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E-bike retail consolidates in Orange County as Franze buys neighboring store

Published March 11, 2020

FULLERTON, Calif. (BRAIN) — Among the strategies retailers use to make room for e-bike opportunities, Mike Franze has taken a novel approach: He bought the e-bike store next door.

Franze, who owns Fullerton Bicycles and Buena Park Bicycles, grew up racing BMX and loving bicycles. His "terrible corporate experience" led him to purchase Fullerton in 2003 and Buena Park in 2005. He's grown the businesses from $1.3 million in sales to $3.3 million.

With his sales of Giant and Electra e-bikes taking off, Franze considered his options. "I had no desire at age 55 to expand more, because I'm having fun now. I don't want to become Dave Hanson," said Franze, referring to the owner of the eight-store Jax Bicycles chain.

When Sam Townsend, owner of Electric Bicycle Center next door to Franze's Fullerton store, announced his decision to sell, Franze showed strong interest. "My first call was to John Thompson at Giant," Franze remembers.

"I told JT, 'Look, I don't want to disrupt our relationship, what do you think?'" Despite Electric Bicycle Center representing 22 different e-bike brands, Giant gave Franze a thumbs-up and three months later he owned the store and rebranded it as Fullerton Electric Bicycles.

BRAIN visited both stores on our E-bike Dealer Tour last October.

Townsend spoke with BRAIN on our E-bike Dealer Tour last October.

After the purchase Franze immediately pared down the store to seven mainstay brands. He now walks back and forth between the two stores, which are close enough to share a Wi-Fi network. Despite their proximity, his two Fullerton stores attract distinctly different customers.

"Last year, Sam sold almost 1,200 e-bikes, mostly in the $1,500 to $2,000 range. Models like the Emojo Panther and the E-Lux Tahoe," said Franze. "At Fullerton, we sold about 250 units averaging between $3,000 and $4,000. Our core market here is Giant and Santa Cruz e-MTBs."

Franze just celebrated his 18th anniversary as a bike retailer. "I never would have imagined ending up where I am today," he concluded. "It's been a lot of hard work and a great experience. The best part is the loyalty we see from our long-term customers."

Related: From the Magazine: BRAIN's E-Bike Dealer Tour.

Townsend and Franze were friendly neighbors.
Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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