Crain's - After the startup phase, the next big challenge is marketing

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SURPASSING EXPECTATIONS

Heritage Bicycles, a Chicago bike manufacturer and store that opened in early 2012, has succeeded without much advertising or marketing. When Michael Salvatore and his wife, Melissa, opened the Heritage Bicycles General Store in Lakeview, they expected to sell 10 to 15 bikes in their first year. They ended up selling 100. People as far away as Sweden and Australia have purchased bicycles from their website.

Mr. Salvatore, 32, thinks the bikes have sold well because of their craftsmanship and design. And the decision to include a cafe in the shop has drawn a regular stream of visitors, he says. That in itself is a sort of marketing.

“People feel comfortable around the shop. They can see us,” Mr. Salvatore says. “They come in for the cafe. But the next time they need a bike or the next time they need bike work done, who are they going to go to—the bike shop they go to every three years, or somebody they see every day? That's played a really important role with our trust factor.”

Heritage opened its own off-site bike-welding facility in January and recently signed a lease for a kids-oriented Heritage Littles shop in Lincoln Square, which is scheduled to open in August.

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