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Trek buys Virginia's East Coasters Bike Shops

Published August 10, 2022

BLACKSBURG, Va. (BRAIN) — East Coasters Bike Shops co-owner Wesley Best was unusually busy Tuesday, but it had little to do with running the two stores that he and Chris Betz have operated since 2005.

"Today is a big inventory day," Best said. East Coasters will become Trek Bicycle stores later this month. "We're finalizing everything to know what the numbers are. Get the deal ready to sign off on tomorrow. This is the down-and-dirty, not fun, stuff."

East Coasters officially closed at the end of the day Monday. The Blacksburg shop and sister location in Roanoke, Virginia, will reopen around the middle of the month under Trek management.

The Blacksburg location — about 2,200 square feet — opened in 1974 and Roanoke — about 4,800 square feet — in 1993. The shop has been a Trek dealer for more than 25 years. The East Coasters staff will be retained by Trek, Best said.

Best, 53, said he and Betz, 60, will step away from the shop life completely, and "neither one of us have a clue as to what we're going to do next." Best has been in the industry since the mid-1990s and Betz since the late-1980s.

While it was a difficult decision to sell, Best said it was the right time.

"We've had this great upswing over the last couple of years. This is a record year for us so far, 2021 was a record, and 2020 was a record. And one thing I know in this business is that it means a great downswing is somewhere around the corner. And we figure that by the time we make it through a downswing, and then try to make it back up, that could easily be 10 years down the road to try and get back even close to where we are. And with the way the business is changing ..."

Best said the industry's evolution to a more corporate entity weighed heavily.

"I just think the writing on the wall is on the wall. Rick Vosper has been writing these articles in Bicycle Retailer about Bike Industry 2.0, 3.0. I think he's spot on that these are seed changes in the industry, and I just don't know for guys who are passionate about bikes, passionate about customer service, we do our best to take care of our employees. If you did those things 10 years ago, you'd kick ass. And now you better be way more dialed than that."

He said his workforce, which includes 10 full-time employees between the two locations, will now receive health and retirement benefits through Trek.

The sale happened organically, Best said, with a rep mentioning a few years ago Trek would be interested if ever they were looking to move on.

"Then it turned into, 'Hey were you guys serious?' It was baby steps for a long time. Once the baby steps started accumulating, we started really thinking it through and knowing a downturn is coming. And just looking at how that's going to look and the timeline for that. And how old are we going to be through that? And how much is the business going to be changing? Trek has been great through this process. But it's clear they have goals. And it's clear they are not forcing sales."

Best said customer feedback has been almost all positive but said some were "pretty bummed."

"They see it as the death of a small business, which I guess it is," he said. "But that's just the way things are heading. Overwhelmingly, I think when people find that all of the staff is staying on, that changes everything."

Topics associated with this article: Mergers, Acquisitions & Investments

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