SEAL BEACH, CA (BRAIN) — Two and a half years ago Brian Ballard bought his first Pedego electric bike. He and life partner Elizabeth Black have enjoyed owning and riding their bikes so much that the couple invested in opening a Pedego e-bike store along Pacific Coast Highway in this beachside, retirement community south of Long Beach. The shop held its grand opening and ribbon cutting, attended by the city’s mayor and representatives from the local chamber of commerce, Saturday.
The store is the first venture into the world of retail—and bike retail—for Ballard and Black. Ballard, who sold life and health insurance for 17 years, turned to e-bikes after a fateful ride a few years ago. His blood glucose level bottomed out while out on a ride with Black. Ballard was diagnosed with diabetes at a young age, making it difficult for him to maintain his sugar levels, especially while exercising.
The experience proved frightening enough to keep Ballard from getting back in the saddle for a year. Eventually though the couple took up riding again, buying a set of Pedego e-bikes. They said the electric bikes give them both comfort knowing that if they go on a long ride, they will be able to make it back without any problems. Ballard could choose how much to pedal or if he needs a bit of assist up a hill.
Black, a freelance writer and former staff writer and associate editor at Toastmaster magazine, began handling public relations for Pedego last summer. Both Black and Ballard said they were impressed with the product and the customer service from the company so they approached co-founder Don DiCostanzo about opening a location in greater Long Beach. The Seal Beach store is the 11th Pedego-branded shop to open since March 2012, and one of 50 that DiCostanzo said should be in operation by the end of the year. The next one to open will be in Redondo Beach, California.
Beach communities are the target for these Pedego concept stores, he said, which are individually owned and operated, but as brand-exclusive stores benefit from additional marketing support. Pedego builds their websites, sets up their social media sites, sends out direct mailers, helps owners with store design and displays, and ensures territory exclusivity. Many retailers opening Pedego stores are Pedego enthusiasts and own one themselves but typically have never worked in the bicycle industry or previously owned a bike shop, he said.
DiCostanzo said Pedego-branded e-bike stores that sell, rent and offer tours are the preferred business model in coastal communities where there is year-round demand and sales. Pedego also sells through 200 independent bicycle dealers that aren’t brand-exclusive shops, DiCostanzo said.
“Our goal is to have 200 Pedego e-bike shops in the U.S. and sell through 800 specialists/IBDs,” he added.
He expects the Seal Beach store to be highly successful as it’s on a main bike cruising thoroughfare with easy access to bike paths and also close to Leisure World, a retirement community. Retirees and aging baby boomers are a core demographic for e-bike rentals and sales, DiCostanzo said.