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Retailer capitalizes on century-old clientele

Published July 24, 2012

RICHMOND, VA (BRAIN) Tuesday July 24 2012 8:27 AM MT—When Rowlett’s Bicycles closed its doors after 95 years in business, Randy Bohn jumped at the chance to expand his own thriving bicycle shop, Pedal Power.

“Rowlett’s was definitely an icon in the Richmond area,” said Bohn. “I knew good and well there would be people knocking on the door for years to come looking for a bicycle shop.”

Bohn, 61, has owned Pedal Power since 1989. Rowlett’s former address in Richmond will be Pedal Power’s second location, complementing its original store in Mechanicsville, Virginia. According to Bohn, the Richmond area is “on the threshold of becoming quite a bicycle town” and is hosting the 2015 World Cycling Championships.

“Not only is Richmond an up-and-coming area, but buying Rowlett’s basically secured us a built-in clientele,” said Bohn. “We couldn’t pass it up.”

Bohn purchased Rowlett’s from owner Fred Allyn in April, moved into the building in May and plans to open this Friday, July 27. The transition period has been rife with renovations. “We did an awful lot of remodeling to brighten up the place,” said Bohn. “We also moved the service department into the showroom because I’ve learned that people like to see what you’re doing to their bikes.”

Bohn believes his attention to customer preference, along with his free tune-ups and willingness to take trade-ins, is one of the reasons Pedal Power has gained such a loyal following. “Customer service is key,” noted Bohn. “For 22 years we’ve been building by word-of-mouth.”

Will Pedal Power still be around for another 70 years, and achieve the iconic status of Rowlett’s? “Maybe so,” laughed Bohn. “Maybe so.”

Pedal Power’s Richmond grand opening continues Saturday, July 28. To celebrate, the store will raffle off a Giant bicycle and offer a 10 percent discount off bicycles and 20 percent off other items.

Marisa Shimano

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