According to a recent story from the Las Vegas Review Journal, bicycle shops are continuing to survive, despite steep competition from online retailers. In 2013, U.S. stores sold nearly two billion bicycles, despite backlash from some customers about the traditional method of retail. When Ted Jewell, co-owner of bicycle shop Southwest Bikes, had a customer complain about the price of assembling a bike, he just thanked them and let them leave in a huff.
“For the people who have to make a living (from a bike shop), it’s hard work,” Jewell said, referring to the competition from Internet retailers and obstacles in getting recognition for bikes as vehicles. Bicycle manufacturing companies have even started to sell bikes directly to the online retailers, cutting out the middleman entirely. This could mean hard times for the common bike store, according to Fred Clements, the National Bike Dealers Association’s executive director.
“I don’t think any brick-and-mortar store has completely adapted to the Internet because everything is changing so quickly. Long-term survivors will be savvy businesspeople able to control costs, they’ll have excellent service departments, and they will be inspirational leaders of the local cycling community.”
In 2013, direct bicycle sales reached $5.8 billion, and saw a rise in 2014 with $6.1 billion in direct sales. The success of the bicycle industry has continued to rise, but small bike shop owners need to stay smart to stay in business. Jay Townley of The Gluskin Townley Group, implores these shops to stay up-to-date.
“The biggest Internet threat is bike shops ignoring or denying the simple fact that the American consumer has totally embraced the Internet as a source of information and key component in the path to purchase… and literally expects brick-n-mortar and online bike shops to be the same retail entity that is available when the consumer wants to find out something or shop.”