Burr Ridge store is one-stop shop for triathletes
Urban TriGear manager Luke Remiasz of Chicago helps Mike Ghawaly of Downers Grove make a adjustments on a bike Ghawaly is considering purchasing. Ghawaly, who is training for his first full Iron Man in August, has turned to the Burr Ridge store for assist
Name: Urban TriGear
Specializing in: swimming, biking and running gear for triathletes
Location: 210 Burr Ridge Parkway
Hours: 11 a.m.to 7 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday during winter
Updated: February 18, 2013 1:15AM
BURR RIDGE - Hinsdale native Preston Bokos didn’t plan to return once he left to attend college in Florida.
But after being lured back to the Midwest by his parents around the birth of the second of his three children, the entrepreneurial Bokos is owner of two Urban TriGear shops in Burr Ridge and Westmont. Urban TriGear serves swimmers, bikers and runners, particularly those who participate in triathlons.
“It was either wearing a tie and working for my father up here or applying some of the skills I learned at the University of Tampa in entrepreneurship, so I started up a store,” the 34-year-old said.
An avid swimmer at Hinsdale Central and Westmont Swim Club during his youth, Bokos worked as a part-time swim coach for an adult master’s group in Tampa’s Harbour Island neighborhood after college. While working at the pool, he started a little business selling swim goggles out of a locker.
“In Florida, there were no swim shops or triathlete shops in the area. There was a need for goggles and triathlon equipment,” he said.
Upon moving to Oak Brook, Bokos took the profits earned from the sale of the home he and his wife Devyn owned in Tampa and opened his first Urban Tri-Gear store in 2006 in Westmont.
“Starting up a business prior to the market crash, I saw a lot of promise in the triathlon business,” he said.
True to his vision, the company outgrew the Westmont location within a couple of years, prompting Bokos to open his second location in Burr Ridge. He’d signed the papers to lease the space at 210 Burr Ridge Parkway in 2008, just as the nation was plunged into a recession.
“It was a scary time to succeed and survive,” he said. “This was something that we believed in. Instead of closing the doors, we persevered through the hard times.”
Now, Bokos said, things are back on track, and triathlons have become a fast-growing trend, he said. Though many would fear big-box competition, Bokos said his niche is successful because it provides products and service not found at larger competitors.
“Just today I had a lady referred from Dick’s because we’re more specialty,” he said.
Though Bokos and his bike specialist, Luke Remiasz, at one time were active triathletes, they increasingly find themselves behind the scenes at national events. Their presence helps lend credibility to Urban Tri-Gear’s website, through which the company sells and ships products nationwide.
“They can see there’s a real store, that there’s real people there and not just a basement filled with goods,” Bokos said.
Remiasz, who has worked at Urban TriGear for more than three years, said it’s the one-stop shopping that’s great for triathletes.
“By having everything together and having experience in all of them, we can help people with specifics other people don’t understand,” he said. “Other stores, they’ll say, ‘You should be fine with this,’ instead of giving the customer whatever they need.”
Remiasz said the experience he and Bokos have with triathlons also allows them to provide better advice to customers, often preventing them from wasting time and money.~.