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Former employees reopen Delaware shop in new location following closure

Published April 10, 2018
The new store's new owners.

NEWARK, Del. (BRAIN) — On a Monday in mid-January, Tom Harvey, the owner of Wooden Wheels bike shop, announced he would close the shop. Employees Chris Denney, Robbie Downward and David Ferguson didn't see it coming.

"He had his reasons, he had been doing it for 42 years and decided it was time to go his separate way with the shop," said Ferguson. "It was a last minute thing on his part so we had no heads up. We had an hour of breathing. We were confused as to what we would do. We weren't necessarily bummed we had lost our jobs, but more because we had lost the space that was so important to us."

Denney worked at Wooden Wheels for 16 years, Downward for six and Ferguson for one year. But all three had been customers since they were 8 or 9 years old. The trio made the decision to keep Wooden Wheels alive, but in their own way. They launched a GoFundMe campaign, which Ferguson said took off like wildfire.

"That showed us just how many people were committed to Wooden Wheels and really loved what the shop stood for," he said. "So we decided to do something to keep our customers that were loyal to us for so many years happy, getting their bikes tuned and having access to parts."

After raising $18,000 of their $20,000 goal, Denney, Downward and Ferguson began looking for a space to lease. They purchased some inventory and tools from former owner Harvey, but not the business itself. But they kept the Wooden Wheels name.

Every shop needs a good shop dog. Wooden Wheels has Max!

Wooden Wheels Service and Repair opened earlier this month in a 2,200 square-foot storefront located about two miles from the original store. The new store is 6,000 square feet smaller than the original, but the shop's new focus is on providing customer service and repairs. It will also serve local coffee from Little Goat Coffee Roasters.

"Our service center is on the left when you walk through the door and covers a third of the store. We've got two stands well put out. It's nice and neat and Robbie and I can crank out a good bit of service," Denney said. "The rest of the store is welcoming. There is seating and a waiting area where people can grab a coffee or a beer."

The store is located on the edge of town, putting it close to a popular gravel trail. It will stock some Scott bikes and a selection of parts, accessories and apparel from Gore Bike Wear, which is headquartered in Newark. Ferguson said they decided not to carry over brands Wooden Wheels previously stocked in an effort to differentiate the new location.

"We want people to know it is Wooden Wheels, and that they can expect some of the same things, like the great service and quality work," he said. "But this is a new shop."

Wooden Wheels held a grand opening on April 7 and is now fully open for business in its new location.

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