New bike shop set to open in Bryson City
Bryson City is about to get a second bike shop with the grand opening of Tsali Cycles on May 23. Local cyclists Rob Acton, Chris Royce and Brad Gerard are teaming up to head the business.
“I think having a second bike shop in town is going to be good for the community,” Acton said. “You go to any other major trailhead across the country, and there’s way more than one bike shop.”
The trio has been tossing around the idea of opening a shop over the course of the last year, and they raised a small amount of money to make it happen. They’ve already been doing some repairs out of the new location on Slope Street in the downtown area, but on May 23 they’ll celebrate the official opening of the store.
The three are avid mountain bikers, and Royce and Gerard formerly worked as mechanics and bike trip leaders for the Nantahala Outdoor Center bike shop in the Nantahala Gorge.
“It’s time to step out and do it ourselves,” Acton said. All three have side businesses and pick-up odd jobs to support themselves as they grow the bike shop.
Bryson City is a popular stepping-off point for the nearby Tsali Recreation Area in the Nantahala National Forest, a mountain bike Mecca that’s attractive for its solitude, longer trails and accessibility to a spectrum of skill levels.
Bryson City is already home to Bryson City Bicycles, which was the first bike store to tap the growing mountain bike scene in Bryson City when it opened in 2009 and has been increasing its business every year. Nantahala Outdoor Center, also in Swain County, has a bike shop as well.
Tsali Cycles will combine Royce and Gerard’s skills as bike mechanics and Acton’s expertise in wine-making. In addition to bike sales, rentals and repairs, the business will feature a taproom and wineroom in the back, pending approval of the necessary permits.
“Taprooms are quite popular in bike shops,” Acton said. “We’re not the first one, but the wine room is a little bit of a twist.”
When he’s not biking, Acton makes his own wine, which he plans to sell at the shop. In addition to wanting to “take my winemaking to a more professional level,” Acton said, the point is to give locals and tourists alike a hangout as well as a bicycle-services destination.
“People in there aren’t specifically bikers,” Acton said of those who frequent wine rooms, “so if we can cater to a different crowd, we can help draw people from the Smoky Mountain Railroad and things like that.”
However, Acton also hopes to see Tsali Cycles take off with the locals and is looking forward to the business’s upcoming launch.
“I hope it will be successful with the local crowd,” he said.
Opening day at Tsali Cycles
What: Raffles, drinks and appetizers, beer and wine samples, 20 percent off all merchandise
When: 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 23
Where: Tsali Cycles, 35 Slope St., Bryson City
Contact: 828.488.9010, www.tsalicycles.com