roll: to open a shop in Chicago

If all goes according to plan, roll: will open its first store outside Ohio in mid-April.

The bicycle shop’s fourth location will be in a 4,300-square-foot space on Clybourn Avenue in Lincoln Park, meaning its customer demographics and retail neighbors will be comparable to those at roll:’s Lane Avenue location.

“We feel very comfortable with our ability to serve the local community there,” says Stuart Hunter, owner of roll:.

Expanding into a new market seemed like a natural next step for the growing retailer.

roll-logo“With that familiarity and intersection of customer profile comes the added potential for further growth that a large city like Chicago affords,” Hunter says. “And at the end of the day, Chicago is a city we are personally very fond of and enjoy spending time in, which is a huge plus when you think about the fact that we’re going to be spending a lot of time there.”

roll:’s first store was located in a 2,400-square-foot space on Polaris Parkway that is now occupied by Carfagna’s. Then it moved to a 3,800-square-foot space on the north side of the street before finally settling into its current home, a 7,000-square-foot space that doubles as a shop and an office for the roll: support team.

To learn how what drives the entire roll: enterprise, how Hunter has worked to stay head of the curve, and his advice for business owners who are just starting out, keep reading.

The Metropreneur: What do you think makes roll: different from other bicycle shops?

Stuart Hunter: I think there are many things. Perhaps it’s best summed up by an unwavering commitment to improving the customer experience in every decision we make. It drives our entire business. From location strategy, store layout and design, hiring and compensation strategies, and even supplier agreements− the whole thing. Every decision goes through the customer filter first.

Tactically, it’s easy to point to unique aspects of our stores. One of the things I’m most proud of is the roll: perfect fit system. As part of our process, our system generates a 3D body map of the skeletal geometry of every customer, which we use to fit them first to the correct size of bike and then make all the fine height and length adjustments needed to fit their unique body geometry perfectly. It’s something absolutely unique to roll:.

It’s quick, completely painless, and free with every bike. I’m amazed how many people have had a poorly fitting bike in their life, which has almost turned them away from riding. We aim to fix that and invite people back into the sport.

[M]: How did you know it was time to move beyond Central Ohio?

SH: We’ve had a lot of focus on playing with the volume controls of size, format and location of stores in our business over the last few years. As we ran through 2012, it feels we’ve found our groove with three stores serving Columbus. Concurrently, we’ve also spent a lot of energy building out our store support team to better serve the business and allow our store teams more time to do what they do best, which is share a love of riding bikes with customers.

So as we turned back to growth, and with the support team in place, it felt natural to look for other cities where we could build on what we have created here in Columbus. A huge challenge, but one that the whole team is excited to tackle.

[M]: What’s the biggest business lesson you’ve learned since launching roll: in 2005?

SH: Great ideas, are just that: great ideas. But a great idea is not the same as a great business. Coming from a brand development and design background, getting our hands dirty in the other 80 percent of what builds a great idea into a great business, has been hugely challenging as well as hugely rewarding personally.

[M]: What advice would you give to a business owner who’s just starting out?

SH: You have to be willing to test your ideas, learn, adjust, eat a little humble pie, test again, play with the volume controls, dig deep, adjust, throw out your assumptions, trust your team, and be really, really honest with yourself. You have to really ask yourself, “Do I have the stomach for this?” But it’s a hell of a great ride.

[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?

SH: My five-year-old kicked my ass with a five move set piece checkmate I never even saw coming when he got home from school the other night. I’m sure there’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

To learn more about roll:, visit