Spot the Shop: Epic Cycles expands under new ownership
Epic Cycles has been in Black Mountain since 1999, and owner Michael Roberts has no intention of going anywhere.
The shop was started by Allan Hightower after a career at, first, Sun Rims in Indiana and then SunRingle when Sun Rims bought the biking company Ringle.
Roberts was living in South Carolina at the time of the purchase, but was hired by Hightower in 1995 to move to Indiana and travel across the country and Canada selling the newly formed SunRingle products.
Eventually, SunRingle was sold, and Roberts and Hightower found new jobs. For Hightower, this would be Epic Cycles in Black Mountain.
It was not until the pandemic hit that Roberts began working for Hightower again, this time at the Black Mountain store.
“I had gone back to school to get another degree and Allan needed help, so I started working with him again,” Roberts said, “During that time he had COVID and reexamined his priorities and decided he wanted to retire, so he just passed the torch.”
Roberts bought Epic Cycles from Hightower in 2021.
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He said moving from being an employee to owning his own business was not something new as he had worked for himself before. He said he had “always been in bicycles in one way or another,” and purchasing Epic Cycles just felt like an extension of that.
“It was a very, very smooth transition,” Roberts said. “It’s been a lot of fun, a little bit of a learning curve because I have to think ahead a little bit more now, but it’s been a blast.”
Roberts said the transition was smooth because Hightower believed in him and trusted him with the future of Epic Cycles.
“Allan and I have been friends for over 30 years,” Roberts said. “I really could not have done this without him.”
Roberts said the biggest struggle he has faced since buying the store is supply chain issues. He said he has to be more “creative” with how he sources parts now and communicate with his customers on managing their expectations on how long something can take.
He said making strategic hiring decisions has helped make the store more successful. Roberts said by hiring people with specific expertise, he is able to offer a wider selection of inventory to his customers.
Along with a greater inventory, Roberts has also opened a new shop in Hendersonville.
The Hendersonville store opened in January after Roberts purchased The Bicycle Company. He said this allows Epic Cycles to reach a broader customer base. Roberts said he is looking at a few more locations to continue to expand.
Despite this growth, Roberts said he is committed to not making the store “feel corporate.”
“I want to keep it the same mom and pop place that it’s been,” Roberts said. “I don’t want it to be stuffy or elitist or anything like that. I want it to be an enjoyable place where you can come in and look around where nobody’s pressuring you, but we also have the knowledge to answer your question.”
For Roberts, the best part of the job is meeting new people who come in and building relationships around town. He said Epic Cycles has had no bad customers.
“They’ve made me feel welcome from day one, and they gave us a shot when I was a little nervous,” Roberts said. “When the store transferred over and they gave us a shot, I think we responded well. I love these people. I won’t ever leave.”