Back in 2001, Al Lepak was having trouble finding a space to rent for the bike shop he wanted to open.
“We got turned down by a number of landlords,” he said.
When the then-24-year-old with no prior business experience finally did find someone who would take a chance on him, it proved to be a gamble that paid out for both sides.
Today, Global Bikes, located on the northeast corner of Gilbert and Guadalupe roads, is one of the longest-running original tenants at its strip mall, growing from its original 1,200-square-foot space to a shop that now occupies 5,500 square feet. Lepak also opened three additional locations throughout the East Valley.
Goods and services
Global Bikes sells a variety of bicycles and bike accessories and also operates a full-service repair shop. In addition to the more traditional cruisers, Global Bikes sells electric bikes, or e-bikes, which operate like a normal bicycle but with an electric motor to assist riders as they pedal.
Global Bikes also offers free classes and clinics and oversees the nonprofit organization Trips For Kids Phoenix, which was founded by Lepak’s wife, Brandee, five years ago.
“We take underprivileged and disadvantaged youth mountain biking,” Lepak said. “We have a fleet of bikes, and my wife heads that up. All of the shops work in conjunction with her to make it happen.”
Lepak said he always had an entrepreneurial spirit and started saving for his first business when he was 15 years old. His original plan was not to go into the cycling industry, however.
“I made up my mind that I’m going to open a business, and it’s not going to be a bike shop,” he said. “It’s not an easy business. It’s one of the last man standing as far as an independent retailer.”
But when the time came, Lepak, who took up cycling in junior high, said he thought it best to stick with what he knew.
“It was the right decision, but it probably wasn’t the easiest one,” he said. “But I’ve always loved cycling, and I love the industry.”
835 N. Gilbert Road, Ste. 111, Gilbert
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.