Retail roundup: Entrepreneur finds rare Manitou market niche in bike shop

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Manitou Bikes opened its doors in Manitou Springs during the first week of June. The shop sells new and used bikes and has bikes to rent for short- or long-term periods.

Manitou Bikes opened its doors in Manitou Springs during the first week of June. The shop sells new and used bikes and has bikes to rent for short- or long-term periods.

For several years, Colorado Springs resident Tim Chase had been looking at Manitou Springs, largely a tourism business market, as a potential spot for an enterprise. He just didn’t know what type of business might fit in among the rows and rows of boutiques and restaurants.

He has owned several businesses, worked as a business consultant and labored in the corporate world for 14 years, but early this year, a revelation came to him. There were no bicycle shops in Manitou Springs.

Chase and business partner Shaun Geogarty opened Manitou Bikes at 713 Manitou Ave. during the first week of June. The 1,500 square-foot, full-service sales and repair shop carries a variety of bicycles, including: mountain and BMX bikes, tandems, unicycles and road bikes, even lightweight, full-carbon frame bikes.

“One thing we do is the single-speed city bikes, which is a little bit different,” Chase said. “We have embraced the (cycling) lifestyle, as an alternate form of transportation and as a recreational thing.”

Manitou Bikes can special order parts and has a free used-parts bin. The business also rents bikes, for periods as short as half a day or as long as all season.

“Cycling doesn’t have to be an elitist thing,” Chase said. “Bicycles can be for everyone, from a 5-year old to a 95-year old. People often tell us that bikes make them feel like a kid again. They really feel that joy.”

During the first few weeks he’s been in business, Chase said sales at Manitou Bikes have been better than expected.

“The city of Manitou Springs has really embraced us,” he said. “We feel lucky and grateful for that.”

August beer fest

The Seventh Annual Craft Lager Festival is scheduled for Aug. 8-9 at Manitou Springs’ Memorial Park. Proceeds support open space and parks in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.

Volunteers will staff the event, which will feature hand-crafted lagers from more than 20 U.S. brewers. The festival will be solar powered and include live music and dancing, free parking and free soft drinks for designated drivers.

Find discounted tickets and more information at www.craftlagerfestival.com.

Nile Café hookah request OK’d

Michael Ezzat and Jimmy Sabry, owners of the Nile Café in Manitou Springs, have obtained a license from Manitou Springs to allow hookah smoking service and tobacco sales.

“We have started our hookah service and we’re trying to make it affordable for people,” Ezzat said. “We sell only fruit flavors of tobacco, which contains no tar or nicotine, and charge $8.95 for a customers’ first bowl and $5.59 for a second bowl.”

The owners opened the Nile Café during early May and originally planned to offer hookah service from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., but found their hookah customers weren’t arriving until around 10 p.m. So, Ezzat and Sabry will now keep the restaurant open for dinner until 10 p.m. and then offer the hookah from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week.

Celebrations on rise

Retailers nationwide could benefit from higher Independence Day celebrations, according to a report from the National Retail Federation.

The NRF’s 2009 Independence Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey predicts that more people will celebrate the July 4th holiday this year than last.

Because the holiday falls on a weekend, many Americans are planning to host or attend a cookout, barbecue or picnic (62.6 percent) compared to last year (61.2 percent).

The survey also found that more people will attend a fireworks celebration and purchase additional patriotic merchandise.

However, 44.5 percent of consumers are expected to change their holiday plans because of a recent spike in gasoline prices.

Scott Prater covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.