Meet Matt Rinella & Katie Fink of Freehub Bicycles Downtown…
Bikes. Beers. Coffee. Right along the Reedy River in the heart of Downtown Greenville. Sign us up! Before you trek into new Freehub Bicycles downtown location, you’ll definitely want to their owner and barista. That’s where we come in! Without further ado, let’s go meet the owner of Freehub Bicycles Matt Rinella and their downtown barista Katie Fink.
360: How did the idea of Freehub Bicycles idea come?
Matt: Freehub came about when Bikestreet went bankrupt in 2014. I had sold my shop to them and when they went out, I was able to return the Woodruff Road store within a few weeks of their departure. The shop on Woodruff has been in existence since 1999.
Katie: We have an ever growing customer base willing to drive from the outskirts of Greenville to our store on Woodruff Road. So we felt like we needed to reward that loyalty with a more convenient location to those customer’s who live closer to Downtown. We all know what traveling on Woodruff Road can be like if you don’t live near there! We also felt that there was a rental bike void that we could fill. We wanted our love for cycling and passion for Greenville to also benefit not just our amazing customers who live here, but also those visiting Greenville for the first time. Not to mention, what’s a more perfect location for a bicycles, beer, and coffee experience than Downtown Greenville.
360: What made you want to bring Freehub to Downtown Greenville?
Matt: As the market grows, people begin to shop in patterns. Larger markets typically get divided, things like rivers and interstates create markets within a market. People downtown are going to venture out of downtown less and less, especially if their needs are met close to home.
360: What does Freehub’s new downtown location bring to the community?
Matt: We aim to serve anyone who pedals. We want to keep you moving, otherwise you don’t need us. We have great rental bikes, cool bikes and gear for sale, and soon we will be the shop for e-bikes.
Katie: We bring a sense of belonging and acceptance to anyone interested in joining the riding community. Whether you are just starting out or you have been riding for 20 years! We want everyone to feel as if they can come to us for advice or technical knowledge. We offer a wide array of events like our Monday night community based Crews-in for a Brews-in bar crawl, our monthly Gears & Beers (next one on July 11th!) training series, and our weekly Wednesday night Women’s Ride which accommodate a wide range of skill levels. The cycling industry is about community and bringing people together from a variety of backgrounds, so your local shop should feel like a hub of community based activities. That’s what we’re striving for! Our staff are also some of the most experienced mechanics and sales people in the area. We hire career cycling industry folks, people who love this industry and bring that same knowledge and passion to the workplace. We bring that same level of professionalism customers have come to expect from our original location to the downtown community.
360: Talk to us about the coffee and beer?!
Matt: Ask any avid rider and they probably started the ride with a good coffee. Best way to finish… cold beer. Further, the large volume of general traffic on the trail is always looking for refreshments. We want to have an environment that speaks to someone just out for a stroll and maybe doesn’t want to go into a bar or restaurant.
Katie: In a tech heavy society that we all know we have become, it’s less community oriented and more politically polarized. Bicycles are that one commonality that still brings people together. Mention a bicycle and even if folks that aren’t avid cyclists, they probably have a childhood story about the freedom a bicycle provided. People use bicycles for transportation, sport, leisure, or sometimes just as a decoration theme in their home. The coolest part of our job is that we get to sell folks this experience, this simple machine that brings back childhood joy and brings people together who might not have otherwise communed together. We get to sell products that are good for your physical and mental health. It’s a privilege to help get more butts on bikes. The best part about our jobs is that as hard as we work, it doesn’t feel like work when it’s a passion. We love being able to serve our community by creating an open space for people to gather while also sharing the riding lifestyle we love with others.
360: What do you love most about your job at Freehub?
Matt: I still really enjoy playing with cool bikes and seeing the reaction when someone is truly excited about the experience. It is fun to make an amazing espresso as well.
360: What’s next for Freehub?
Matt: We have a mobile van we have not put a ton of marketing into. The idea is we fix your bike at your house or office. This plan sort of took a back seat to the new location as there is only so many hours in the day. But at some point we want to be as convenient as you need us to be.
Katie: We have already expanded into a mobile van operation for repairs at home and events. Our biggest next move is the acquisition of the E-Bicycle Store in Downtown Greenville. The owners are ready to retire, so in the coming weeks we will be absorbing their inventory and customer accounts so that we can continue providing the service their customers had already come to expect. With how busy both locations have become, especially in the service area, we are also going to be hiring even more staff in the coming months to make sure everyone’s experience at Freehub is a great one.
360: When you’re not at Freehub, what do you love to do? Go!
Katie: I love to go on rides with my family, camping, spend time in the garden, and enjoy all the events that our city has to offer. It’s not unusual for my family to plan its week around what is going on downtown. We also have trail runners, mountain bikers and tri athletes in our midst. We are a pretty well rounded and diverse group of individuals who love to ride!
Matt: Ride of course! I enjoy road riding, but really love the woods best. My wife rides as well, so we ride together a lot which is really cool. I’m also an avid hockey fan, but have hung my skates up. Outside of that I probably work too much!
Want more from Freehub Bicycles Downtown? You can follow them across social media for events, news and more via Facebook and Instagram. Also, check out their original Woodruff Road location at 1616 Woodruff Road in Greenville.
It gets better! Now every Monday you can join them for Crews-in for a Brews-in. It’s a leisurely 5-mile bike ride starting at their Freehub Bicycles Downtown (located along the Reedy River) and you’ll travel to the new The Whale and then Liability Brewing before returning back. Get the chance to enjoy a 6-ounce pour of your choice at each location. This weekly event goes from 6-8pm for FREE with your drink purchases TBD.
Want to meet more people of the Upstate? You can click here for our past interviews.