“Speed is king for us,” says Paul Calandrella, general manager at The Pro’s Closet (TPC) in Louisville.
He’s an avid biker — much like the rest of TPC’s staff — but he’s not talking about how fast he can spin gears on two wheels.
Calandrella is standing in TPC’s 130,000-square-foot space that quadruples as a bike retail outlet, refurbishment factory, vintage bike museum and digital retailer headquarters.
“If we have anything, we have space,” he says.
Roughly the size of your average Costco, there are scooters available for staff to ride from one end of the building to the other, saving time moving between hundreds of brands and thousands of models on site.
In one week, Calandrella oversees a staff of more than 100 who help move 1,000 bikes through a robust 141-point inspection refurbishment process.
“When we’re at a brisk run, we can move a bike from the bay door to being listed on our website in under two hours,” he says as someone whizzes by on a bike test-ride, the last step before it’s ready to sell.
In those two hours, staff completes all the refurbishment, photography, cataloging and boxing steps until the bike is ready for a consumer.
Calandrella says 80% of TPC’s total bike volume is purchased from consumers around the country in exchange for cash, in-store credit or dealer trade. Of those bikes, nearly all are completely refurbished in-house.
Internally, Calandrella says staff joke they’ve built the “Ferrari engine of refurbishment.”
“The faster we can do this, the less cost we put into refurbishing the bike and the better value to the customer on the other end,” he says, adding the present operation is a result of more than a decade of work.
Maria Uspenski bought her first bike from TPC in 2012 after her car broke down. Since then, she says she’s bought at least half a dozen bikes from them.
“Once you become a client there, you probably become a client several times,” she says.
A few days ago she traded in her road bike for a gravel bike.
She says the customer service, cycling advice and how easy it’s been to buy and trade bikes has kept her going back.
After perfecting the refurbishment process, TPC is now focused on the in-person customer experience and has been pilot testing its retail space for the last nine months.
Since moving to its facility in Louisville (1900 Taylor Ave.) just before the pandemic, the company hasn’t been able to flex its operation muscle to its full capacity.
Now, Calandrella is ready for TPC to become a gathering place for the cycling community.
On April 29 and 30, TPC’s Great Spring Breakaway event will offer a peek at TPC’s process and new retail space, in addition to prizes, food trucks and more.
“[We] want to welcome the Front Range riding community to come see what we do,” Calandrella says.
More than a bike shop
TPC was founded in Boulder by Nick Martin in 2006. At the time, Martin was living out of his van and posting refurbished bikes on eBay.
A pro cyclist himself, he brought his philosophy of keeping bikes in motion longer to TPC.
“Bikes are meant to be used,” the company motto goes.
For years, TPC was only an e-commerce company. Moving to a new space in Louisville three-and-a-half years ago not only let TPC expand its refurbishment operation, but also the Vintage Bicycle Museum.
The museum has more than 200 bikes on display, including bikes like John Tomac’s 1990 World Championship Yeti C-26, David Phinney’s 1984 Olympic Bike and Otis Guy’s 1978 Series I Breezer, one of the first mountain bike models.
“The historic museum sort of represents our ethos — we put a lot of value in customization,” says Calandrella. “The industry does well at scale to sell a lot of the same bike, and we try to celebrate the upgraded, the customized, the modified. We place the value on the rarities.”
Primarily Martin’s collection, bikes get sent to the facility from cyclists all over the country — and it’s still growing.
Martin collects other parts of cycling history too, as shown by the wall dedicated to the Coors International Bicycle Classic — an iconic race started by a Boulder-based company in 1975 that helped put cycling on the map in the U.S.
“It’s regularly surprising to me the distances people travel to get into our building,” Calandrella says, adding that people have flown in from across the country and driven from Oklahoma and Texas to pick up a bike from the shop. “It sort of demonstrates the curiosity and, to a degree, love for the brand.”
The company has been a beneficiary of the “bike boom” that brought a surge of new cyclists mid-pandemic and left consumers struggling to find new bikes. While those numbers have tapered off since, bicycle spending still remains above pre-pandemic levels nationally.
“More people on bikes is good in so many ways,” Calandrella says. “If we can help be a part of that, I’ll call that a win.”
Great Spring Breakaway Event: 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30, The Pro’s Closet,
1900 Taylor Ave., Louisville.