Ira Kargel and Kevin Wallace’s Mississauga shop is more than just a place to buy a new bike. The high school sweethearts’ 30-year-old Gears Bike Shop serves as a community hub for cycling enthusiasts at all levels. The Gears’ team put a lot of effort into making the shop’s environment a great one. They help customers pick the perfect bike and maintain it. They fit cyclists to their bikes like a tailor would customize a new suit.
But the shop wasn’t always the most suitable space to operate in. “Halogen lights were doing a good job showcasing our products, but they generated too much heat, making the store too warm in certain places and creating uneven cooling and heating,” says Kargel. “It was not always a comfortable environment for customers and employees.”
Gears made the upgrade from halogen bulbs to more efficient LED lighting in spring 2016 through the Small Business Lighting program.
Now, the space is cooler. Customers can spend their time in a more comfortable store while carefully selecting their new bikes. “The products also look really great with the new lights,” Kargel says. “It’s important to me to have an environment where my customers and employees feel comfortable without compromising the quality of light.”
Employees have also noticed a difference, commenting on the cooler atmosphere, which makes their work servicing customers and bikes even more enjoyable. “We have an area where we fit bicycles specifically to riders and it’s a relatively confined space,” Kargel says. “Previously, staff would rush to get the job finished because it was too hot. That’s no longer the case.”
We have to carefully manage the business’s expenses to operate successfully. That’s what made participating in this program such a no-brainer.
The change reduced Gears’ lighting costs by 85 per cent, putting $880 a year back into the business.
“Energy costs are definitely significant for us,” says Kargel. “We have to carefully manage the business’s expenses to operate successfully. That’s what made participating in this program such a no-brainer.”
After all, for Wallace and Kargel, cycling and sustainability are a tandem team.