You can buy bikes and bike equipment in the stunning new location of Wheel & Sprocket, on Westgate Boulevard in Oak Park. Of course you can; it’s a bike store. You can also have the bike you already own tuned up or serviced there. But after having spent some time talking to the general manager, Eric Krzystofiak, I’m realizing that Wheel & Sprocket is indeed a bike shop—and much more than that.
According to Eric, “Advocacy [for bike riding] is a huge part of what we do,” noting that the Wheel & Sprocket Company—Oak Park is their eighth store—participates in or supports eighty biking events per year. These events help educate bikers as well as create safer biking infrastructure all around. “Of course we want to be successful and be here [in Oak Park] for years and years and years. But a big part of that is being involved in the community and helping support cycling,” says Eric.
Noel Kegel, the co-owner of the Wheel & Sprocket company, says that, when choosing a new location for a store, they look for a place with “a couple of elements that fit with our cultural DNA; [we look for a spot that] has some history, some character. And we look to really be a part of the neighborhood.” Oak Park fits that bill and they are excited to be here. He adds, “Customer service [to help them open] at the Village has been excellent.”
Their spot on Westgate Boulevard, across from The Emerson mixed-use development which will house Target on its ground floor and residential apartments above, was selected with proximity to The Emerson in mind. They hope to interface with the residents of The Emerson in various ways, as well as with shoppers at Target and other stores. Possible future collaborations, according to Eric, include Wheel & Sprocket picking up, repairing and returning bikes to and from the bike room at The Emerson while residents are at work for the day.
Both Noel and Eric mentioned Chris Kegel, founder of the company and Noel’s father who passed away last February. Noel and his sister Amelia then took over the company. Noel says, “I want to honor what my dad started and take it forward into the future. We’re all doing that; we’re all sort of honoring his legacy by keeping it going strong.” Of his four years so far at Wheel & Sprocket, Eric says, “It’s the most special thing I’ve ever been a part of.”
Upcoming events include a ten-week indoor cycling class at Wheel & Sprocket, plus outdoor winter biking on fat tires. They have a Grand Opening planned in October that will coincide with the opening of Target. Eric, who strives to be friendly and available every day, “There’s nothing more special than getting more people on two wheels.”