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small business colorado
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Why Should We Buy Local When It Isn’t Equal?

During the past month of mad scrambles to get presents and my new routine of walking the streets of Boulder, Colorado, past boutique’s and chains I have become jaded.

Sidebar:

I believe my feelings changed around the time American Express started pushing “Small Business Saturday” the day after Black Friday several years ago. If you really are a small business owner, there is a chance you don’t even accept American Express because of the raised fee’s the card brings. Small Business Saturday should be sponsored by the US Treasury to promote the exchange of paper bills and metal coins, not plastic that costs the small business more margin (think 3% of the maybe 30% that the merchant may be netting.)

Back to my original thoughts.

I’m a proud gold card carrying Starbucks customer. Daily, I walk past many cute little coffee shops in Boulder, Colorado, on my way to the office in the morning. I have tried three over the past month, a couple of them numerous times, and it has been a 50/50 split of leaving with happiness. Maybe I have high expectations but to me a local business should deliver me an equal, or maybe even better, experience of the chain next store. I’ll happily pay a bit more for this. The coffee should taste equal or better, the atmosphere should be welcoming.

Here have been my experiences at these local coffee shops

  • My credit card was accidentally charged twice
  • My drink order was forgotten
  • The staff treated me like I didn’t belong (no smile, no exchange of pleasantries)
  • Twice, I have walked away with an amazing cup of coffee but all other times my Keurig produces equal quality

Get to the point

This venting is not to ridicule the local coffee houses of Boulder but to prove a point that buying local does not mean that you should be settling.

There have been many comments over the years when I link to JensonUSA or any online retailer to buy a product that I’m not showing love for local bike shops. While I have the softest place in my heart saved for local bike shops with out the name “Trek” or “Giant” in their name, I also have a higher level of standards for these shops. Being a local bike shop does not mean you have arrogance about you, your mechanics are too good for hybrids and your bathrooms reek. Being a local shop means you need to be better, work longer hours, and have higher standards. If you can’t deliver that, then I will take my money elsewhere and recommend for others to go somewhere I know they will be treated well like REI or JensonUSA.

As the world of consumerism changes, I don’t believe Amazon is the devil or the end of local businesses. I believe local businesses need to step up the service, the quality and they will be happily rewarded.

Off the Map Art
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Handmade Cycling Gift Ideas

You have less than two weeks until Christmas and you still haven’t gotten that perfect gift for the cycling loving person in your life. Here are some unique ideas that you probably won’t find on Amazon. Tomorrow I will be posting my “must-have” gift list for all of you last minute gift buying friends. You can also checkout my Pinterest Cycling Gift Guide.

Bicycle Tube Toiletry Bag

Bike Tube Toiletry Bag

A perfect bag for makeup, art supplies or small electronics. Website

Campagnolo Toe Clip Keyring

Campagnolo Toe Clip Keyrings

If you have a cycling snob in your life, this keyring will be a treasure to them. Website

Bicycle Inner Tube Cuff

Bicycle Inner Tube Cuff Bracelet

Unique designs that I hadn’t seen before. Website

Off the Map Art

 

Off the Map Art

My girlfriend purchased a couple of these paintings for my office when we moved. They are gorgeous and a lovely touch to any room. Website

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack
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Review: Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

Bags seem to be an addiction for cyclist. You need something for your commute, your mountain riding, your city dwelling and grocery shopping. Finding a bag that can do a little bit of everything and not weigh 40 pounds at the end of the day is pretty important to me.

A few years ago I reviewed the Banjo Brothers Commuter bag. For everyday life the bag was just a bit too big for me. I loved the white color and functions but it was just too bulky for my back. A few weeks back Banjo Brothers sent a care package of review items, one of the bags inside was their newer Metro Backpack, in white of course. As the box was being unpacked my girlfriend quickly put her claim on the Metro Backpack for her daily commute to the hospital. As she is commuting 10 miles a day, 6 days a week, with an extra set of clothes, iPad, overnight “essentials”, lunch and books, I figured she’s a good candidate for testing out the Metro Backpack.

Metro Backpack Essential Details

  • MSRP: $74.99
  • Available in Black or White
  • 18 oz vinyl tarp material (for easier cleaning) with hanging liner for excellent water resistance
  • Full width wicking back pad
  • 12 interior and exterior pockets
  • Padded laptop pocket fits up to 10″ x 15″ notebooks
  • Cell phone holster included
  • Front and rear reflective tape and webbing tab for safety light
  • 16″H x 11″L x 6.5″W / 1100 cubic inches

Details that Mattered to Emily

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

Not too big, not too small. The bag isn’t so big that you can overload and have too much gear on your back. You can stuff it, carry tons of stuff or whatever else you may but it’s right at 1100 cubic inches of space.

It’s white and has a large reflective strips. The added safety of a white bag with a large reflective strip across the back flap, a couple reflective strips on the shoulder straps and light holder is pretty thoughtful for when she is commuting at 5am.

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

12 interior and exterior pockets. Each side of the bag has an outside pocket, perfect for a small u-lock, keys or waterbottles. The main flap has a pocket for items you need quickly but want under the protection of a zipper. Inside you have a large compartment with a padded laptop sleeve. Pen pockets, phone pockets and other smaller compartments to keep things organized.

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

Phone pocket on shoulder strap that fits a Lifeproof iPhone.

Waterproof. The fabric is waterproof, the flap would keep out water in most rain storms and the most water we deal with normally in Denver are sprinklers. I wouldn’t submerge the thing but it will be more than enough for most commuters.

Removable waist belt. She didn’t ever use it, so we simply unclipped it!

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

Compression straps on the sides. Keeps things snug, and when the bags not full you can make it a lot smaller.

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

What’s In Your Bag?

This is a blow out of what is normally in Emily’s bag for her daily commute.

What's In your Bag

Overall Feedback and Thoughts

The bag does not have the classic Banjo Brothers removable liner, which I am thankful for. This is a trimmer, and realistic bag for the everyday commuter (or smaller frame person.) It does still create a sweaty back on commutes over 15 minutes, but that’s really the only downfall of this bag.

There are a few things I would change if I had my way… The material they use is waterproof but that also makes it not stretch or flex very well. The interior and side pockets could be made out of a material that had a little give in it to allow things to get in and out easier. The material also has a lot of friction so sliding things like phones/pens/etc in and out the tight pockets can require two hands. (Note from Banjo Brothers: Truck tarp is stiffer than the ballistic nylon – white is truck tarp, and black and red are in standard ballistic nylon, which is a little more forgiving.)

For $75 I would be surprised if you found a bag comparable for everyday use and easy to use features with out too many thrills to over complicate the bag.

20% Discount with Banjo Brothers Through July

That’s right, Banjo Brothers wants to know if folks that read my reviews actually purchase stuff. They are offering a 20% off discount off anything if use BIKESHOPGIRL at time of checkout (case sensitive.) http://bit.ly/12SPsAu

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no charge for review. 

National Women's Bicycling Forum
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National Women’s Bicycling Forum: March 4th

On March 4th, 2013, timing around the National Bike Summit, the League of American Bicyclists are hosting the second annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum. I asked Carolyn, Director of Communications at the League of American Bicyclists, some follow up questions to learn more about what the League has planned for this Forum!

About the National Women’s Bicycling Forum

Join hundreds of fellow advocates and enthusiasts who are working to engage more women in bicycling at our next Women Bike event! Register now for the second annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum on March 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C.!

With a theme of “Women Mean Business,” this all-day event will showcase women leaders and entrepreneurs in the bicycle industry and highlight the economic impact and rising influence of women in the bicycle movement. (The Forum will end before the start of the National Bike Summit.)

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

With an opening keynote address from Georgena Terry, break-out sessions, lunch plenary, networking and so much more, the Women’s Forum will be an opportunity to learn, connect and network with advocates and leaders from across the country who are working to close the gender gap in American bicycling.

Both women AND men are encouraged to attend!

A Recap of the First National Women’s Bicycling Forum

Carolyn: The first National Women’s Bicycling Forum was really a toe in the water — it was a first attempt to bring the discussion about gender to the forefront and gauge the interest and trajectory of where that conversation could take us at the national level.

First, we tried to pour a number of different perspectives into a two-hour panel. With incredible speakers like Elysa Walk (GM of Giant Bicycle USA), Marla Streb (former world mountain bike champion) and Veronica Davis (founder of Black Women Bike DC) some incredible insight floated to the top — but it was crystal clear that tackling “women in bicycling” is NOT a single conversation. It’s an ocean of content!

Secondly, the response was a tidal wave. We packed the room with more than 300 people, all of whom were just buzzing with excitement and ideas and energy to keep the conversation going. So the take-away was simple: A two-hour forum is just the first drop in a really big bucket. In September, we expanded to a full-day event with more sessions with more specific content, like family biking and marketing to women. In 2013, we’re expanding and sustaining that effort with a full-time program, so we can compile and create new resources, share stories and work on targeted strategies to increase the number of women riding, in between these killer events.

What are the Main Reasons the League is Putting Energy into this Forum?

Carolyn: The Women Bike initiative is really part of a more big-picture effort by the League to change the face of bicycling — or better represent and include the voices of the many diverse communities and people who ride. Clearly, since we’re 50 percent of the population, we need to engage more women if we want to mainstream / normalize bicycling as a means of transportation (like we see in European countries) and recreation, too. And it’s not just about equity in numbers — our voices our powerful. Women are role models for the next generation, decision makers for their households, persuasive political constituencies and ingenious entrepreneurs. Bringing more women into all aspects of the bicycle movement, from lobbying on Capitol Hill to designing product at major bicycle manufactures, is in everyone’s best interests.

What is the Second Annual Forum Focused On?

Carolyn: The second annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum on March 4 in Washington, D.C. With a theme of “Women Mean Business,” we’re focusing on how the industry and retailers are working to close the gender gap and highlighting efforts that are changing the culture of cycling in new and innovative ways.

The speaker line-up is off the chain: Georgena Terry, Jacquie Phelan, leaders Red Bike & Green, reps from industry leaders like Specialized, Giant and ASI; editors from Bicycle Times and Momentum; the founder of Cyclofemme; the woman behind the nation’s largest bike share systems… and so many more. And we mean business when it comes to making this event accessible to all. Bring your kids: We’ll have free childcare. If the $85 registration fee is a barrier, apply for a scholarship.
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Bike Shop Girl in 2013

It’s an amazing thing, the first day of a new year and everything that it allows a human to feel. You are able to have closure for the year past and take a deep breath to move forward into the next 365 days of progress.

First to Look at Personal Ties

Behind the scenes I took the past week to plot out a lot of restructure, efficiencies and honestly cleaning out clutter (including storage with lots of wheels for sale!)
Pulling back from the things that stretch me thin with small results and honing down on key things for more impact. Turning my personal life more to an in person life, while still utilizing social media aspects in my personal life. I’m focusing more on push channels such as Instagram, Spotify and Twitter which pushes out my content (or consuming music which pushes out the feed of what I am listening to.) An outsiders view of my Facebook wall will look active, populated with photos from Instagram or Flickr, my Spotify tunes in the corner, and morning inspirational quotes that I am timing out through Hootsuite two weeks at a time to deliver around 7am EST to both my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts. I won’t be on Facebook though, I won’t be sucked into looking at hundreds of photos, liking post or reading random post that get me riled up and losing time that I didn’t have to lose.

Pushing Bike Shop Girl into 2013

In the past I’ve spoken about finding my words for Bike Shop Girl now that I work as a rep within the industry. Reviews have to be sparse, advertising limited as I’m really trying to promote local bike shops, and I don’t want this outlet to only be a personal blog for rants (those will always be apart of the structure.)

Motivation, Inspiration and Empowerment

Three words to live by in our daily life. To leave this world a better place then we found it, that is how we all should look back at our life!

In 2013 my goal is to motivate, inspire and empower you as a cyclist and maybe even a bit as a human being. We are an interesting group, those that chose two wheels for hobby, transportation or passion. At the end we use the same style of vehicle to move us forward in life. Let’s all pull together and focus on making our community stronger, smarter and safer.

Design and Feel

One of the pieces that kept me up late over the past few weeks was the look and feel of Bike Shop Girl for 2013 to support the above goals. What will the site look like, a personal blog, a magazine and how will that flow? I’m pulling in a couple friends to consult on this and you should see the end result soon.

While I’m still focused on women, I realize that guys will come along for the ride. All of us need motivated, inspired and empowered! Looking at the demographic of my followers on Facebook it is split pretty evenly women to men. The reviews, product and mission of this site is not changing, but you may see more guys writing as guest authors.

Guest and Monthly Columns

Bringing in guest writers and friends to author columns will be part of reaching more computer screens, minds, interest and people.

Focusing on specific topics for a week, month or quarter of time. The first series will be from now through first quarter focused on keeping people riding when the weather is crappy. Articles of motivation, tips to keep your bike running, ideas of staying warm and maybe just great photos of playing in the snow.

If you are interested in helping feel free to drop me a line! arleigh at gmail.com

Let’s Do This!

Keep the words flowing, keep the ideas and questions pushing at me. Let’s make 2013 our best year yet, together we can motivate, inspire and empower each other.

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Favorite Memories of 2012

Granted, 2012 is not over. But here are some snapshots that have captured some of my favorite memories of 2012. There are some missing, apparently I didn’t go crazy with Instagram until mid-summer.

This morning's commute
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Passing Gas

Sorry to disappoint but this post is not about farts.  I’m a big fan of really bad puns, so the title actually refers to passing cars while on a bicycle.  But, who doesn’t like a good fart reference?

A guest post on getting by without gas from Laura Colbert from Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA. 

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