Key downtown Port store to close

ZuZu Pedals, one of two retail anchors in prominent Boerner Building, to call it quits in part because of staffing woes

ZUZU PEDALS, a mainstay of downtown and one of two anchor tenants at Port Washington’s Boerner Mercantile Building on Franklin Street, is closing its brick-and-mortar shop, owner Tammy Thompson-Oreskovic announced last week. Photos by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

ZuZu Pedals, one of two retail shops in Port Washington’s prominent Boerner Mercantile Building and a staple in downtown for more than a decade, is closing, owner Tammy Thompson-Oreskovic announced Friday.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that I have made the business decision to close the brick-and-mortar location,” Thompson-Oreskovic wrote in a Facebook post.

She noted that the shop is no longer taking appointments for bike tuneups, that the final yoga class will be held July 28 and the store will close on Aug. 23.

After that, Thompson-Oreskovic said, the shop will be open for appointments only.

The loss of the popular bike shop will be significant, Kathy Tank, executive director of Port Tourism Council, said, noting it was a regular stop for tourists and area residents.

“She brought a lot of energy to downtown,” Tank said of Thompson-Oreskovic. “She has a loyal following of customers.”

Thompson-Oreskovic did not return calls seeking comment, but Tank said that she,  like many business owners, struggled to attract and retain employees during the pandemic, even as the shop experienced an increase in customer traffic.

“She definitely wanted to offer not just a good product but a good product experience,” Tank said.

“If you have a business that is doing very well, selling a product that’s in high demand — to have to make a decision like that because you can’t give people the services they want at the level you want has to be very difficult.”

ZuZu Pedals opened at a time when many people were investing in downtown Port, Tank said.

“It was so cool to see people showing faith in Port Washington, and Tammy was part of that wave,” she said.

The fact the shop is along the Ozaukee Interuban Trail helped make it a destination, Tank said, as did its bike rental business.

“That certainly was a wonderful amenity in downtown,” she said.

The location was, in fact, a major reason Thompson-Oreskovic opened the shop. An avid bicyclist, she twice found herself with a flat tire in Port without anywhere to fix it, she said in 2017.

She added that there was an unserved local market, noting, “There are just so many aspects to cycling — urban riding, fat-tire, mountain biking, family riders.”

She named the shop ZuZu Pedals, drawing on the pivotal role that a little girl named ZuZu played in her favorite movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

ZuZu Pedals grew up in downtown Port, starting in a small storefront on Franklin Street, then expanding and ultimately moving across the street to its current location in the Boerner building in 2014.

It was the major retail tenant in the building, and Thompson-Oreskovic said in 2017 that moving there was “the best thing we ever did.”

ZuZu Pedals opened as a bike rental shop, then, as customers asked for more services, expanded into repairs, then bike sales and classes.

Tank noted that when the shop opened, “there were a lot of naysayers. They did not think a bike rental shop was sustainable. But Tammy’s a savvy businesswoman. She put together a plan and she was on a roll.”

That plan included adding a yoga and cycling studio as well as spin classes, Tank said.

Thompson-Oreskovic was also involved in the community, working with other businesses in the downtown and sponsoring events such as Race the Harbor, a leg in the Tour of America’s Dairyland bike race series. But three years later, after the race failed to garner other sponsors, she pulled out and the race ended.

“She is very much a realist,” Tank said. “The intent was never for her to be the only sponsor.”


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