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Wheel & Sprocket, The Bike Lane join Beeline retailer program

Published September 24, 2017

LAS VEGAS (BRAIN) — Beeline Bikes continues to grow its Retail Partner Program, expanding into Virginia by signing two-store dealer The Bike Lane and reaching a deal with prominent Midwest retailer Wheel & Sprocket to roll out mobile bike shops in the Chicago market.

With eight stores total, Milwaukee-based Wheel & Sprocket opened its first Chicago-area location in Evanston, Illinois, in 2013, followed by a second store this year in Oak Park. Last week at Interbike, Wheel & Sprocket president and co-owner Noel Kegel told BRAIN that he saw Beeline as a way to expand the Trek retailer’s presence in the Chicago market without the larger financial outlay or territory considerations that come with opening new brick-and-mortar storefronts.

“Trek has great coverage in pretty much every market, so we can’t just find a place on a map and say, ‘Hey, we want to open a store there,’ ” said Kegel, son of Wheel Sprocket’s late founder, Chris Kegel. “If you want to carry Trek you have to play nice, and we want to play nice. We don’t want to elbow other people out from a brick-and-mortar perspective. So what’s nice about a business like this is that it extends our ability to do business beyond our existing footprints without the capital investment and without the territory issues that come along with a brick-and-mortar store.”

Wheel & Sprocket has purchased the rights to 11 Beeline territories over an area covering more than 10 million residents. But it will start with one co-branded Beeline/Wheel & Sprocket van based out of the Evanston store, servicing homes and businesses extending from the university town south to the Chicago Loop.

Kegel said it was important to him to start out small, and that he expects a learning curve in integrating Beeline into Wheel & Sprocket’s existing systems. “We’ll figure it out, and then we’ll be able to ramp up from there,” he said.

With brick-and-mortar locations in Reston and Springfield, Virginia, The Bike Lane was announced as a Beeline Retail Partner program participant last week. The retailer has purchased five Beeline territories and will immediately roll out its first van, with a second to follow in spring 2018.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Beeline on this exciting new venture,” Anne Mader, co-owner of The Bike Lane with husband Todd Mader, said in a statement. “We believe Beeline Virginia will strengthen our brick-and-mortar business while giving us access to a whole new customer base. In this changing retail climate, our goal is to deliver the best customer service wherever, and however, our customers shop.”

Beeline now has sold a total of 77 franchises, with about 25 currently active vans. Well over half the total have been sold to brick-and-mortar retailers through the mobile bike shop franchiser’s Retail Partner Program launched this year with Crossroad Bikes in San Antonio. Beeline has subsequently signed retailers including Summit Bikes in Northern California and Bicycle Garage Indy in Indianapolis.

“When looking at viable franchisees, we really want to make sure we have the right partner in every market, and a partner that wants the scale of business with us,” Beeline COO Pete Small told BRAIN at Interbike last week. “What we’ve seen is somebody who has knowledge of the bike industry, somebody who can attract and retain mechanics, somebody who wants to grow with us, generally those are retail partners. Not exclusively, but we’ve seen that a lot and have a lot of really good conversations going on.”


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