TEMPE, AZ (BRAIN)—Retailers in the Valley of the Sun have carved out distinct niches to differentiate themselves from other stores within the Phoenix metropolitan area, as riders on the the BRAIN Dealer Tour of Phoenix saw first-hand yesterday.
A former road racer, Kevin Weitzel opened Tribe Multisport in Scottsdale in 2004 as a tri shop to stand out. “It was a market no one had touched in the valley at the time,” he said. Although the store carries a wide selection of running apparel and swimming accessories, bike related sales account for 70 percent of his business. Connected to the shop is a shared retail space with a performance trainer, a massage therapist, indoor training space and an infinity pool that is used for training and testing wet suits. “I wanted something like an Olympic training center with retail,” said Weitzel, adding that the only thing missing is a velodrome.
Tempe Bicycle is all about price and selection. “If it’s not here, you won’t find it anywhere,” said Bud Morrison, who opened the store with his wife Yvonne 35 years ago. Morrison estimated the store has 3,000 bikes in inventory, many of them out on the floor. Morrison buys closeouts and overruns from a variety of suppliers to build up his stock. “People would laugh at our inventory turns, which are low, but it contributes to our profitability being able to run special deals,” he said. With two locations in Tempe on the ASU campus, it services the university’s 68,000 students. It also offers a wide selection of BMX frames, parts and accessories for suburban kids who are taking to the local skate parks.
Dominics 2 Wheelers, a recently remodeled 5,000-square-foot store a mile from the ASU campus sells variety: everything from cruisers to flat bar hybrids to road bikes. It caters mainly to the college and commuter crowd in Tempe, said manager Brady Gay. Gay estimated students make up as much as 40 percent of customers. He builds 10 wheelsets a month with custom hubs and colors for students who have jumped on the fixie trend. It still surprises him to sell fixies as a fashion statement not a training tool, but he’s not complaining. “It flabbergasts me, but it’s a big part of our business,” he said, pegging fixed gear products as 10 percent of total sales.
Adjacent to South Mountain trails, Cactus Bike is known as the downhill shop in the valley but owner Brian Anciaux isn’t afraid to think outside the box. For the past four years he has opened temporary holiday stores at local malls to target mall shoppers looking for gift ideas. “My original thought was it would drive traffic to retail locations. But it ended up making money,” said Anciaux, who has three permanent locations. His main focus is on growing its guiding and rental business designed to capitalize on Phoenix as a tourist destination. Rentals and tours is currently 15 percent of his business, but it’s a nice piece, he said. “It’s the most profitable,” he added.
For more on the dealer visits and riding in Phoenix, visit the BRAIN Blog.
Photo of Bud Morrison, owner of Tempe Bicycle, and BRAIN editor Megan Tompkins by Jake Orness. The shop welcomed Tour riders with a personalized message on its LED sign.