Johnson City, TN

Revving Up Recreation: Expanding Business Energizes Growth Around Tweetsie Trail

John M. Dabbs
Tweetsie Trail sign, Johnson City Trailhead.Photo byJohn Dabbs/Photographer

The Pedal Power of Progress

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Bryan Winston, a local business titan and general contractor, is invigorating the commercial landscape around the Tweetsie Trail, a popular recreation site in Johnson City and Elizabethton, Tennessee. His ventures are diversifying the local business environment and fostering a community culture of outdoor recreation and enjoyment.

Winston's latest enterprise is central to this growth surge: Cranky’s Pump-N-Pints and e-Bikes of JC, located at 640 East Maple Street. This two-story venue represents a synergistic fusion of two establishments, each occupying one floor of the building and each aimed at amplifying trail-goers' experience.

The first floor will house e-Bikes of JC, a new store dedicated exclusively to selling e-bikes. The concept was born out of Winston's existing bike shop, Local Motion, situated directly across the street. Winston noted a dramatic increase in e-bike sales, surpassing even traditional bike sales last year. This observation and a rise in e-bike rentals at Local Motion signaled an opportunity for expansion.

The presence of an e-bike store here is much more than a savvy business decision. "E-assisted riders, or traditional riders, walkers, or runners get back to the beginning of the trail. They’ll have quite the wind-down spot available," said Winston, underscoring the connection between his businesses and the natural beauty of the Tweetsie Trail.

Tapping into Trail-side Fun

The second floor of the building introduces trail-goers to an entirely different experience: Cranky’s Pump-N-Pints, a pub offering an assortment of craft beers through eight unique taps. While attracting adult patrons with its local brews, the pub maintains a family-friendly atmosphere by featuring kid-friendly beverages and a mini “pump track” for kids. This upper-level venue aims to be an inviting place for trail-goers to relax and enjoy the company of others after a day of outdoor fun.

This dual-purpose building results from Winston's keen ability to adapt his plans according to market demand and community needs. Initially considering the location for a couple of Air BnBs, he pivoted his plan after recognizing the potential of combining cycling, local food, and craft beer into a unique trailside destination. "We felt that each business we have here... will complement each other,” Winston said.

Winston's vision for his business ventures mirrors a nationwide trend that’s been accelerated by the pandemic: the surge in outdoor activities. He identified the potential of the Tweetsie Trail early on, purchasing his first building as the trail began to bloom. Today, he recognizes it as a significant attraction for tourists and locals. “We get people from all across the country, countries around the world... it’s a destination point from which people are getting to experience the outdoors of East Tennessee,” he said.

A Focus on Family and Community

At the heart of Winston's enterprises is an emphasis on community. His aim is to create spaces that welcome everyone - from the avid cyclist to families seeking a leisurely afternoon outdoors. His right-hand woman, Randi Feuchtenberger, Local Motion’s general manager, embodies this community spirit. She shares Winston's vision for a family-friendly pub where parents can relax with a craft beer while their children enjoy the pump track.

The family-friendly approach extends to the food offerings as well. Alongside the craft beer and bike shop, the location will feature a rotating selection of local food trucks. “We’ll also have popsicles and slushies... so this should be a really good space for families... while their kids get to ride around and have a good time,” Feuchtenberger said.

This community focus isn't just confined to the family. It also extends to the wider community of trail-goers. Winston and Feuchtenberger are aware that their potential customers aren't just residents but also include visitors from all over the world drawn to the natural beauty of East Tennessee.

Looking Ahead

As they eagerly await the Johnson City Commission meeting scheduled for June 15 to approve their beer license, Winston and Feuchtenberger are already dreaming of the day when they can open their doors to the public. They anticipate Cranky’s Pump-N-Pints and e-Bikes of JC will become a bustling hub of activity, a new destination along the Tweetsie Trail that provides a welcoming atmosphere for everyone.

More than just profit-driven ventures, Winston's businesses symbolize an investment in the community and the landscape of the Tweetsie Trail. They bolster Johnson City as an outdoor destination and offer locals and visitors new ways to enjoy the trail and its surroundings.

What was once a dilapidated house on a steeply sloped, small lot across from Local Motion is now a beacon of transformation and growth along the Tweetsie Trail. Winston’s expanding enterprise represents not only a thriving bike culture but also embodies the spirit of East Tennessee - a spirit of innovation, adaptability, and a deep-seated love for the great outdoors. Through the fusion of bikes, beer, and a focus on community, Winston's enterprises encapsulate the essence of outdoor recreation in Tennessee.

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John is An outdoor enthusiast passionate about travel and adventure, a consultant, author, and journalist.

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