant is the main bike line.
A small lounge and coffee area will allow Mrachek to consult comfortably with customers about different bikes to make sure they get what they’re looking for. And with the Illinois Prairie Path and Moraine Hills State Park both in town, Mrachek plans to start organizing shop rides soon.