In 1993, Fred Hewett became the original manager of Bike Works on South Hiawassee Road in MetroWest.
This year, on Aug. 7, Hewett bought the bike shop after almost two decades since he last managed it.
“I recently bought the former Bike Works on South Hiawassee after the previous owners decided to retire,” Hewett said. “I have renamed it Full Circle Cycle, due in large part that I was the original manager of this same store starting in 1993 and ran it for four years.”
Hewett said he had met his wife while he had been the manager of Bike Works, before greater career opportunities arose for him.
“She worked at the hair salon in the same center, and we met at the Publix,” Hewett said. “I went on to manage the whole Bike Works chain of stores for a few years, then joined Specialized Bicycles, a major bike manufacturer, as a sales rep for 15 years.”
When the former owners announced that they were retiring and selling the shop, Hewett jumped at the opportunity, he said.
“I just love bicycles,” Hewett said. “Some of my earliest memories are from riding or working on bicycles, from as young as three. I’ve been fortunate to be getting paid in this industry for about 35 years now. Bicycles are just fun.”
It was the right time to buy a bike shop because the bicycle business is doing well trajectory-wise, he said.
“It’s still up and coming — there’s still a lot of potential here,” Hewett said. “It was a little personal. I was the manager here and built it out myself. I went on to manage a couple other Bike Works stores. The opportunity came up, and this was my first child, if you will. I put a lot of effort into it all those years ago, and I couldn’t see it close down. I saw the opportunity there to get my baby back.”
His baby has grown and gone through some awkward teen years before trying to find itself in its early 20s.
“One of the changes we made was to bring in a larger selection of product,” he said. “The store over the years had really gone downhill, to be frank. The old owner was close to retirement and let it run.”
But now, Hewett is trying to better reach more consumers and the customers who have been visiting the shop since it opened, based on his experience.
“Information and technology have taken three or four leaps ahead of everything,” he said. “Everyone’s plugged in, more informed. I definitely have (seen changes in) the technology of the bikes and better-informed consumers. Bikes have gotten lighter; consequently, they’re faster, sportier. There’s lots of choices available now. Bikes are a little more segmented to a particular purpose.”
Hewett said personal attention to each customer and selection of products were two key reasons Full Circle Cycle would rebuild and become a premier destination in the cycling industry.
“I’ve given folks a good selection of product to look through,” he said. “I’ve helped give (the staff) a little more training than they received before. It’s just been a matter of trying to reconnect to the community.”
Part of that reconnection will involve group rides at 7:30 each Saturday morning, as well as outreach, such as bike safety classes among first-graders at local elementary schools, he said.
“I just did one for the Teach-In Wednesday (Nov. 19) at MetroWest Elementary,” Hewett said. “The last one I did there was in 1994, which was featured in the West Orange Times.”
Hewett has kept that article, which might get some new company in its display, to show how Hewett and the bike shop have come full circle.
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].