WanderBikes is an electric bike (e-bike) store that has just opened its doors in the Wicker Park Bucktown Neighborhood. They are located at 2350 N. Damen Ave., and have the only shop in Chicago dedicated exclusively to e-bikes. They carry e-bikes that are equal parts fun and function while catered to the Chicagoan. Through rentals, sales and service, we hope to displace as many car trips as possible.
WanderBikes is the partnership of brothers Brady and Damon Doerschuk. Since childhood we have had a fascination with 2-wheel movement and recently decided to parlay that into a new business venture.
Where did you get the inspiration to open your business?
Brady: I’ve lived and worked in Chicago for a few years. I’ve always been agitated and perplexed with how traffic moves (or doesn’t move). I like to bike, but sometimes it’s not feasible. E-bikes are the answer, they’ve evolved from being a novelty for some to being the answer for many. Your not stuck in traffic, you are the traffic.
Damon: I love riding on 2-wheels. Pedal propulsion is fun but so is mechanical. E-bikes are very dynamic in that they are able to merge muscle and mechanical input, old and new; I think it’s great as well as promising. I believe e-bikes have a place in our transportation cache, as they are a capable and efficient means of traversing a city.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?
Brady: Still learning. Maybe learn to be more patient. I’ll rush something or push what I feel is a priority – only it turns out to be a molehill I’m sweating over.
Damon: Yep, nothing happens as quickly as you want it to. Plan ahead and pay attention to the details.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago?
Brady: Don’t seek feedback from just your friend’s - listen to random people.
Damon: Similar to Brady’s answer, talk to as many people as you can, seek mentorship. The SBA’s SCORE program has been really helpful; they have a great team of advisors. Know your product, learn your market try and have a little fun.
What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering?
Brady: The idea that you can get to anywhere in the city noticeable quicker than it takes in a car.
Damon: I’m really looking forward to developing our rental product. I think it has a lot of potential to provide a service that can be both entertaining and purposeful.
What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown?
Brady: It’s a vibrant, diverse and bicycle friendly community. I have everything I want and need right here.
Damon: Bike lanes and blue line. I like the location within Chicago, if you want to explore or get around, seems to be a great starting point.
What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without?
Brady: Have you seen the new bikes lane on Milwaukee Ave?
Damon: Toast on Damen.
What kind of people are your customers?
Brady: All walks of life. That’s the beauty and challenge of selling e-bikes, they appeal to a broad market. Young riders looking for a more cost effective means of transport, long commuters, families with kids and cargo, tourists looking to explore the city, riders with mobility issues. The customer base is certainly varied, but tends to be non-traditional cyclists.
What can people expect when they walk in your front door?
Brady: I know “family owned” might be a bit cliché but that’s exactly what you’re getting, hence the reason we’ve been coined the WanderBoys. You’re getting the family package, two brothers who are two-wheel enthusiast sharing their passion. WanderBikes is our baby and I think the customers will experience that quickly. Weather you’re just curious or have done some serious e-bike research, we invite you in and are welcome to stay as long as you’d like. Also, a 3rd WanderBoy (Tyler) will be joining us as soon as he returns from Afghanistan. For some reason, the 4th WanderBoy is content living on the West Coast.
High customer satisfaction is an ambition for most industries and we’re no different. However, this is our main objective and WanderBikes aspires to this virtue. We’re confident the e-bikes will speak for themselves but know the next e-bike you rent or buy is going to be handled or maintained by a family that prides itself on offering a true, tangible value for the neighbor.
Do you have a great story about your business that you’d like to share?
Brady: Don’t get carried away about your new business when you’ve had more than a few too many drinks.
Do you have any stories of successful cross-promotions that you have done with other local businesses?
Brady: Not yet but it’s in the works. Anyone reading this?
What ways has the Chamber been helpful to building your business?
Brady: Since we’re so new it’s too early to say. They have a good reputation and are very active. From what I can tell, I think they really care about the community and want to see/help you succeed.