SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BRAIN) —Riders and sponsors braved the rain on Thursday, heading east to Folsom and Carmichael and racking up 45 miles out-and-back mostly along the American River Trail, an often-cited gem in the Sacramento region.
Here’s an overview of the shops we visited:
Brad Winter and his staff welcomed our group with hot coffee and a breakfast spread that included muffins and fresh fruit. They set up portable heaters throughout the store where we could warm up after a wet 23-mile jaunt along the American River Trail to historic Folsom.
Winter, who has worked at the 6,000-square-foot store for a decade and oversees operations as general manager, said Bicycles Plus has been riding the wave of a warm winter this year. The rain over the last two days slowed sales that up until now had been ahead of last year despite ongoing construction and redevelopment in downtown Folsom.
It’s one of a “dying breed” of shops that carry both Trek and Specialized as its main brands. Winter said the store sells a fair amount of fitness bikes because of the nearby trail (Trek’s FX 7.3 flat-bar hybrid is its best-selling model). “Folsom is really a cycling-friendly community with a lot of trails in the interior of the city, a lot of cyclists and a lot of families,” Winter said.
And many of them are upgrading to new bikes instead of replacing parts on their old ones, a sign that the economy is recovering. Its average bike sale is around $1,100.
Close ties to the local community and involvement in events like the Folsom Cyclebration, a three-day festival that includes races, rides and an expo, fuels its success. Last year, the criterium course circled the store. Winter estimates that the annual festival draws more than 1,000 to race road, mountain and to ride the century.
BMX Hall of Famer John Crews opened Bicycles Plus on a shoestring budget in 1989 after a storied career racing. Today the store, which has undergone several expansions, has a staff of 15 employees during the peak selling season and annual revenue of $3 million.
Steve Loebach was waiting at a crossroads along the American River Trail to lead us to Carmichael Cycles, a retail store about a mile from the most popular trail in Northern California. The store, located in an unassuming strip mall, is a key meeting spot for cyclists heading out for a spin. “We have people driving in to ride the trail all the time. We couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Loebach, the store’s manager.
It had been raining most of the day and store traffic was light. The store’s owner, Leon Iannarelli, had driven in for the day from Vacaville, where he operates a second store along with a small but thriving Web-sales business. He’s been selling bicycle parts and accessories online for about 10 years at precisionbikes.com. And he has a few words of advice for would-be cyber entrepreneurs.
“It’s pretty much of a free-for-all out there online,” he said, “and it’s not nearly as easy as some people think.” Still, Iannarelli has made his mark with Loebach’s help—the pair has worked together since 1982. Fuji ranks Carmichael Cycles as one of its Top 5 outlets.
The store had once been supplied by Trek, but a mutual parting of the ways in 2004 led Iannarelli to pick up Fuji. The region had become oversold with Trek products. “Everybody had a Trek and the 5200 had just saturated the market,” Loebach said. Besides Fuji, the store added Orbea about the time Iannarelli dropped Trek.
Road bike sales have been rock solid for the 4,300-square-foot operation, Loebach said. Like most retailers we’ve visited, the price point for carbon road is between $1,500 and $2,500—generally spec’d with Shimano’s 105 or Ultegra groups.
The store takes its name from the city of Carmichael, an older, well-established city with generally upscale neighborhoods adjacent to Sacramento. The store is just one mile west of Sacramento’s city limits.
Justin Monzon made the switch over to Performance Bicycle three years ago after working at City Bicycle Works, a specialty bike shop in downtown. He started as service manager at Performance’s Fair Oaks store and soon was selected to head the Sacramento store as its general manager.
The store, one of a dozen Performance locations in the Northern California market, is located in a strip mall on busy Howe Avenue. It opened eight years ago and appeals to the area’s student population, drawing business from college kids attending Sacramento State and UC Davis, Monzon said. Students also make up the majority of its staff, which numbers 11 year-round.
Its sales are skewed slightly more to the road side, with its bread-and-butter in sub-$500 flat-bar comfort hybrids. The store can’t keep enough Fuji Crosstown and Absolute models in stock, Monzon said, adding that it doesn’t cater to elite cyclists but more the newcomer and entry-level rider as well as families. Accessories, clothing and bikes all take up equal thirds of the showroom floor.
Much like other retailers in the area, Monzon said the store’s proximity to the American River Bike Trail makes it a convenient starting point for group rides.
—By BRAIN staff