Kim Campanella, owner of Bicycle Center of Port Charlotte, never set out to own a business and never thought she was up for it. However, with the help and supportive push of a mentor, Campanella started her own business and grew it into the successful venture it is today.
"When I was 20, I sold used mopeds and scooters, and the mechanic who refurbished them for me was the original owner of the bike store," she said. "He gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. He offered to sell me the business buy making payments and strongly encouraged me to buy the business and took a chance on me when no one else would. He saw I was tenacious and he believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. I was so naïve about bicycles that I sold all my inventory of 10 bikes on the first day at the price of about $60 because those were the prices I'd seen in Wal-Mart. That night, I looked at my costs and saw they were $150 bikes."
Campanella learned quickly and has grown Bicycle Center into a superstore for anything cycling related, including sales and service on many makes and models, plus rentals, clothing and accessories. She started the business with $100 in 400 square feet and grew it to the 4,000-square-foot store it is today.
"We have the largest selection in the area and are the oldest store in the county," she explained. "In my store, the service is fast. If you need a tube fixed, we do it while you wait. We don't keep your bike for a week. If you have a bike sitting idle for a long time, we have a 30-point checklist we perform free while you wait so you know what's needed before leaving it with us. We educate the customers, showing them why they need what they need. We offer free tech clinics at no charge to the customer. They always know what the issue is before they leave and how to fix it if they choose to."
Campanella's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to persevere and stay motivated.
"Never give up," she said. "Always keep your goal in front of you. There will be many reasons you can't. People told me I was crazy and didn’t know anything about bikes, but if you have the desire and have a goal in front of you, don't let anyone deter you from that. Never stop believing. Never lose focus."
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