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High end bike shop brings online pricing to Jenkins storefront

For years a popular online bike sales company has had inventory warehouses in Jenkins and Crosslake. As of July 2, the Jenkins warehouse opened a front end retail store called Crow Wing Cycleworks.

Billie Dobbs, store manager of Crow Wing Cycleworks demonstrates the light weight of higher end carbon fiber bicycles by lifting one with his thumb. Photo by Travis Grimler
Billie Dobbs, store manager of Crow Wing Cycleworks demonstrates the light weight of higher end carbon fiber bicycles by lifting one with his thumb. Photo by Travis Grimler

For years a popular online bike sales company has had inventory warehouses in Jenkins and Crosslake. As of July 2, the Jenkins warehouse opened a front end retail store called Crow Wing Cycleworks.

Ben Gibbs and Tom Maschhoff are the owners of Crosslake Sales and Randombikeparts.com, both popular online bicycle sales companies. They are popular for sake of their prices.

"Crosslake Sales and Randombikeparts.com are probably one of the top 10 sellers on eBay in the cycling category. We pretty much have the lowest price on eBay or Amazon and our website than pretty much anybody else in the country. We'll buy out $2 million worth of bike parts from FSA and then we can sell $800 cranks for $299," Gibbs said. "It's just offering great products at great prices in the bicycling industry."

Gibbs and Maschhoff are able to offer such low prices because they buy out inventory from various bicycle and bicycle part companies like Schwinn and Marin. Buying in bulk saves them money.

They used to own a retail store in Eagan where some of these bicycles and parts were sold, but recently closed it to open a shop in Jenkins, where they had owned a warehouse for the last two years.

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"We had people managing it but it was just so far to go there and transport inventory that we decided to close that up and move up here. With all those vacation people coming up here and all the people on that bike trail, we're hitting our target market. We're hitting the bicycle enthusiasts, people who actually use their bikes," Gibbs said.

"It's been full of bikes. They bought it as a warehouse, but it already had this storefront because it used to be a lumber yard," said Billie Dobbs, manager of the Jenkins store. "We had a warehouse full of bikes and we are right on a bike trail. That was a no-brainer. Let's open a bike shop."

The same prices that make Crosslake Sales and Randombikeparts.com popular are found at Crow Wing Cycleworks.

Dobbs was hired to run the retail shop, though he said he didn't know what to expect. When he arrived, the first thing he saw was a warehouse filled top to bottom with brand new 2013 Marin bicycles.

Dobbs was hired for his previous experience in business ownership and management. Dobbs has owned or operated eight businesses in the last 13 years, including The Calendar Club and Go Games kiosk and Cornerstone Snacks, which used to be located in the Westgate Mall in Brainerd. Years ago he sold all of his businesses before moving to China, but has since returned.

He was hired to run the Jenkins store in July. He said he was once a bicycle enthusiast, but has no experience in selling bicycles.

"I have no professional experience whatsoever. It was simply my friend who was a triathlete that wanted someone to ride with. We were of equal physical condition but I knew nothing about bikes. He sold me his bike and we started riding," Dobbs said. "It was an immediate obsession."

In addition to selling bicycles, Crow Wing Cycleworks also offers bicycle rentals, bicycle repairs and even a free-to-use self-service shop.

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"We have a bike repair rack people can use. We have a master mechanic people can ask for advice, and there's no charge," Dobbs said.

Dobbs hopes that eventually the shop will be used as a gathering place for bicyclists where bike trips can start and end.

"This can be a launching location. We have all this space. People can park. Groups can start here. We are ever expanding. We want to be able to do workshops and classes. We want bike clubs to come here and utilize our space," Dobbs said. "We're here for them. I'm not looking for their money. I'm looking to be here for them. Hopefully we'll earn their loyalty and they'll see the savings and buy from us, but I am asking for nothing up front."

As a promotion, Dobbs plans to give away a black Marin bicycle Nov. 1. It is on display at the Pine River Information Center and registration to win the bicycle will be at Crow Wing Cycleworks.

Related Topics: JENKINS
Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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