After more than four decades operating as Turin Bicycle and then as Ten 27 Cycles, the independent bike store at 1027 Davis St. in Evanston will close this winter and reopen as part of a national chain.
Proprietor Chris Mailing took over as the majority owner of Turin Bicycle in 2004 and became sole owner in May. But Lee Katz, who opened the Evanston store in 1971 and co-owns a Turin Bicycle store in Denver, had the rights to the name.
Mailing found himself embroiled in a legal battle as he tried to tie his renamed Ten 27 Cycles to Turin in ads and on the business' website, using the old store name.
“It's just turned out to be a lot more difficult and a lot more expensive than I had expected at the outset," Mailing said. "There's just been a lot of uncertainty about how we relate our new brand to the old brand. I was spending a lot of money on legal fees and that's just not tenable.”
The legal fees required to use the Turin name proved too much for the store to absorb, given the weak economy he said.
“If the economy were robust and everything were hitting on all cylinders, maybe we could have handled all that," Mailing said. "We were sort of skating on thin ice to begin with. It's the better thing to do to just close things out and pay off our vendors and make sure we part ways with everybody on good terms.”
Ten 27 Cycles will close by the end of December, and until then the store is working to empty its inventory by offering 15 to 40 percent discounts on everything. On Tuesday afternoon, the store was filled with a mix of families with young kids, seniors and serious cyclists who had come to take advantage of the bargains.
“Things have been very lively," Mailing said. "It's good to get things off to a good start. As our inventory thins out, we'll probably discount things more. I think we've got a lot of good stuff going on now and people are excited.”
Space won't be vacant
Starting Jan. 1, 2013, Mailing will be leasing his space to a new bike shop owned by someone who operates bike stores outside of Illinois. Mailing and his staff will help get the shop running for the new owner, who isn’t yet ready to reveal the new name.
“I know that the people at the city were glad to hear that we wouldn't be some vacant storefront that's a blight on downtown," Mailing said. "Having another shop in here is going to be good for the city. I think the new shop owner is going to make the shop better for the customers and employees.”
Chicago resident Jonathan Weinberg received an email about the sale and came to buy a new bike and rack.
"I've gotten great service here," he said. "It's too bad a good business in a relatively upscale neighborhood can't stay in business."
Evanston resident Tom Hagglund, who lives near the store, said he's relieved that the space won't sit vacant. However, Hagglund said that he's sad to see the store he's been shopping at for five years close and be replaced by a bike store chain.
"It's the best stocked of all the bike shops I know of in Evanston," Hagglund said. "I've always enjoyed dealing with the people there. Large chain stores tend not to be as good as locally owned small businesses that get to know their customers."