New S-B biz has bikes and tours
The family-owned business and fullservice bike shop also includes a touring company with bike rentals.
The Grand Traverse Bike Tour and Suttons Bay Bike Shop, at 118 N. St. Marys St., opened on June 9.
“We’ve been doing a great job with tune-ups,” Kasey said. “They’re still coming in.
“And we’ve had a couple of tours.”
“The word is getting out,” Nick said. “Business has been good.
“It’s been busier than I expected. We’ve been received well as a bike shop and our rentals and tours are starting to take off.”
The Suttons Bay couple live next door to their “store,” a 30x30 alley garage that serves as a repair shop and showroom.
The Wierzbas, native Michiganders who met in college while on the Michigan State cycling team, had been living out in the Napa Valley, Yountville, Calif. Nick had been managing the Napa Valley Bike Tours.
“We kept waiting to move back where our friends and families live,” said Nick, 30, who grew up in Okemos. Kasey, 33, grew up in Traverse City.
Nick said he enjoyed his job in California wine country, however, it didn’t have trails.
“The No. 1 complaint I heard was ‘Where is the bike trail?’” he said. “But there was none.”
When the Wierzbas heard that the paving of the final 6.5 miles of the Leelanau Trail, connecting the wine country between Traverse City and Suttons Bay, was scheduled for completion this summer, they made the move. The trail was paved and opened on July 1.
“We found this location and it seemed like a perfect fit,” Nick said. “This is definitely a dream come true, even though it comes with a lot of work.”
The bike shop and touring business in wine country is a perfect fit, too, for the Wierzbas. Nick studied recreation and tourism in college and Kasey studied viticulture — the science, production and study of grapes which deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard.
“Suttons Bay now has a paved bike trail that leads to wineries and the wine industry is just taking off here,” Nick said.
The Wierzbas expect this month and next to be best for their business, which includes self-guided ($59) or personally guided ($99) tours of the area including wineries. The tours include bikes, lunches and pick-ups of wine purchases.
“Kasey has quite the knowledge of the wine industry and grapes,” Nick said. “Our tours are designed for tourists, not touring cyclists.”
More information about Grand Traverse Bike Tours can be found at www.grandtraversebiketours.com.
Nick, who designed the company logo, which is the front of a bike with a basket, said having a touring company with a different name also helps draw in customers.
“What I learned from Napa Valley is that our success is based on our name,” he said. “We’re kind of two businesses within one and having a different name for our shop makes it easier for people to find us.”
In a google search of northwestern Michigan, he found Grand Traverse the second most searched name behind Traverse City.
“Although we’re not in Traverse City, we do do tours in Grand Traverse,” Nick said.
In addition to bicycle accessories, the Wierzbas are also doing some paddleboard business.
Nick is the chief mechanic, having learned the trade while wrenching at a bike shop in between classes at MSU.
“But I can change a tire pretty good, too,” Kasey piped in.
“When I’m not here, Kasey does tire changes and little tweaks here and there,” Nick admitted.
While there are much bigger bike shops in Traverse City, the Wierzbas feel they have a good niche.
“You don’t have to go into TC to get a bike fixed,” Nick said. “Although I’ve got some 20 bikes that need repair in the shop today, we can fix some bikes immediately.
“A quick derailleur adjustment can be done right on the spot.”
The bike shop is open every day except Tuesdays. However, tours and rentals, including paddleboards, are available on Tuesdays by calling the shop at 421-6815.
Hours of operation are weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.