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March 21, 2014

Breakaway Bike Shop celebrates 25th anniversary

Breakaway Bike Shop in Peru celebrates 25th anniversary


“I’d just had it,” he said. “After 17 years, I was burned out.”

Betzner said he had planned to sell off his entire inventory to a place in Colorado, lease the building and close up shop. But he didn’t really want to. He wanted to see the store survive and stay in Peru.

So it was a kind of godsend, Betzner said, when Zac walked in unannounced one day and said, “‘You know, I’ve always liked this business. Have you ever thought about selling it?’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me? You bet I have.’”

And that was it. Zac quit his job as an engineer in Warsaw and started running the place with Shannon in 2006.

“I was tired of the routine and the drive and working for somebody else,” he said. “I gave them my two-week notice, and started doing this.”

As it turned out, it was a perfect time to buy a bike shop in Peru, because that was the same year the first 3.5 miles of the Nickel Plate Trail were paved just south of town.

Within the first month of the trail’s opening, Zac said people were pouring into the shop to buy a new bike.

“The first words out of their mouth after, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ was ‘I’m looking for a bike for that new trail,’” Zac said. “We said, ‘OK.’”

Business only got better as volunteers completed more of the trail over the years. Now, Zac estimates the Nickel Plate has helped nearly double the amount of business at Breakaway.

Business grew so much that Zac and Shannon were able to move two years ago from their old location on Grant Street to the much larger — and much nicer — facility at 8 S. Wabash St.

Betzner said the location on Grant Street, where he ran the shop, was pretty run down and crude. With their new location, he said the Sees have turned Breakaway into a world-class operation.

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