Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a new series from Siren Cycles’ founder Brendan Collier. While it’ll touch on his bike brand, the focus is on the romantic notion most of us have of one day opening a little bike shop to call our own. He’s done it, and now he’s chronicling the experience for us. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together. Read Brendan’s first article here. -Tyler
What do we want the vibe and theme of our bike shop to be?
To answer that question, we drew on the impressions of bike shops we’ve worked at before, and destination IBD’s (Independent Bicycle Dealers) we’d visited.
We’re mountain bikers. We figured it’s best to do what you know, so we started off on the basis that we most wanted to grow into a “mountain bike boutique.” We make no secret of the fact we’d like to do whatever we can to help transform Idyllwild into a destination bike town. I believe much of it comes from creating an atmosphere where people can relax, and engage in what they love to do. We’ll do our part of that at the shop.
1. Stoke Building.
Get people excited about riding. I might’ve learned this first while working at High Altitude, in Cloudcroft, NM, where I wrenched for Matt W. at a time in the past that feels like forever ago. Matt got folks excited to ride and built a loyal following through his ability to share trail knowledge, take people riding, and put on really fun events. He literally put Cloudcroft on the map for mountain biking. We’ve taken that lesson to heart by setting up regular shop rides since Day One.
2. Have fun. Invite others to have fun with you.
Saki, the charismatic manager of the shop I worked in during college, was a model example of this. He was engaging & knowledgeable, and seemed to really enjoy the service he provided to the community at Carbondale Cycle. His 3 weekly road rides and mantra “Smile and think light” were a gem of the region, and he built a loyal following by giving good advice, and being a genuine person. He was very well liked and I suspect his infectious attitude helped the bottom line, too. Over The Edge Sports, Hurricane seems to be onto this as well, where we’ve dropped in, been shown a good time, and even invited to dinner.
3. Make a comfortable space.
And not just the token couch in front a TV. The whole shop should be comfortable, organized… but not too much (nobody trusts a clean workbench.) I believe the best shops are found nooked away just off the beaten path. Away from noise, distractions. They create their own scene. Create your own scene, and you can create your own business, methinks.
I often say it’s best to throw a party in too small a space. Thankfully, that often works nicely with rent payments.
4. Be very good at one thing.
The In-n-Out Burger model. They make great hamburgers & fries, and they’re really good at it. They don’t do chicken or anything else. And you know what? When I want a hamburger, that’s where I go, every time. For the same reason, we didn’t aim to become a road shop. But wow, can we ever knock your socks off when it’s time to talk 29ers. We aim to be a very good XC/trail riding mountain bike shop as a first objective.
The Dream Shop we hope to become…
1. Move frame building under the same roof as the retail store.
I get giddy at the thought of the retail store with our frame building operations just beyond a glass wall. I mean, could it get any better? Imagine a bike that’s conceived, born, and brought into maturity right in front of you. Besides, it’d save me a block of walking from the store to the frame shop.
2. Beer. Yes, beer!
We’d love to see our shop situated in very close proximity to a brewery.
There are obvious parallels between the craft beer movement and that of the handcrafted & boutique bicycle. By and large, the same people dig both. Besides our own anecdotal experience, (*hiccup*) we’re starting to see more of it in profitable endeavors, evidenced in this article, as well as the recent introduction of the hand built frame brains REEB Cycles and the highly regarded Oskar Blues brewery out of Colorado. Another obvious bike shop example is Velo Cult in Portland, OR. Bikes and beer is a great combo.
The bike boutique concept gives us some starting points, but can be a moving target. To get started, we had to first pick a spot and jump in with two feet…
…To be continued.