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Cycling apparel company adding full-service bike repair to visitor center

Published September 9, 2021
Kitsbow's Ride House will be home to Schoenauer Service Course.

OLD FORT, N.C. (BRAIN) — Kitsbow Cycling Apparel begins offering full-service bike repair out of its visitor center beginning this week.

The Old Fort Ride House Bike Shop, Powered by Schoenauer Service Course, will be managed and staffed by Chad Schoenauer, a longtime area bike mechanic and service manager. He has more than 30 years of experience in the industry and the Asheville area road racing scene.

Schoenauer will rent a 700 square-foot space, with Kitsbow providing point of sale terminals, marketing assistance, and other support.

"Kitsbow has been a tremendous partner at startup, and no doubt will be in the future," Schoenauer said. "Kitsbow has already developed an excellent customer experience with the Old Fort Ride House. SSC will enhance the Ride House experience and vice versa."

He said with Kitsbow's help, many of the barriers for beginning his shop have been eliminated.

"Not only is the space itself ideal for a shop, but it's also within an extremely secure building, has awesome lighting, compressed air lines installed, fixtures, furniture, and even shelving has been shared with SSC," said Schoenauer, who added he will provide his own tools. "They have graciously allowed me to utilize the Ride House POS, saving a lot of time and expense. Unifying the customer experience is extremely important to Kitsbow and SSC. I am thrilled to work with these folks. (CEO) David Billstrom knows that when SSC benefits, Kitsbow will as well."

The Ride House is located next to the manufacturing facility and is on the doorstep of 70,000-plus acres of public land and more than 40 miles of trails in and around Old Fort. The bike shop will be part of other amenities already offered, including a cafe, device-charging stations, bike racks, public restrooms, changing rooms, and free filtered chilled water.

While bike sales and rentals are not yet part of the shop's rollout, it likely will be the next step, said Billstrom, who added the company is talking to several major brands about hosting a demo center.

In addition to service, Schoenauer will "act as a concierge to help choose your new bike," Billstrom said. "I think he's going to have a robust business building bikes for people who buy them on the internet. We are supporting him in many ways to hit the ground running."

And because of the bike boom, Schoenauer predicts a fast start.

"Most shops are out three-plus weeks for turnaround," he said. "This is where the greatest opportunity lies. This is especially so for an area such as Old Fort, which is seeing growth in the outdoor recreation sector, particularly in cycling."

Chad Schoenauer.

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