DENVER, CO (BRAIN)—Bicycle Retailer & Industry News editors capped off three days of riding in the mile-high city on Friday with visits to Salvagetti Bicycle Workshop, Golden Bike Shop and Wheat Ridge Cyclery.
Scott Taylor, 34, admits that how he came to own a bike shop was more by happenstance than by plan. “I didn’t plot this business out—all of a sudden I woke up and I had a bike shop,” said Taylor, owner of Salvagetti.
Taylor, who had worked in a couple of bike shops, was laid off from a big-box store, and with a small loan from his parents opened his first store in a 400-square-foot space across from his old employer. Seven years later he’s on his fourth location in downtown Denver (he’s outgrown the previous three). “We’re killing it,” he said, adding that its urban location gets a lot of foot traffic.
Of all the stores we visited, Salvagetti Bicycle Workshop stocks perhaps the most eclectic mix of bikes and accessories, spanning from Surly commuter bikes to Kona dirt park and ‘cross bikes to custom Parlee and Mosaic steel and titanium bikes. Santa Cruz and Pivot round out his off-road offerings.
“We serve a wide customer in terms of wealth—from Surly to Parlee,” he said. Offering a full size run of Parlee demo bikes isn’t cheap, but make his store a destination shop.
Messenger bags from Chrome hang alongside touring bags from Arkel and packs from Osprey; and as far as apparel and shoes, it’s Louis Garneau and Giro.
A year ago, Taylor added a coffee bar to the mix. His intent was to sell freshly brewed java and a few parts for commuters on the go from a separate window early in the morning, but it hasn’t quite panned out. “Denver doesn’t get it,” he said, adding that many people come by asking for service or repair and think the entire shop is open.
Over at the Golden Bike Shop, one big challenge is getting cardboard to the recycler. The 2,000-square-foot shop gets close to six turns a year and cardboard quickly builds up outside. Given its average sale is $3,500, the small footprint doesn’t appear to hurt sales.
“Our demo program is core to the shop’s success. Riders pay $150 and can compare up to six bikes. The rental fee is deducted from a new bike purchase,” said Adam Williams, manager of the Golden Bike Shop.
Trail systems in Golden and nearby Lakewood are where most Denver mountain bikers head on the weekend, so the shop is ideally located to service riders looking to research a new bike purchase.
The shop keeps more than 50 demo bikes ready for the weekend rush. And Williams said he’s growing the number of fat-tire Surly Pugsley and other bikes for winter snow touring, keeping the store’s demo business in play when the snow falls.
Eugene Kiefel, founder of Wheat Ridge Cyclery, looks at his son Ron with an impish grin explaining his key to success was low overhead, something lost on the next generation.
Ron and his brother-in-law, Gil McCormack, oversaw an extensive remodel of the shop, which was completed in 2007. The remodel didn’t add much showroom space, but it consolidated the showroom from a warren of connecting spaces. It also left the low-overhead bike shop chic in the dust, transforming the space into a stylish 30,000-square-foot retail space.
“We don’t really sell many more bikes now, but our average selling price is much higher than before,” Ron said. “Given how nice the store is, I think people are more comfortable buying higher-priced bikes from us,” he added.
Wheat Ridge’s high-end boutique sales of Seven and Serotta bikes has declined, something Ron attributes to that customer liking a small shop’s mystic of insider knowledge.
For photos from day three of the Denver Dealer Tour, click on the link for our Facebook photo album.
(Story photo: Jake Orness. We rode past Coors’ Golden, Colorado, brewing facility on our way to Golden Bike Shop.