Spokane Journal of Business

Spirit Lake electric bicycle shop relocates in wake of city sewer issues

Retailer opts to move rather than build due to construction ban

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A retailer in Spirit Lake, Idaho, has found a way to expand despite a citywide moratorium on new building construction.

Marc Kroetch, owner of Fresh Air E-Bikes, opened the business three years ago after he took his first ride on an e-bike, a bicycle powered or partially powered by an electric motor. Depending on the model, an e-bike can reach speeds of almost 30 mph.

Kroetch had purchased a nearby site for customers to use as a test ride area, with the intent to build a new e-bike shop. That plan, however, has been put on hold, he says.

“Two years ago, the city of Spirit Lake had some phenomenal growth going on in the residential end of building, like everywhere in North Idaho and eastern Washington,” he says. “(Last summer), they found out that they had reached maximum capacity for our sewer treatment plant so they put a freeze on all new construction until they can receive gray water out at the expanded sewer treatment plant.”

Kroetch decided instead to move Fresh Air E-Bikes from the second floor of the building he owns at 6249 W. Maine Street to the building next door, at 6259 W. Maine.

“We decided that if we’re going to catch this economic wave and the interest in the market of electric bikes, then we’ve got to do something to get out on Maine Street,” Kroetch says. “Lo and behold, the first day we were in the new building just patching holes and painting the walls, we sold two bikes without even trying.”

Kroetch says e-bikes are gaining popularity, especially among older populations. 

“All of our customers are between 58 and 80 years old,” Kroetch says. “I’d say a good third of them are recovering from some kind of injury or knee or hip replacement.“

Kroetch says Fresh Air E-Bikes pulled in about $250,000 in sales last year.

“The first year, we sold five bikes; the second year we sold 50 bikes, and this year, we sold over 100 bikes by July 31,” he says. “These bikes have been available in other countries for years; they’ve just been slow to be adopted in North America.”

Fresh Air E-Bikes carries a number of brands, including Raleigh, iZip, and Haibike. Prices start at $1,600. 

Kroetch says that when the ban on new construction is eventually lifted, he’ll proceed with building a new shop for Fresh Air E-Bikes that will also serve as an information center for tourists and will rent out small retail spaces to local artisans for the summer months. 

Virginia Thomas
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Reporter Virginia Thomas has worked at the Journal since 2017 and covers the health care industry. As a reporter, she loves learning about Spokane's many growing industries. She enjoys travelling with her husband, snuggling with her cats, and cross stitching.

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