Going Local: Vitesse Cycle Shop
“Constitution Trail has been a big benefit to biking and to bike sales,” said Chris Koos, owner of Vitesse Cycle Shop in Normal. Chris started working at Vitesse in 1977. He eventually became a partner and is now sole owner of the business. Originally, Vitesse was part of a larger ownership group and had three locations: two in Wisconsin and one location in Normal. In 1976, one store was closed and the remaining two were sold to local store managers.
Chris served in the Army (1968-71) and had a tour of duty in Vietnam. Upon returning he graduated from Illinois State University and grew interested in bikes when he started working full-time at Vitesse.
“For over 20 years we were located at the corner of Linden & College, next to Pub II,” said Chris. The business relocated to its current location at 206 S. Linden St. in Normal in 1995. “When a local running store went out of business, we saw the need for a running shoe store and we opened our sister store Often Running,” continued Chris. Today the two stores have 12 employees and about 6,000 sq. ft. of retail and service space.
Often Running, managed by Mitch Hobbs, has many loyal customers across all age ranges who visit the store for personal service. Often Running also has a great relationship with a number of junior high and high schools, showcasing new products to students at cross country and track meets.
“Singles speed bikes have been very popular for the past 8-9 years,” said Chris. This is especially true in the 18 to 25-year-old age group. Vitesse (which means “speed” in French), exclusively offers Trek bicycles but has offered many brands throughout the years.
“We have carried Sekai, Motobecane, Raleigh, Viner, Panasonic, Bridgestone, Specialized, Nishiki, Diamondback, LeMond, Cannondale, Gary Fisher, Giant and of course, Trek. Even 30 years later, we still see these vintage bikes return to our shop, still proudly wearing a Vitesse sticker” said Chris.
“The most challenging part of our business is that we are very busy for about nine months of the year and then slow for about three months,” said Chris. The store is most active from March to October.
While maintaining his passion for cycling, Chris has also been Mayor of the Town of Normal for the past 15 years. “I say being Mayor is a part-time job with full-time expectations,” says Chris.
For more information on Vitesse Cycle Shop visit www.vitessecycle.com