Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Walk right in, pedal out


NKU team helps plan business

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Jason Reser never doubted that a bicycle shop could be a success in downtown Newport. Along the way he convinced the folks at Northern Kentucky University's Small Business Development Center.

Saw a niche
        Mr. Reser, 21, a Fort Thomas native who grew up and still resides in Milford, was the Kentucky and Ohio off-road bicycle racing champion in 1995-96. But he also developed a skill in repairing and merchandising bikes in six years at Bishop's Bicycles in Milford.

        “I felt there were a lot of niches (in bicycling) that weren't covered by other shops,” he said. “There were a lot of people in this area who bought bikes by mail order because they couldn't find what they wanted here, but they often were disappointed with delays and lack of service.”

        That led to the birth of Reser Bicycle Outfitters in the old bank building at Eighth and Monmouth streets in the heart of Newport's central business district.

        Mr. Reser carries everything from mountain bikes for the kids to $4,200 hand-made Colnago Italian racing bikes.

Sought advice
        Because this was the Moeller High School grad's first business endeavor, he approached officials at the Small Business Development Center at NKU for assistance.

        Sam Asmah, assistant director of the center, said he personally worked with Mr. Reser to analyze financial projections, make certain that his research was correct and that the location was good for the project.

        “The people at the center weren't sure at first that the old bank building was the best place for me, but I used information from the city about how the area is changing, and they agreed with me that this was the right spot,” Mr. Reser said.

The money angle
        Mr. Asmah also assisted Mr. Reser in locating potential pitfalls and determining that he had adequate financing to see him through the early days of the business.

        “We helped him with his presentation to the bank when he sought financing,” Mr. Asmah said.

        “He attended our workshops on subjects like accounting and legal ramifications. He was very diligent about doing everything. He set up a timetable and met it.”

Hands-on help
        Mr. Reser is assisted in the repair side of the business by 41-year-old fellow bike racer Syd Smith, an engineer specializing in hydro geology who said he is looking for a career change.

        “Jason and I met through the (bike) riding community,” Mr. Smith said. “I've been riding all my life, including racing. I thought this (bike repair) would be a good thing to try while I'm looking at other career opportunities.”

        Mr. Reser said he has had a number of customers compliment his location. In the past, they had been forced to drive longer distances to buy a bike or obtain repair and service.

Easy access
        “We're central to a lot of areas, including downtown Cincinnati,” he said. “Most of the specialty bike shops are in suburban locations. And some other stores that sell bicycles don't offer any service.”

        Newport Main Street Coordinator Eric Avner said the bicycle shop is exactly the type of new business the city wants to attract.

        “As the business district changes and grows, I think we'll see a lot more specialty businesses coming here,” he said.

       



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- Walk right in, pedal out