The late Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and fellow Kentuckian John Ed Pearce may have said it best: “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”
However, Parkside Bikes owner Ben Botkins did not wait to grow old before heading back to Louisville, particularly to the Highlands neighborhood.
“I missed the Highlands and I missed Cherokee Park,” says Botkins, a lifelong cyclist. “People ask me all the time why I moved back from Breckenridge, Colo., or Park City, Utah. I’ve lived in world-class ski resorts but I just missed Cherokee Park.”
So, in 2008, he packed up his cycling gear and headed home. After arriving in Louisville, Botkins opened shop at 1345 Bardstown Road. With only 600 square feet, he dealt mostly in used bicycles. But soon he found that his business model didn’t fit with his business philosophy.
“We want to be the most inviting retailer and the most accommodating retailer,” he says. “We hate having to tell someone ‘no,’ so we go to great lengths to have what they want when they want it.” In March 2012, that philosophy carried him a few doors down to his present location at 1377 Bardstown Road.
The store’s newer location not only has a used bike section and repair shop, but also sells new and used parts and accessories. They also carry biking apparel and new bikes ranging in price from $150 to $10,000, the higher end bikes available by special order.
“When we moved, we were able to do new, used and trade-ins, and broaden the needs of the neighborhood,” Botkins says.
Those needs fall right in line with his expanding philosophy. Before the big move in 2012, Botkins brought in Jef Meyers to help build not only the business but their community involvement.
“Before my son, Finn, was born, I wanted to grow, wanted to make an impact on this community, to make the big growth steps,” Botkins says. “[Meyers and I] had a meeting about how much positive impact we could have on the community in correlation to what we were doing.”