Business Profile

The business of bikes

by Patrick Flanagan

Hub City Cycles hits the ground running through small-business center opportunity.

The business of bikes
Hub City Cycles hits the ground running through small-business center opportunity.
By Kari Walker
Photos by Robin May**

Since her college years at UL Megan Arceneaux has loved bicycles - she became a collector of old bikes found at garage sales and spent time rehabbing them into something worth riding again. Arceneaux became a regular customer at Johnson's Bicycles for parts to mend her fixer-uppers and found friendship and a mentor in shop owners Ray and Johnny Johnson. The Simcoe Street business was her go-to place for all things bike and answers to the tough repair questions from Ray. (In 2008 Arceneaux and many others lost that local bike shop connection when the Johnson brothers retired.)

Arceneaux kept up her hobby while working in another local bike shop, thinking one day she could turn her passion into a paycheck with her own small business. In the summer of 2013 the opportunity to do just that presented itself when she found a space for a bike shop Downtown and prepared a business plan for potential investors of Hub City Cycles. During the process Arceneaux sought out the resources of Chris Chapman at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center and soon fell into excellent fortune thanks to a suggestion by Chapman to enter a local small-business startup competition designed to give a business owner a wealth of tools at no cost.

"I gave Chris my business plan, and after reading it he told me I should enter it in a small business competition that LSBDC was organizing; my plan was chosen out of 60 others to be presented along with three other finalists," says Arceneaux.

She presented her plan in front of a panel of business experts for over an hour and in the end walked away the winner of a small-business startup package complete with website and logo design, more than $8,000 to spend in advertising, membership to the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and other incentives designed to give Arceneaux the means to launch her dream. In October 2013, Hub City Cycles opened on Vermilion Street in the Tribune building (the space most recently occupied by Recycled Cycles).

The wealth of resources may have given Arceneaux a financial advantage, but she attributes the rise in her shop's success to the service she and her team deliver to customers. Arceneaux serves as the smiling face behind Hub City Cycles and can be found in her shop helping customers select a new bike or get their current ride up to par with repairs (expect to be greeted by Arceneaux's friendly pup, Williana, too).

Travis Conques is Arceneaux's head mechanic, and even her mentor Ray Johnson can be found helping with repairs of older bikes and bringing the past of Lafayette business back to life with tales of his Simcoe shop days. Hub City Cycles also works with customers looking to trade in an older bicycle for an upgrade.

"We're not trying to pressure anyone into buying a bike," Arceneaux says. "If the customer already has a bike we will encourage them to fix that one up first. If they are ready for a new bike we will even buy their old one or give them credit toward their new ride."

"Since we opened in October our business has grown every month. We are seeing more people from around the community getting into cycling," Arceneaux continues.

Hub City Cycles carries several brands of bicycles but also has some interesting custom bikes built by Conques that reflect Lafayette and Acadiana - Evangeline Maid, Borden's, Community Coffee and the Acadian flag have all been crafted into a two-wheeled piece of art for any bike enthusiast looking for an extra aesthetic touch.

Hub City Cycles is where people come to share their passion for bikes. Says Arceneaux, "[We] want people to come in and look around, and if they don't see exactly what they're looking for then we can sit down in our bike lounge and talk about and create the best bike for them."