ARKELL – Soon, residents will be able to purchase a cup of Joe while immersing themselves in cycling culture.
Flow State Bike Co is a boutique bike shop and coffee bar located at 599 Arkell Rd. The location is the former site of Union Market Square, a general store and a post office.
When you walk inside, a grand staircase separates Flow State Bike Co into two sides. On the left is a bike retail, repair and accessories store, and on the right, a coffee brewing area with a kitchen and bar.
"You can call it an 'après bike spot' where people can gather and have a good time," said Nate Lessnick, the owner, about the setup.
“Add in some great lighting, great music and having just an atmosphere of very friendly staff who smile when you walk in, is something I want to bring to a bike shop."
The business has been a dream of Lessnick's for a long time and it began when he was excited to buy his first mountain bike.
As a teen, Lessnick saved up his money from summer camp, researched the bike he wanted to buy and took a bus to the bike shop. After an uneventful purchase, he felt the experience fell short of his expectations.
This memory not only inspired him to open his own bike shop, but take it one step further and create a community hub.
“I really wanted to change that experience for others. Buying a bike should be a celebration,” said Lessnick.
The refreshments at Flow State are simple, but focused on high quality, local ingredients. The coffee is supplied by Guelph's Lost Aviator and the beers come from local breweries in Guelph and Cambridge.
Cyclists and residents can try five types of sandwiches made in-house by chef and owner of Gilbert’s Delicatessen, Kyle Corbin. Lessnick said Corbin is a friend of his and also a mountain biker.
"I did try all of them, I was full by the end of our session, they are fantastic," said Lessnick. "I was kind of worried if people would be satisfied with a cold sandwich, and they are delicious, and I think it showcases the freshness of the ingredients.”
Prior to opening Flow State, Lessnick worked for eight years with Sacred Rides Mountain Biking Adventures, a tourism business once based in Toronto. Through Sacred Rides, Lessnick said he visited Peru, New Zealand, Guatemala and other countries where bike shops were regarded as community hubs.
“I got to see what a bike shop could be,” said Lessnick.
When he moved to Guelph early 2020, Lessnick noticed an opportunity to start a boutique bike store, and after consulting with community members, decided to begin building the business last November.
"I wanted to get back into the bike industry and pursue something I was passionate about," said Lessnick.
Having admired the location on Arkell Road for a while, Lessnick said he acquired the space earlier this year. He created a GoFundMe page to help with renovations and got over $5,000 in donations.
"What I've learned is that people are super supportive of new business ideas and want to see us thrive," said Lessnick, adding it took time to build connections within the community.
The location of Flow State Bike Co is near two trails cyclists often use and a church which the Guelph Cycling Club meets in front of every Thursday.
"It could be a really big draw for this area,” Lessnick said about the opportunity.
When creating the business, the name of it came quickly to Lessnick. He said it is inspired by the feeling he gets whenever he is biking.
"The feeling of flow, of being fully immersed in the moment and not really thinking about everything else. I'm just on the trail, on my bike, having a blast and every other little worry seems to dissipate."
Flow State Bike Co is expected to open Nov. 12., and while there is still lots to do and staff to train, Lessnick looks forward to welcoming customers into a fun and friendly environment. Residents can subscribe for news updates at flowstatebikeco.com.