How fun would it be to turn something you love and are passionate about into a second career? Jeff Nalley is one Suwanee entrepreneur that did just that.
Nalley is the owner of Suwanee Creek Bicycles, located on Buford Highway across from the Suwanee Creek Greenway trail-head. It is a full service bicycle shop that includes sales and repairs. If you visit, chances are you’ll find Nalley servicing a bike or helping a customer find the right equipment.
Nalley says the shop provides repair and assembly on any brand of bicycle and sells five different bike lines, including Scott and Fuji brands. Customers will find a wide range of bike types such as children's, comfort, mountain, and road-racing models. They also sell helmets, clothing, accessories, and athletic nutrition foods.
Nalley has always been a cycling enthusiast, but he only matched that hobby with business in recent years. Originally from west Kentucky, he spent 30 years in the construction equipment industry. He moved to the Atlanta area in 1988 following a job with a steel business. In 2006 Nalley sold his interest in the company, which gave him more time to pursue his cycling hobby.
He opened Suwanee Creek Bicycles on March 17, 2007, at its current location and has since expanded the store space from the original footprint. Sales initially started with two product lines and as the service business grew space became an issue. So when Nalley expanded, it was more to accommodate the service shop than new product sales. However, with the expansion Nalley was able to add additional brands to the new bike offering, which has helped to give a broader choices to customers.
“I don't travel as much as I used to, but I certainly put in more hours” says Nalley. “It's an extremely active cycling community. We service customers from Suwanee, Johns Creek, Duluth, Lawrenceville, and really greater Gwinnett.” He says it requires a lot of common sense and patience to run your own business.
The shop is also a meeting place for local riders. They meet on Saturdays at 8:30 in the morning for a for 22-mile ride, which usually takes them about an hour and half. During the warmer season they also meet on Thursday evenings. If the temperature is below 35 degrees they will not ride.
Nalley likes the plans from Suwanee community developers to increase the amount of planned space for bicycles and pedestrians. “Any infrastructure the city puts in to support cycling is good for us,” Nalley says. Suwanee and Gwinnett residents can see the latest plans from the city in the February Cross Roads Newsletter on page 4.
This will be the fourth year Suwanee Creek Bicycles has sponsored the Tour De Cure for the American Diabetes Association. The last two years they were the top recruiting shop for team members in the Georgia race, and last year the team raised about $8,000 dollars for the cause.
“Our best advertising is definitely community involvement,” says Nalley. He knows that not everyone who walks in the store is an expert on bicycles. “Sometimes customers have educated me. But we have to be ready to match our customers with the bicycle that matches their need.”