Electric bike shop shows Franklin a new way to ride
Pedego Franklin Electric Bikes
Kem and Bob Harris, Owners
104 E. Main St., Franklin
In some ways, the past two years have been like a never-ending vacation for Kem and Bob Harris.
They discovered e-bikes on a trip out west, and three months later opened their own shop in downtown Franklin. They are the only Pedego dealer in the area.
Bicycling has always been a way of life for them, and now their e-bike shop is open seven days a week. According to their website, e-bikes make cycling accessible to 98% of the population, who otherwise would not biking.
The Harrises buy and sell e-bikes and offer daily bike rides. They are currently located on Main Street, but on November 1 they will be moving to a larger space at 234 Fifth Ave. NOT.
How did you get interested in electric bikes?
We were on vacation in September 2014 and came across Lake Tahoe Bikes. They had a store like ours where you could rent bikes or buy bikes and ride around. We rented one and fell in love with it. I came home and said, “Hey, can’t we get one in Franklin?”
How long did it take to decide to open his own shop and then how long did it take to get it up and running?
As soon as we got home we started to make contact with the Pedego company and went back to California and met them in Irvine. In December, we signed a contract and started to open our store in January (2015). In the meantime, we were looking for a place.
What was the initial response?
E-bikes are a bit new to this part of the country, so when we first opened there were only two types of customers. One knew all about them because they were in the market for an e-bike, and the other customer was, “What’s an e-bike?” They were curious to stop and see what they were. It was the majority of people.
Why do you think e-biking hasn’t been as widespread here in the south or the east coast so far?
I’m not really sure. More and more brands are hitting the market every day. Or all the time. I wouldn’t say every day, but there are more brands, and I guess what we’ve noticed is a lot of people moving here with Pedegos. They had their bikes before they moved here and bought them somewhere out west, usually.
How much of your business is made up of people looking to buy an e-bike rather than rent one and maybe take a tour that you offer Franklin?
I’d say it’s about 50/50, or close enough, anyway. Your tourists obviously stop by to rent, but you also have your young locals who are regular customers, so when they have family or friends in town, they always bring them back. Then we have people crossing borders and buying the bikes because like I said earlier there aren’t a lot of e-bike shops that carry Pedegos in the eastern United States and in the central part of the United States. You will find more along the east coast than you will go inland. We are the closest dealer to them, so they come here.
Are there stories of customers, like you and your husband, who have rented a bike and fallen in love with it? And then bought a bike before leaving?
People will tell you, you’ve ridden it once and you’ll fall in love with it. You just want to keep rolling. If I have a new customer and I have a customer here who has bought a bike before, I don’t need to say a word. The customer who owns the bike will just start telling him everything.
You said everyone gets them for different purposes.
Some have had it for leisure. In other words, they buy them for recreation or for transportation or for health reasons, but every time they ride a bike, they get all three.