Even after more than 30 years as the home to Bicycle Alley, 1067 Main St., Webster Square, is keeping the wheels rolling.
Burgeoning national chain Bikes and Life took over the corner location Nov. 1 following the October retirement of Bicycle Alley owner David Kahn. Bikes and Life retained the Bicycle Alley staff … and, say the new principals, the commitment to customer service.
Bikes and Life store manager Neil Medin, who had been with Bicycle Alley for roughly 20 years, said the transition last month went smoothly and that customers have responded well to the change.
“Business has been going well. Customers are excited that business will continue in a shop in Webster Square.”
Bikes and Life was launched just over a year ago. It was founded by former U.S. Army captain and CEO John Antretter; former NFL first-round draft pick and 10-year veteran Jeff Faine; Chantal Line Carpentier, New York office chief of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; and professional triathlete and coach Luc Morin.
When Antretter purchased the former Bicycle Alley spot he kept on Modin and co-manager Jeff O’Reilly, along with four other Bicycle Alley employees.
“The guys in the shop are a special group. Five of the six guys that I inherited from the former owner have 108 years experience in the bike industry,” Antretter said.
Antretter, a self-described opportunist, said he met Jim Mercier — the original founder of Bicycle Alley, who works for Stromer, an electric bike company in Switzerland — while attending a fall festival in Georgia. It was there that Mercier suggested Antretter consider moving into the Bicycle Alley space.
Within days, Antretter made arrangements with Kahn and the building’s landlord, Chris Liazos, to take over the property.
According to Medin, the biggest difference now that Bikes and Life has taken over is the amount of community involvement the business is taking part in. “We’ve definitely increased our involvement with cycling clubs and other organizations to connect us to the community [more] than we have in the past.”
“It’s been known as a bike shop for a gazillion years,” Antretter said. “It’s a big part of the community. Since day one, people have been welcoming us.”
As part of their dedication to the community, Bikes and Life has set aside a 2,000-square-foot room for community use, including serving as a meeting point for a cycling club.
“It’s all about community. It’s continuous. I love Worcester. I just feel as if I know these people,” said Antretter, an admitted New York Jets and Mets fan from Flushing, New York. “The thing about beautiful Worcester is that these people are resilient. You throw them a curveball, and it doesn’t phase them.”
The Webster Square location in Worcester will be the third opened this year for Bikes and Life, with two more planned soon in California and Florida.
Since Bikes and Life took over the business, according to Medin, sales have remained as consistent for colder months as they have in the past.
“Staff is doing great. We are getting new product in daily from our major vendors of our new bike lines, which we are excited about — Cannondale and Giant — and we’re creating a fresher look to the store including renovations to the outside and inside, and sprucing up the place to make it more enjoyable for our customers,” Medin said.
“We’re excited to have a new, fresh line of accessories and bikes in the store,” he added. “And new vendors and partners that we’re working with. It’s really going well so far.”
“We want people to walk in and have a good vibe. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish,” Antretter said. “If you can sell something, and make money on it, and it’s fun and healthy, then it’s a good business to be in.”
Bikes and Life
1067 Main St. (former Bicycle Alley)
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday; noon-5 p.m., Sunday