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Losing More Bike Shops

Old 12-31-19, 04:18 PM
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jyl
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Losing More Bike Shops

In the past year or so, we've lost many bike shops in Portland OR.

Partial list
Velocult (our C&V Camelot)
Performance Bicycle (3 locations)
CityBikes Coop (the larger location, the original location remains open)
Crank Cycles
21st Ave Cycles
A Better Cycle (neighborhood bike shop on SE Division)
Western Bikeworks (retail and cafe in NW - rent was raised, WBW will be online-only now)
Universal Cycles (retail store in SE is moving to Hillsboro)
Most recently
Breadwinner Cafe (the frame biz remains but the cafe will close)
Rivelo (closing soon)
Norther Cycles (closing imminently)
I don't have a count of all bike shops, and don't know how many new shops have opened in this time.

Word is that bike shops generally aren't doing great for business, and not just the esoteric ones. Rents are going up all over the city, I'm seeing all sorts of retail businesses under pressure. Online is eating away at most categories of retail.

I used to think that specialty shops offering niche products would be more resistant, but you can now get even very niche-y products online. Bike shop plus bar/cafe seemed promising, but Velocult and Breadwinner Cafe are gone.

If you could design a bike shop model that can survive, what would it be? Size, staffing, focus? Would or could it end up being an interesting shop?
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Old 12-31-19, 04:26 PM
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The only shops that seem to never suffer afflictions are the co-ops. Must be the model they use to do "business". Free bike parts and frames, free labor, donated work space. No P&L to worry about. Sometimes even the utilities are paid by donors or subsidized by the landlord donating the space. How can you beat that for a business model? Won't really make a living at it, but at least you will have something to do.
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Old 12-31-19, 04:30 PM
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It would be online.
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Old 12-31-19, 04:35 PM
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Its not only bike shops. The crazy economic 'wheel' is rapidly spinning to new ways of bringing in the dough.

Be prepared for the age of autonomy - many, many professions to current business is going bye-bye.


--------
As for bike dealers and shops. I would likely hope the survivors are of the old school- utilize and promote excellent servicing. As of late, I've seen enough poor to useless servicing. Too bad but that rubs off to current customer base and they quickly vanish.

Use co-op indy dealer buying from bike producers - pool resources for buying power.

Kill overhead. (Hire illegals - joke, OK?!)

Push makers to consign their products or else they can shove it up their azz. Either be with the dealer and no online sale or forget the brand.

Own your premises or if you must lease- plead to city / town board for new business incentives, local economy - small business respective. Expect doors slamming unless and you might resort to greasing the board.

Last edited by crank_addict; 12-31-19 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 12-31-19, 04:38 PM
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What we need is $5 a gallon gas, ok no we DON't need that but back in 08 you had bikes coming out of garages, sheds, attics etc as folks tried to avoid gas pump sticker shock and many bike shops ran out of 27" tires due to demand I recall bike commuting during that time and in one stretch the bike trail users had to wait for a bridge to open and close for waterway traffic, I was at the front when the bridge opened and as I looked behind me when the span closed again and we could cross I thought I was in a charity 100 miler the trail was so loaded with bikes.
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Old 12-31-19, 05:11 PM
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Talk to the bike thieves, they seem to have their business model down pat.
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Old 12-31-19, 05:18 PM
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This the Walmart, Amazon, online shopping age that have been closing down local businesses for the last 20 years.
Bike shops, music stores, electronics and appliances. All gone big box and online.
The only bike shop i visit now is my local Co-op, but thats up my alley. DIY with all the old tools, bins galore with C&V parts for cheap.I have no use for my local bike shop and frankly, they have no use for me. all my bikes are dinosaurs and i have no intention of riding anything else.
I think the way to survive is rethink your business model. Keep it small and focus on service. You can't get that online.

Last edited by norcalmike; 12-31-19 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 12-31-19, 05:30 PM
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My town of about 40,000 has 3 bikes shops and a co-op, which as far as I can tell are still going strong. Like NorCalMike though, I don’t go in them much. We had a Performance shop close but it was in the dead strip mall on the edge of town. I’m not sure what the secret is to these shops, other than they’re in a fairly affluent college town with an active cycling (fitness as well as for general transport) community.
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Old 12-31-19, 06:05 PM
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There's around 60 bike shops and another 30 frame builders in Portland, maybe the market's just over saturated.
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Old 12-31-19, 06:29 PM
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I am concerned about bike shops. It amazes me how they can operate with so much pressure from online and big box stores. That said , my favorite bike shop that has a small space in an older building with whole bunch of stuff nicely organized is doing well. They work on bikes in the center of the store behind a counter . They are knowledgeable and friendly and encourage people to interact . They have a great knowledge of new and old bikes and are willing to get that stuck freewheel off for you! The place is always busy. Joe
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Old 12-31-19, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
In the past year or so, we've lost many bike shops in Portland OR.

Partial list
Velocult (our C&V Camelot)
Performance Bicycle (3 locations)
CityBikes Coop (the larger location, the original location remains open)
Crank Cycles
21st Ave Cycles
A Better Cycle (neighborhood bike shop on SE Division)
Western Bikeworks (retail and cafe in NW - rent was raised, WBW will be online-only now)
Universal Cycles (retail store in SE is moving to Hillsboro)
Most recently
Breadwinner Cafe (the frame biz remains but the cafe will close)
Rivelo (closing soon)
Norther Cycles (closing imminently)
I don't have a count of all bike shops, and don't know how many new shops have opened in this time.

Word is that bike shops generally aren't doing great for business, and not just the esoteric ones. Rents are going up all over the city, I'm seeing all sorts of retail businesses under pressure. Online is eating away at most categories of retail.

I used to think that specialty shops offering niche products would be more resistant, but you can now get even very niche-y products online. Bike shop plus bar/cafe seemed promising, but Velocult and Breadwinner Cafe are gone.

If you could design a bike shop model that can survive, what would it be? Size, staffing, focus? Would or could it end up being an interesting shop?
Don't forget UBI, that is a bellweather death knell when a framebuilding school cannot sustain itself in a long standing epicenter like PDX.
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Old 12-31-19, 07:07 PM
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The co-op model is great. I just wish mine (BikeWorks) weren't a 25 minute ride plus a 30 minute lightrail away.
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Old 12-31-19, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by brian3069 View Post
There's around 60 bike shops and another 30 frame builders in Portland, maybe the market's just over saturated.
That of course has plenty to do with it but many of the good ones are the ones going down.

And it has always been so, the number and selection of them is troubling none the less.

It does not bode well at all in today's business climate.
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Old 12-31-19, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
If you could design a bike shop model that can survive, what would it be? Size, staffing, focus? Would or could it end up being an interesting shop?
Bike shop closures around here have been the norm for almost 20 years now. And at the pressure of increasing rents, its going to continue.


If I was interested in opening one, it would be on-line only as others have mentioned. The best way to control rent is to not have any.

When people can buy almost anything they want from Amazon, and have it in one day or maybe two days max, the world has changed forever. The co ops survive here due to low rent, (or donated free space). free (donated) materials, and volunteers. None of this is really feasible in a brick and mortar store.

I always get a kick out of the guy that visits our co op, wearing his scrubs from the local hospital where he works. He complains endlessly about the high prices shops charge. This from a guy where he works, they charge you $200 for a band-aid..... A lot of people don't appreciate what it costs to run a business, and are unwilling to pay a fair price for service.
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Old 12-31-19, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
It does not bode well at all in today's business climate.
What business climate are you referring to?
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Old 12-31-19, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by bobwysiwyg View Post
What business climate are you referring to?
Well in general the profit at all cost, plow the one off little guy under with abandon s**t storm that seems to prevail in many cases currently.

Its my narrow view of whats going on which I realize is just that.
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Old 12-31-19, 08:29 PM
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I've long been amazed so many shops existed in Portland. Seemed unsustainable from afar, based on population and participation.

Sucks that breadwinner is closing part of their overall business.
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Old 12-31-19, 08:46 PM
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Agee’s in Richmond (two stores, West Broad outside of the city limits, and a shop in Uber-hip Carytown) seems to be doing well. Then again they’re a long established general kind of shop supporting the mainstream riders and don’t laugh if you’re riding C&V. Wonderful people to deal with, and I notice they not carrying much of anything in the over $2000.00 class anymore.
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Old 12-31-19, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
Well in general the profit at all cost, plow the one off little guy under with abandon s**t storm that seems to prevail in many cases currently.

Its my narrow view of whats going on which I realize is just that.
Pretty much what expected your response to be, and I sort of agree. However, there's a side representing consumers and the pressure they apply. They are looking for low prices. The two pressures go hand in hand. To do otherwise suggests subsidising, and that's not going to fly.
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Old 12-31-19, 09:39 PM
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Does not Oregon/Portland have a reputation of being a bit anti-business? I have no idea if this is true but i would certainly not want to own a business where government made it difficult for me to operate.
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Old 12-31-19, 09:54 PM
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What! Norther too? Oh man.
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Old 12-31-19, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by sykerocker View Post
Agee’s in Richmond (two stores, West Broad outside of the city limits, and a shop in Uber-hip Carytown) seems to be doing well. Then again they’re a long established general kind of shop supporting the mainstream riders and don’t laugh if you’re riding C&V. Wonderful people to deal with, and I notice they not carrying much of anything in the over $2000.00 class anymore.
Agees has another store on Rt. 60 a block from Chesterfield Town Center. It's been there for a long time. One of the other area chains opened a store on the other side of the mall. It closed within a year or two. Carytown Bicycle is opening up a store on Rt. 60 about a 1/2 mile east of Rt. 288.

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Old 12-31-19, 10:09 PM
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When and where is Universal moving?
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Old 12-31-19, 11:39 PM
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Rivelo closing is no shock... Why on earth order or purchase anything Rivendell from brick and mortar store in Portland when I can order it directly from Rivendell and for the same price or a tad less ? I think it was interesting they tried to capitalize on shooting film and old vinyl records along with bikes. A very confused bike shop IMHO and that was just a bad business model . As for Universal I order from them all the time , they ship really economically and quickly. I get my parts a day or two at the latest after I order them here in Salem. However I would probably more more inclined to visit them more now that they are moving to HIllsboro.

As for some of other shops

I honestly can't see how the cafe every worked for Breadwinner .
My one dealing with Norther Cycles left a bad taste in my mouth , I did not come away with a good will feeling after talking to the guys who run that shop , they struck me as rude.

Brick and Mortar stores in general are doomed as time moves on, so people who intend to stay profitable in that venue are going to need to offer exceptional service and a unique value proposition that does not focus on elitist attitudes (Norther), having items on display but not in stock (Velo Cult) and selling vinyl records, and poster prints by Will (Rivelo) ....

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Old 12-31-19, 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by brian3069 View Post
There's around 60 bike shops and another 30 frame builders in Portland, maybe the market's just over saturated.

And this is entirely the case in all likelihood. It doesn't help that a lot of these smaller shops have bad business models
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