They’re where I go to lose myself, to be anchored and to be inspired. Each time
I cross that threshold I have an expectation that something unique will happen
inside. I always count on seeing something new be it bike or gear. I know that
something in the rarified air of tires, grease and solvents from the service
department or muffled conversations from staff and patrons I will find either
validation for why I ride or inspiration that adds to that long list of reasons
I already hold dear.
Every community needs a local bike shop, as many as can be supported because
each one is unique. Like a group of eclectic friends. It occurs to me that bike
shops are the nodes of a community. They represent the highs and lows, the
crossroads and the connectors of everything and anything that might make up the
variety and flavor of your home town. Why because the experiences we all have on
bikes is common ground. In one way or another it takes us all back to some stage
and some joy of childhood.
Nothing gives me greater joy than spending time with my grandkids but it does
have a way of reminding me I’m, well older. But time on my bike…nothing makes
me so young again.
I hope this will always be the case for me. This year my relationship with local
shops changed dramatically. In May 2014 my son and I launched a new bike
accessory, Spruzza and four shops, their owners and several of their staff
members have become invaluable to us on a much more adult level…business.
As early as 2012 Keith from Bicycle Planet became a source of valuable
information, insight and encouragement while we shared the concept and early
prototypes. Soon after John the owner of Bicycle Planet also stepped up to lend
his decades of experience in the bike world to our ideas. John was particularly
encouraging as we wrestled with the best way to market and position Spruzza to
cyclists of all types. John gave us our first real stage to present Spruzza to
our local community with his famous annual Diva Night in May of 2013. The
response was so overwhelming it propelled us enthusiastically through the last
phases of our product development and to the final launch in May of 2014.
By June of 2014 the interest was growing from a few other shops in the area
including Kinetic Cycles in Sacramento and Vans Bicycle Center in Yuba City,
California. Both Bruce from Kinetic and Glenn with Vans gave us the opportunity
to offer Demo Rides for anyone interested in “A Cooler Way to Ride.” All four
shops in fact provided us with several demo ride events over the course of the
2014 summer. It proved to be our most effective tool for converting intrigued
cyclists into Spruzza customers.
Bruce, Keith, John and Glenn all assisted us not just with product promotions
and purchases but with valuable lessons about the cycling industry, best
practices in the relationships between supplier and retailer. They shared many
years of combined experiences with customers, helping us understand the various
segments of the market and the psyche of individual cyclist types.
As the shops sold Spruzzas over the summer we were able to stay in close contact
with them all gaining a lot of great information how their customers perceived
and used our product. You just can’t put a dollar value on that relationship.
Everything we heard and observed from our first independent bike dealers has
given us a good and solid foundation to build on for the future.
As a start up business and launching a new product into the world of cycling we
cannot be more grateful or have a greater respect for the unique value of the
local bike shop.
From these very adult – business conversations we plan to grow our business and
provide many opportunities for every cyclist to enjoy in a cooler way the
childlike experience of riding a bicycle.