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Q&A with John Cameron
Game Changers Bike Partner, president of Coastal Triathlon Club, and Coastal Greenway Project board
Georgia Game Changers Bike and Multisport staff, from left: Manager Mark Bevars, team member Chris Cousineau, partner Ryan Peters, team members Marie Caquias and Trudi Franzel, with partner John Cameron.

Q: What is the most exciting part about opening a bike shop in Richmond Hill?
A: We have had many people thank us and tell us how glad they are that we are here. Hearing their comments has been very encouraging. Many are tired of driving to Savannah and fighting the traffic to pick up cycling supplies or dropping off their bikes for repairs. Also, it is impossible to go a day without seeing residents running, cycling or enjoying outdoor activities here in Richmond Hill, so the fit for a bicycle store is very natural. Lastly, we have been able to create jobs for our staff. Mark Bevars, our store manager, has always dreamed of running a bike shop. In fact, Mark was telling me he woke up Saturday and had to pinch himself to make sure it was real. Chris, Trudi and Marie are absolutely stoked about the store. We are very proud of being able to provide an avenue for them to share their passion with those who enter our doors. Our “game changing” staff is the best around.

Q: What should the community know about Game Changers Bike and Multisport?
A: This: It embraces all types of cycling. From toddler-balance bikes to triathlon and everything in between, you will see we embrace all occasions. We carry swimming gear, apparel and cutting-edge nutrition products. We also have a full-service repair shop capable of taking on any job. Our kids’ trade-in, trade-up program grows with the child. Customers who purchase a kids’ bike from us can trade it in when their child outgrows it toward their next bike. We celebrate the athlete in everybody and realize that everybody has different levels of experience. Nobody should be afraid to come in and ask questions. We have plenty of experience in-house to help people reach their goals, however large they want them to be.

Q: What are the services available to the community?
A: We plan to host group rides, family educational clinics like basic flat repair, basic maintenance, product expos and demonstrations, and we have plans to put on a fully supported cycling charity ride next year. We are also working with the YMCA on hosting a beginner Triathlon this August. Check our website or Facebook page for more details.

Q: What are the plans for building a stronger biking community?
A: Some of the frustrations and concerns aired by customers over the last few days is that they don’t believe the city of Richmond Hill has done enough to show that the city is truly cycling friendly. They want the signage that you would typically see in other bike-friendly cities such as “Watch for Cyclists,” “Bike Route” and other cycling-related signage to help get the message to motorists that cycling is strongly supported here. They want more bike lanes like those you see on the Harris Trail extension. Our goals of group rides, races and cycling-related events will help significantly, but a stronger biking community really needs to be embraced by the community as a whole in order to make the biggest impact. Statistics show that bike-friendly cities have significantly increased their tax revenue. According to People for Bikes, customers who travel to stores on a bicycle shop more often and spend up to 47 percent more over the course of a year than they would when traveling to a store by car. Studies published on the People for Bikes website show that bike-friendly cities have higher property values, healthier residents and increased resources due to the expanded tax base that comes with a bike-friendly city. The economics of bike-friendly cities are proven. This is why you see cities like Savannah and Atlanta ramping up cycling infrastructure and boosting cycling awareness in a bigger way. Bike tourism is increasing, and we have some terrific sites to ride to. The Coastal Greenway project is a large network of trails connecting the Carolinas to Florida, and part of it will come right through Richmond Hill. We plan to lead the charge and engage the city to see how we can work together to improve the overall image of cycling here in the Hill.

Q: Why team up with Game Changers? What was the deciding factor in that decision?
A: Game Changers is a true example of a retailer who fully embraces the possibility of a healthy, active community and the role they need to play in order to take health and wellness of the community to the next level. Their vision of helping people change their lives through running, and fitness is far greater than any sale. If you talk with Sandra, she will tear up talking about the results she has seen with her customers. Many life-changing results have happened, and many more are on their way because of the time she and her staff have taken with their customers. We met with them several times throughout the process, and the fit just continued to evolve to where we could not see us partnering with anybody else. The Game Changers Health and Fitness complex will truly be a terrific resource for the coastal area, and Richmond Hill is very blessed to have this come to life.

Q: Where do you see Game Changers Bike Shop in five years?
A: Game Changers Bike and Multisport will radically change the cycling scene and the overall health and wellness in Richmond Hill. From kids to adults, you will see many more riding around in neighborhoods, to schools and on bike paths and bike lanes. We would love to develop a high-school cycling team. We have plans to develop trails for off road biking, and we already sponsor Coastal Triathlon Club. Our repair shop will help get those broken-down bicycles out of the garage and back on the road, and many will spend their dollars with us than with Savannah or online. We will likely have to tear down a wall and increase our space. Many people have asked us to bring different outdoor-related items into our store, so we will see how that mix develops. Big plans for the future and we have the best people to help us get there.

Q: What have been the biggest obstacles in seeing this dream come to pass?
A: Weather has impacted construction plans a great deal. The overall project was very large, and having some delays would be expected on top of weather-related issues. This has moved us from opening in March to late May, so we really have not been able to identify our mix as early as we hoped. Also, many suppliers have run out of inventory or run low on inventory, being that we opened midyear. We have items on back order arriving over the next few weeks. The Game Changers slogan, “Don’t let a setback keep you from a comeback,” applies very well in our case. We could have put up shop somewhere else, but being at the Game Changers Health and Fitness complex is really where we belong. We persevered and pressed on to where we are today and are very excited about our future.

Q: Are there any special people you want to thank?
A: Our families have been very supportive and patient of the long hours put into the development of our business. They also realize that our work is really just beginning. We are very thankful for their support. When you have setbacks like we have experienced, your faith really comes into play. God has helped us find a way to bring this great store to life, and for that, we are most thankful.

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