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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.

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