In December 2019, the ThriveNorth program successfully completed its five-year mandate. Managed by Futurpreneur Canada, the program helped young entrepreneurs in Northern B.C. launch and grow their businesses by connecting them with resources, financing and mentorship.

 

Cole and Charles share a love for nature, adventure, and life outdoors. This led them to work in Natural Industry jobs that took them out of town for weeks and months on end, but it was the closer community connection they craved that brought them closer to home and to life as small business owners.

 

Together they started Chucky’s Cycle Shop, a mobile bicycle repair service that travels the North Coast to provide mechanical support and parts for cyclists.

 

Read on to learn from Cole how the Prince Rupert couple drew on their passion for their community to start a business.

 


 

How would you describe Chucky’s Cycle Shop?

 

Chucky’s Cycle Shop is this white van living outside our house. Inside this van, on most nights and all weekends, is a man surrounded in tools and grease and bicycles, who is ready to talk shop whenever the truck doors are open!

 

Where did the idea come from?

 

Charles came to me with the idea of opening a Mobile Bicycle Shop three years ago. Secretly I thought he was crazy!

 

I, personally, am what cyclists refer to as a commuter – I use my bike to get from A to B. Then I realized that I didn’t know enough to change my own tire, or that my chain even needed oil. And it dawned on me that this could actually work!

 

At the time the Cycle Shop idea was brewing, a bike shop in Smithers was closing down. This provided an opportunity to acquire all the right tools for the business. In the same year, Prince Rupert lost its long-time outdoor gear shop, providing the opportunity and market to open up shop.

 

Is there something that prompted you to leave what you were doing and enter the business world?

 

After starting a family eight years ago, we were both in search for employment options that would allow us to stay home and be with our family. It was also important for us to become more integrated within our community. After being unavailable to ourselves and our community for over 10 years, we craved a closer connection to the place where we both grew up.

 

 

You must have a special connection with your community!

 

Prince Rupert is a natural home for us. We both grew up here, adventured here for most of our younger years, and Northern B.C. is overflowing with opportunity. In the last decade we have seen a shift of economy from natural resource based to tourism based, and with this the adventure market blew up.

 

Our combined love of outdoor nature and adventure led us down this road. The act of building your own business is not easy, but Charles took this as a challenge to improve our quality of life.

 

What have you found particularly challenging about starting a business?

 

For me, the idea of being self-employed is terrifying. The weight of financial risk is heavy when family is involved, so it was a struggle to balance day jobs that provided us with that security in our early years of business.

 

The day we bought the truck I was in awe because that’s when I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is actually happening.”

 

The idea of being your own boss is dreamy, but the reality is that there is always something else that can be done, so it is quite tricky to walk the line of upholding a standard of service while not burning out.

 

Today, we are in the third season of Chucky’s Cycle Shop and we see the growth and it is exciting!

 

How did you get your business off the ground?

 

ThriveNorth and Futurpreneur have been huge in this venture. In the early days, when my mind was full of doubt and questions about running a business, I found myself at a coffee shop in Prince Rupert listening to mentors and new business owners describe their own challenges and wins. This initial meeting gave me the resources, encouragement and connections to move forward.

 

This meeting turned into workshops and ThriveNorth was able to directly help us connect with Thule Ltd., a large supplier of bicycle attachments and accessories, which was awesome to help expand our supplier list.

 

How do you keep your business growing and succeeding?

 

I always say some people work to live, and others live to work. Charles and I have always been the latter. We take our jobs to a personal level and are never able to completely walk away. We get involved. We are passionate. We don’t go home on the weekends. This is what small business owners are made of.

 

What’s one piece of advice you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

 

A huge side of business is paperwork. If at all you are thinking of going into business for yourself, make sure you have your paperwork in order. Get a good accountant and keep up on the bookkeeping. Seeing things on paper will give you the confidence and security to move on.

 

What’s the best thing about being a business owner?

 

Today our street is riddled with kids biking for hours in circles, coming to Charles with flat tires and broken chains. This is what makes the bike shop worth it. He is creating a community. He doesn’t make running a bicycle repair shop seem like work. Charles has definitely changed our quality of life.

 


 

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