Wheel & Sprocket
has encountered some hurdles in the making of its newest store and headquarters site, but the Milwaukee-based bicycle retailer says the Bay View location is finally ready to open to the public next month.
The 25,000-square-foot former foundry building at 187 E. Becher St. is home not only to Wheel & Sprocket's first city of Milwaukee location, but also a cafe, community event space, and local offices of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and tech startup Retail Toolkit.
An extensive renovation project had been in the works since Wheel & Sprocket purchased the then-vacant building in 2017. It had originally been slated to open early this year
, but the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way.
"Tackling the transformation of a 100-year old building involved many construction stages that were finally completed in October with ceiling soundproofing panels," said Kathy De Vries, director of marketing at Wheel & Sprocket.
The building's exterior now features two murals, one facing Becher Street that reads, 'Ride A Bike Around Milwaukee,' created by local artists Alison Galarza and Sydney Romero, and a mural of three bike riders by painter Ras’ammar Nsoroma near the entrance on Robinson Street.
"It's also been a booming year for bike sales and service which meant we wanted to make sure we had the bikes and gear to stock the store," said De Vries.
Demand for bikes and outdoor gear skyrocketed
at the start of the pandemic as people found new hobbies and ways to get active while stuck at home. As a result, bike companies and retailers across the U.S. have experienced product shortages.
The Bay View store is Wheel & Sprocket’s 10th location in Wisconsin. The company said it aims to welcome all "ambitions and abilities" by selling cycling products geared toward commuters, families and students, as well as micromobility devices such as electric scooters.
"We're excited to provide more options to bike safely around the city," said Amelia Kegel, vice president and co-owner. "Many of our staff live in this neighborhood and ride these streets. They relate to our customers and can help guide them to specific bikes and products helpful for commuting to the store, work, and getting around town."
The Joyide Cafe will serve coffee from small-batch roasters and rotating craft beer from local breweries. It will also sell casual bites from nearby Troubadour Bakery and Cedar Teeth Pizza.
All profits from the cafe will benefit the Chis Kegel Foundation
, which was established in honor of Wheel & Sprocket's late owner and president, Chris Kegel, who died in 2017. The foundation works to improve access to cycling in the Milwaukee area through events and programs. It also has an office at the Bay View facility.
Wheel & Sprocket plans to open a second Joy Ride Cafe at its Fox Point store this winter.
With the new bike shop, corporate headquarters (relocated from Hales Corners) and cafe, Wheel & Sprocket will have about 10 employees at its Bay View facility. Staffing is expected to increase during peak spring, summer, and fall months.
"We worked really hard on this project. It’s our forever home and we’re excited to welcome in our new neighbors and community for many years to come," said Kegel.
Russell LaFrombois, III was the project architect and and Project 4 Services was the genertal contractor.
The bike shop and Joy Ride Cafe will be open Monday to Friday noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Local COVID-pandemic guidelines on masks and occupancy are in effect.