There’s a new business rolling into town. On two wheels, to be exact.
“Seeing all the bike lanes, and the way the trails are situated here — it really got my wheels turning,” Jeff Carroll said.
Carroll, a recently retired product manager for DST Systems of Kansas City, officially announced Monday his plans to open a bicycle shop in downtown Ottawa. The shop will be “Ottawa Bike and Trail,” located at 130 S. Main, Ottawa, and is projected to open in October.
Carroll intends the the cyclery to be a one-stop shop — offering bicycle repairs, sales, gear, rentals, and even tours — along with functioning as a hub for the area’s burgeoning cycling culture.
“My main goal with the shop is to offer really good, high-quality bikes at a reasonable price,” Carroll said. “My main target market is going to be families and people who aren’t necessarily avid cyclists. We’ll have a community of cyclists that hopefully call this place home, but we really want to get more people into cycling — get kids into cycling, families into cycling. My hope is that I can set it up so that new people start to see the benefits of it, start to utilize the trails, and start to get outside more.”
Carroll is even designing a trade-in program, catered toward the parents of growing children.
“If someone buys a bike for their kid, as soon as they outgrow it, they can trade it in and step up to the next bike,” he said. “I’d really like to get kids into cycling, so nothing would make me happier than getting a kid who may not be into cycling, getting them going.”
As for promoting the Ottawa area’s cycling resources, Carroll is on a mission to advocate for the two rail trails intersecting in Ottawa — the Prairie Spirit Rail-Trail and the Flint Hills Nature Trail — as regional destinations for novice and experienced cyclists alike.
“Part of my goal as well is to get people to recognize the two trails as destinations within the state,” he said. “Once they do, they’ll see what’s in the community, they’ll see the trails, and that will cause them to come back.”
To this end, Carroll plans to offer tour services from his shop.
“I have a 12-passenger van, so I’ll be able to take groups of cyclists out on the Prairie Spirit Trail or out on the Flint Hills Trail, and they can ride back,” he explained. “So the idea there is, if they want to do the whole trail, fifty miles, twenty miles; we’ll be able to drop them off and provide support on the way back.”
MAKING THE JUMP
After retiring from his career job, Carroll began seeking out a community ripe for a cyclery.
“The idea of a bike shop had been in my head for the past three or four years,” Carroll said. “The decision to move to Ottawa came this summer. We came down to check out the town, and I saw there was a lot going on here. I immediately thought, ‘This is the place I want to put my shop.’”
Carroll began reaching out to community resources.
“I started by working with the city,” he said. “That was another reason for coming to Ottawa — they made it clear that they were interested in seeing a bike shop come in, and they helped me meet the right people in town.”
Carroll then leveraged social media to gauge community interest in cycling, eventually hosting a group ride in July.
“I got a huge response for it,” Carroll said. “I advertised it on Facebook, and got 180 people who were interested...that showed me that yeah, there’s a lot of interest.”
The ride cemented Carroll’s confidence in his bike-business endeavor.
“All doubt went away when I rode with this group on the Flint Hills Rail Trail,” he said. “[The trail] is gorgeous, and when I was out there I was like “This is what I was meant to do.” There was no doubt after that. If I can get more people to feel what I felt going down those trails, we’ll be successful.”