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Mobile mechanic to open Memphis retail store

Published October 15, 2015

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After operating a mobile repair business for the past year and a half, Jim Steffen, known as The Bikesmith, is joining the ranks of the brick-and-mortar IBD. Steffen, who has worked on bikes his whole life, said he has always wanted to own a bike shop and that having a repair truck was never part of his plan.

Steffen launched The Bikesmith in 2013 after receiving help from the city of Memphis via its MEMMobile program. “My wife and I had always wanted to do something community-oriented, so when MEMMobile came along, we thought we would try doing it in a truck,” said Steffen, who had attended Barnett Bicycle Institute and worked for Clark Butcher as Victory Bicycle Studio’s “oldest intern ever”.

The two-year MEMMobile program includes forgivable loans and grants and free education to help new entrepreneurs run a successful business. Steffen recently signed a lease on a 2,000-square-foot space with roll-up doors and plenty of space to park the repair truck — which he will continue to operate.

“The mobile repair was so successful and it will continue to be a central part of the business. So many people depend on their bike for transportation and can’t be without it for even a day,” Steffen said. “So I want to be able to continue to offer that convenience.”

The Bikesmith has full-service repair department in the front of the store, and one of Steffen’s priorities is to demystify bike repair. “I want it out in the open. I want customers to see how things are done,” he said. “I think people have a fear of going into a bike shop, like going into a car repair shop. I don’t want my shop to be intimidating. There should be no mysteries.”

The Bikesmith employs one additional full-time and two part-time staff members, including Steffen’s wife. It stocks an array of accessories, used bikes, and new bikes from Public, Pure Fix and Pure City. “We’re going to start with a small inventory and wait to see what people pick up before we add more,” Steffen said.

The store is scheduled to open by the end of October.

Topics associated with this article: Mobile service

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