Another heart felt post this week. I feel like all these things need to continue to be pulled from me so that I can continue to find myself in this world.
7 months ago I didn’t own a car (well I didn’t drive one daily.) We were a family of 4 with one car. I rode my bike every day to the bus stop that would take me the 18 miles to center city Charlotte, where I would then ride the 1 mile to my office. I showered (if it was nasty out) across the street from my work at the local YMCA. My days were long with this commute, but it was very gratifying to not have the car payment or be trapped in my car in traffic. I would write, sleep or talk on the bus. I didn’t think for the whole commute, I enjoyed the events around me and the people I sat next to daily I became friends with.
On October 1st, 2010 I was left hooked by a car in the middle of an intersection 2 blocks away from my bus stop. The ambulance ride, the adrenaline, the lose of freedom and my soul shut down temporarily. To date my soul hasn’t been fully aligned or found. As much as I say I want to ride, I don’t, with the round of bike/car accidents lately I have been even more fearful.
May 1st, 2011 I am ending the broken cycle and rebuilding my hub and wheel. For bike month I will try to commute by bike for at least the first week of the month. To and from for 5 days. I can do that right? I will do that.
Here’s to my next 8 days. I hope it is filled with bikes and I safely make it to the other side!
WHEN: Wednesday May 4, 6:30p – 9:00p WHERE: WRC Showroom, Wheat Ridge, CO WHAT: A women’s-specific cycling tradeshow — over 35 vendors with all the latest in bikes, clothes, gear, events and more! WHO: You and all your cycling friends!
Refreshments, wine, light hors d’ouevres, and the famed Venus De Miles cupcakes. Expecting 350 / 400 Women . . . and booked 38 Vendors and Women’s Events for our Expo area. Plus Trek, Specialized, Orbea and Cervelo.Catered treats, two wine bars, a beer tasting by Avery Brewing, a dessert table and a chocolate bar. Plus raffles every thirty minutes for Vendor prizes!
2011 BIKE! Charlotte is seventeen days of bicycle related events and promotions used to encourage families, friends, and colleagues to break out the bike and use it as a means of transportation and recreation. Events will take place from April 29 through May 15, 2011.
WHAT: A short bike ride to Uptown Charlotte to show your support of cycling to the Mayor and other politicians during the 2011 Mayor’s ride.
WHEN: Friday, April 29th @ 7:30am
WHERE: Start Location: Dowd YMCA (400 E. Morehead St.) in the parking lot behind the YMCA
Seize the opportunity to show support for cycling in Charlotte! Ride and mingle with the Mayor, City Council Members, County Commissioners and other local politicians. It’s a short ride but one of the most important you could ever participate in, if you support cycling in the Queen City! Free breakfast provided by Ruth’s Chris will follow at the The Plaza on Tryon St.
I have a very humbled and sad feeling inside when I type this. If it doesn’t come across well, if my grammar stinks and spelling is horrid I am sorry. This type of message is one I never want to relay, it is one that pains me before I even begin.
Last Thursday morning I woke to an email from Benjamin Wilson. Ben is not only a club member, but is a main sponsor of em:pwr with his company Delivery Path. The email went something along the lines that he was hit the evening before in downtown (Uptown) Charlotte. He was fine, just was released from the ER but very shaken up and freaked out. He then asked me to call him ASAP.
I called Ben as soon as I could to talk through his worries and fear. His bike was totaled. He had a police and witness report. He was okay. He was scared. He was freaked out. Everything he explained was exactly how I felt 6 months earlier. I did my best, explaining that it is all needed and what I did to get through it..
Over the past week I’ve been trying to keep tabs on Ben. Keeping his spirits high, or as best as I can. Hoping that talking to someone that has been there and is back on the road would help!
Fast forward to today… A little after lunch I get a call from George Berger. He has been added to the list of Charlotte based bike accidents. I haven’t gotten a full story but he’s fine. He somehow “dismounted” his bike during the accident and now the frame and rear wheel are the only thrashed parts, not him.
Somber. Sad. Feeling for my two friends as I know exactly how they are feeling. George sounded like he was in better spirits than Ben. We’ll get through this guys and hopefully em:pwr others to fix this!
It is frequent that questions arise towards me for recommendations on how things should be done, or changed within the bike industry, especially bike shop management or culture. Maybe it’s the name Bike Shop Girl that brings it out of the person? I like to think it’s my charm and large brain…
With an outsiders perspective, here are some recommendations I am giving to active or maybe new bike shop managers.
Visit many corporate retail stores near you and take notes
Most shops want to keep that “home grown” feeling. I’m not recommending to lose that, if anything harness it but don’t forget in the end you are fighting to win customers over. Retailers that I recommend to visit include The Gap, REI, Apple, Best Buy, and Starbucks. Did they give you breathing room for when you first walked in? Did they great you warmly? Was the store clean and organized? Did the staff present themselves well and provide help when needed? Were you ever lost in the store? Did you feel rushed? How was the checkout process if you purchased something?
Visit them often and compare notes. These companies pay good money to train their staff, merchandise their store and have great processes to make sure all these things are handled correctly. Save your money and learn from them. Pull from as many great ideas as you can, use the ones that you can relate to.
Clean your bathrooms as if your mom was visiting
I visit a lot of bike shops, and I always ask to use their bathroom. You can really get an idea of how a shop is run behind the scenes by their bathroom. Are there magazines of half naked women? If you have one bathroom for men and women, ask your male staff to put the seat down every time they use it. Better yet, make it mandatory. If your staff has to clean the bathroom daily, they will keep their pee in the toilet and not leave greasy chains soaking in the bathroom sink. I understand some staff’s need to use the bathroom sink for this use, but let the chain soak in a water bottle and wash it off in the sink. Don’t leave it in there. I also don’t think anyone will be offended if the kit you rode into work was in there, I will be offended if it is hanging chamois side out right next to the toilet (where my face has to be!)
Think before you buy
Never write a pre-season order when your rep is still sitting there. Ask feedback from staff, compare numbers from the last 2 years and purchase wisely. Pre-seasons, discounts, and bulk buying is great a great thing that many companies offer, remember that it is ONLY great if you can sell it before the bill is due. Too many shops get sucked into saving 5% on their order and at the end of the season they are left with SKU’s they were required to purchase to make minimums. It doesn’t matter if you save $800 on an order, if you have a pair of $3,000 cost wheels sitting on your shelf for 2 years after you have payed the bill. Those wheels have COST you money by sitting there after you have paid the bill. Depending on margin, there is a change you needed to sell 2x, or had 2 cycle turns on that wheel set to make money when you factor in paying the invoice, losing floor space, and how the cost of the wheels tied up money from being spent on better turning product.
Never buy something that you or your staff wouldn’t use
There is a reason special ordering is around, promote it. If there is something you think is great, bring in one to test out. Let someone try it out, purchase more based on that review. Your staff will sell more of something they believe in, help them do this. Teach your staff how to properly special order a product, require money down, require a time period to pick up and if it isn’t convenient ask the customer if you could drop it off or ship it to them (based on weight, shipping cost and the ability to ship!) If special ordering is treated properly most customers will be happy to wait. You can get me the EXACT bike I want, built and in my hands before the weekend? I’ll be the first person to test ride it? – Direct quote from a customer I had. One season I proved my shop owner wrong, that special ordering is possible and most customers won’t mind a bit! Special ordering over a 1/4 of the bikes sold in the store.
Pick and train your employees as if you could do the same of your children
Teach them manners (customer service), morals (trustworthy and dependable), cleanliness (pick up after themselves and their customers) and a healthy attitude (give them a chance to ride their bike.) You aren’t their parents, and it isn’t your job but to have a stronger company you need to make your employees stronger. They are more valuable than your low margin inventory.
If you have experience running a bike store, or any other retail establishment please add your advice and tips in the comments below!
Warm, inviting, and cozy are not words you associate with booths at the Sea Otter Classic. To be able to make people feel welcome, even kids and women, it is a great compliment! A quick peek in photos of the Cyclelogical Gear booth.
Hangers made out of rims, spokes and shrader valves.
Sara Stearns is a reader of Bike Shop Girl and is an inspirational woman through and through. While at the Sea Otter Classic I was able to meet Sara face to face. She’s a pilot for an air ambulance that services the Sea Otter Classic every year. One of the days she was working she landed her helicopter and walked in to the Ladies Lounge in her pilot uniform! When I asked her to be one of my motivational Monday features she bulked, why would anyone find her motivational? She is your normal middle age (don’t take that personal Sara) woman, she has a job, she enjoys riding with her friends and rocks an awesome bike stable. Sara shows you what it is to live life everyday. Follow her on Facebook and you’ll see!
What’s your name and location?
Sara Stearns, Seaside, California.
What type of cycling do you enjoy?
I’m a rabid roadie, but as of late, a interest in off road has taken seed. I am not a competitive rider, although I might try a criterium one day to see what it’s like. Believe me, if I do, I’ll stay towards the back and stay out of everyone’s way!
What is your first cycling memory?
Ha! My dad taking the training wheels off of my first bicycle and sending me down the sidewalk for my first solo flight! I could only go straight. I was afraid to make turns – but, it was such fun, and I could do it!
Who in the current cycling industry inspires you, and better yet WHY?
Georgena Terry for her advocacy, her courage, and determination. She builds bikes, apparel, and she offers advice and inspiration. I also admire Evie Stevens for her come out of no where talent, and she’s such a sweetheart! She’s also a voice for safety and reason, and that’s so cool. I admire Fabian Cancellara, because he’s a huge talent, a nice person, and well – he’s pretty easy on the eyes, too. LOL! I also like Jim Felt, because his company built my first road bike and my tri bike. He also sponsors Sarah Hammer, and well – wow!! Above all, I am indebted to the local women riders whom I have come to know as I learn my way into and around the sport. Each and every one of them has offered advice, encouragement and has been a huge part of my enjoyment and bliss on my bicycle. I owe them HUGE…
What was your best moment on a bike in 2010?
My first triathlon! It was me against the clock, and all of the training I had done, plus the courage I mustered to do it, all came to fruition on that 12 mile course. It was a blast!
In the next year, what are your goals with cycling and pushing yourself forward in 2011?
More triathlons, century rides, solo rides, more fitness, more enjoyment, more socializing, more empowerment. I love to see other women getting involved in the sport, and it is a delight when they take a loving to it. I also so enjoy watching gifted athletes, female and male, as they struggle and then excel in this beautiful endeavor. More inspiration, that!
A 2009 Look 566, a 2004 Felt B2, and a 1996 Cannondale M500 (about to see the dirt for the first time!)
Motivational Monday, a Monday tradition at Bike Shop Girl, my goal to keep you motivated and to be striving on the bike even during a hard week or long hours at work. Are you a woman that bicycles? Fill out this easy form and be part of our motivational movement!
Often I come back from industry events like the 2011 Sea Otter Classic and people ask me what the coolest thing I saw was. I try to highlight all of those things on Bike Shop Girl and keep the fluff to the rest of the internet. One of these things were hardwood bicycles from Renovo Hardwood Bicycles.
Why Wood? We chose wood not because it’s different, not because it’s sustainable, but simply because we believe its engineering properties suit the requirements of most bicycle applications better than any other material. The performance of wood in applications more structurally demanding than bicycles has been well proven over many years. The most successful fighter bomber of WWII was the all-wood 400 mph British Mosquito, of which some 7500 were built.
Details in Photos
The frames were beautiful and it would be very cool to have one as a cafe cruiser. Clean, sleek and thought out. The drop outs worry me, as they are simply bolted into the wood.
As I started my Thursday off dragging through the Sea Otter venue trying to find a bathroom and coffee, yes in that order, I was stopped by Tall Tyler of Nuun. A little hand slap and a what’s up “bro”. Tyler then whispered in my ear that he had some new goods to show me at their booth when I had time. Soon the California sun was beating down on me and the coffee was wearing off. I needed hydrated and I knew where to find it.
Tall Tyler whipped out some fresh colored nuun canisters. Gone was the all white with only a small colored trim to differentiate and now there was a new, cleaner logo, with fun colored labels! With that, thank god, there were new flavors.
nuun Strawberry Lemonade
Let me introduce you to one of my new loves in life. Strawberry lemonade flavored nuun. In a 16oz glass of water or bottle it is the perfect hint of tart and sweet, amazing for the long ride or when you are quenching your thirst
The rest of the Sea Otter Classic I literally LIVED on nuun Strawberry Vanilla. They kept a few water coolers full of their new flavors for people to test, I kept testing over and over anytime my water bottle was low.
There are other new flavors as well : Lemon Tea, Fruit Punch, Grape, and Tropical I haven’t gotten to those as I am in love with the above.
A full review will be posted of all the new flavors, including how my kids and non-cycling friends like the flavors/concept.
This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing. I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.