By Margaret Townsend
Alexandria, VA – Ron Taylor, the owner of Wheel Nuts Bike Shop, opened for business almost 24 years ago. At that time, the competitive cyclist worked with the Fairfax County Park Authority and as manager of First Street Fitness in Old Town North.
Many of Taylor’s fitness clients knew of his background in cycling. They often solicited advice on local bike shops, but in the late 1990s, there was no shop to recommend.
When Taylor saw that a 1940s era Sunoco station on the corner of N. Washington and Montgomery streets was being converted into a dry cleaner, he thought this might solve the bike shop problem. With the help of family and friends, Ron transformed the service bay into the first incarnation of Wheel Nuts Bike Shop.
Taylor purchased several used bikes to fill his shop, set up a small repair area, used an old wooden door as a workbench, and revived his father’s 1960 Sears compressor. Soon after, neighborhood children began asking if Taylor would fix their bikes; their parents soon followed.
After a year or so, one of Taylor’s loyal customers asked for help finding a new bike. Taylor reached out to a bike manufacturer and began to stock new bikes for sale while still renting and repairing bikes and holding his job at the fitness center.
The shop soon experienced a growth spurt. So Taylor upgraded to a space in the Montgomery Center, quit his job at the fitness center, and hired his first full-time employee, one of the children who had first frequented the shop.
Today, Ron Taylor has five employees and a loyal fan base. He has been selected three times as one of America’s Best Bike Shops by the National Bicycle Dealer’s Association and an Eco-Friendly Business of the Year by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce. The shop grew even more when the pandemic hit as locals searched for socially distant outdoor activities.
The effects of the pandemic have been complicated mixtures of growth and depletion and success and failure, but for Taylor and his wife and co-owner, Trina, the shop continues to run as smoothly as their bikes ride, and they hope it continues down this road.