DALLAS, TX (BRAIN)—Storeowners in central Dallas can thank the local bike paths for much of their business success. Retailers visited on the last day of the Dallas Dealer Tour reported strong sales of fitness hybrids that they attributed largely to the popularity of the Katy Trail, the White Rock Lake loop and the White Rock Creek path.
Dallas Bike Works opened its first location along the White Rock Creek trail five years ago in a building that had housed a bike shop since the early 80s. When the most recent owner went out of business, Boyd Wallace, a former customer, opened his own store. “I always thought I could make a good shop out of it,” said Wallace, who previously cut hair at a salon across the street. Six months ago, Wallace opened his second store at the end of the trail where it meets a commuter rail station. He said his primary customer base is families riding the 9.3-mile loop around White Rock Lake, one block away. For that customer, he does a solid business in $500 hybrid bikes. But he’s also developed other niches, launching a Tuesday night fall cyclocross race series two years ago. He embraced 29ers five years ago, becoming known early on as the 29er shop in town. “It’s mainstream now,” said Wallace.
Formerly family-owned, Wheels in Motion was purchased eight years ago by a two-person investment team. Noncyclists, they rely on staff such as general manager Tony Ferguson to manage the business. Located between White Rock Lake and the Southern Methodist University campus, Ferguson said the single-store business is driven by families purchasing hybrid bikes to ride the loop and college students purchasing entry-level mountain bikes. “I can sell $380 to $500 bikes all day long,” said Ferguson, adding that locks and cables also are mainstay items with students. The shop narrowed its selection of brands last year due to the economic slowdown and now carries 95 percent Giant bikes. Ferguson said he has found carrying one brand to be an easier sell. “We’re not confusing the customer with too much choice,” he said.
Bicycle Plus is located on the other side of the SMU campus in a narrow retail space with bikes stacked two deep and hanging from the ceiling. But store manager Dallas Perry said although it is busting at the seams, the owner doesn’t want to give up its desirable location on a tony shopping street in a wealthy residential area. “The amount of disposable income in this area is high,” said Perry. Owned by Marcia Gorczyca since 1995, the three-store chain decentralized ordering two years ago to be more specific to the needs of each location. The Snider Plaza shop sells everything from kids bikes to high-end road and tri bikes. “We do a smattering of everything,” said Perry. Hybrid 700c bikes are a huge category for the shop, because of its proximity to White Rock Lake. “To be in a metro area like this and have a resource like that for cycling is amazing,” said Perry.
And located right off the Katy Trail in Uptown Dallas, about three-quarters of Transit Bicycle Co.’s service business comes from recreational riders who get a mechanical while riding the popular 3.5-mile multi-user trail, according to Micah Horton, one of the shop’s three employees. The 1,500-square-foot shop is on its third ownership and third name, starting as Uptown Cycles and then becoming West Village Bicycles. When the owners of Adikt Footwear, a shoe store a couple of doors down, bought the business a year and a half a go, they changed its name to Transit Bicycle Co. “We haven’t lost any business with the name change,” said Horton, adding that foot traffic increases significantly on weekends due to its location in a popular shopping area and proximity to bars, restaurants and upscale apartments. The new owners also changed the store’s product focus, stocking more fixed-gear and single-speed models from the likes of Bianchi, Cinelli and Schwinn and becoming known for its trick track bikes.
For more photos and details on the last day of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Dealer Tour, go to the BRAIN blog.
PHOTO: We rode a portion of the White Rock Lake loop on our way to Dallas BIke Works. (Photo credit: Jake Orness)