Bike-shop owners keep community pedaling for 25 years

emoody@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 9, 2012 

From left, Scott Griswold, Ken Davis, John Feeser and Gary Thompson relax on Friday evening at Lowcountry Bicycles in Beaufort. The business, owned by Feeser, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

SARAH WELLIVER/STAFF PHOTO

In a little wooden frame on the office wall hangs the first dollar John and Jeni Feeser made at Lowcountry Bicycles.

That was 25 years ago.

"I'm addicted to helping people have fun," John Feeser said. "You get moms and dads in here with little kids, and I'm like a kid again. It's important to me to see the joy cycling brings to people."

He started working in a Spartanburg bike shop during college to pay his way toward a degree in early-childhood education. The couple moved to Beaufort in 1985 with the intention of opening their own business.

On Sept. 12, 1987, they started the original store and repair shop on Port Republic Street in downtown Beaufort, with a sign hand-painted by Jeni Feeser and one bike-repair stand.

In 2001, Lowcountry Bicycles moved to its current home on Sea Island Parkway, with almost three times the space of its first location. That original sign is still displayed inside the Lady's Island shop. The couple said it hasn't been easy carving out a niche for high-end and custom bicycles, but it' s been worth it.

"With the loyalty of the customer base and the good friends we have in town, Beaufort is our home," John Feeser said. "We're not going to move away, and I don't see myself doing anything else."

When they started, cycling was more casual recreation than organized road sport, the Feesers said. That changed over the past quarter-century. Mountain biking gained a following; Beaufort attracted a criterium, and pedaling to play and work became fashionable.

Plans to build a walking and biking path from Port Royal to the Whale Branch River -- and possibly beyond -- tell the Feesers that support for cycling will continue. John Feeser, who mans the shop daily, believes there will more bike paths and lanes.

"Cyclists themselves understand we have to set the example for everyone else," he said. "If we want respect, we have to stop at stoplights, stay in lanes, not zig in and out."

The "mom and pop" business is changing with the times, said Jeni Feeser, who recently earned a degree in web design. The store's website has expanded to showcase the array of brands carried, and Lowcountry Bicycles is on Facebook.

To celebrate the anniversary, Lowcountry Bicycles will have a sale and give away prizes from Wednesday until Sept. 19.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Related content:

If you've been thinking of pedaling to work, Friday is the day, May 15, 2008

Taking bicycle safety seriously, July 29, 2007

Lowcountry Bicycles

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