LIKEaBIKE USA (ToyDirectory) introduced a new concept to America: the running bike. Running bikes, familiar vehicles in Europe, use the feet to propel and stop the vehicle, which makes it an excellent way for children ages 2 to 5 to develop balance and motor skills.
|We gave some LIKEaBIKEs to people in different New York City neighborhoods for their children to use. This was a great help because families could see them in motion. —Peter Reuther of LIKEaBIKE |
Peter Reuther, co-owner of LIKEaBIKE USA, launched his Web site in Spring 2004, and began business that March. He notes that the sleek wooden LIKEaBIKE sits at the crossroads of toy and bike. Initially, Reuther focused on marketing LIKEaBIKE to toy stores, but he has now broadened marketing efforts to include bike shops. In his own words, Reuther discusses his unique company.
My wife, Britta, and I had seen my nephew riding a LIKEaBIKE in Germany and immediately wanted to know who had made it. We were so taken with the design, construction and use of the LIKEaBIKE that the idea to sell it ourselves came naturally. If it had been another metal bicycle or tricycle, we wouldn’t have felt that way. We also knew that we had the advantage of there being no other running bikes in the United States.
Britta made the initial contact with the German family-owned firm Kokua GmbH, which includes the product designer of the original LIKEaBIKE. The manufacturer was open to the idea of our selling and distributing the vehicle. Consequently, we became an independent importer.
In our test phase, we sold only the Mountain model (made of laminated birch wood), which continues to be our most popular design. Forest (made of laminated beechwood) is the top of the line. Each has a green fabric seat. Spoky, the basic model, does not have wooden wheels, but kids like the real-bike look of its spokes. The fourth model, Race, is a special-order item because it has hard rubber instead of inflatable tires like the other models.
When we began, we gave some LIKEaBIKEs to people in different New York City neighborhoods for their children to use. This was a great help because families could see them in motion.
Toy Fair 2005 was our first trade show, and buyers from the shops at the Chicago Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Art found us there. It was good for the exposure of a vehicle that needs to be seen and demonstrated.
In the spring it seemed that we took at least one call each week from another shop interested in carrying the LIKEaBIKE. Bikers who chat on the Internet have discovered our vehicle and talk about it.
Although we began with toy stores, bike stores are now inquiring about it. LIKEaBIKE USA has also had some good press recently, including a piece in ID (International Design) Magazine and mention in the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine.
The manufacturer has made a line of accessories as well, which we introduced at Toy Fair. While I didn’t expect the extras — a kickstand, a two-pocket pouch, and a wooden basket for the handlebars — to be strong sellers, sales have exceeded expectation.
Our business continues to move as more families see others with LIKEaBIKE. That’s what keeps things rolling for us.