BY MEGAN TOMPKINS
TEANECK, NJ—When Brian Dyches got a call from Michael Kastner about designing a new retail store, he had one condition: it had to look different than existing specialty retail.
“I was not willing to take on the project unless he was willing to think beyond the current design,” said Dyches, vice president of Watt International, the firm that designed 3rd Nature.
Kastner, an entrepreneur with several successful restaurants in Bergen County and a bicycle enthusiast, recognized the opportunity for a bike shopwith a unique retail environment. Kastner approached Michael McTigue, an industry veteran and former owner of Tenafly Bicycle Workshop, about partnering on a new retail concept.
The duo opened 3rd Nature in July in New York City’s affluent suburb of Teaneck, in Bergen County. Sitting opposite Manhattan in Northeastern New Jersey, it is the most affluent county in the country in terms of per capita income.
Kastner and McTigue spent hours envisioning a high-end retail format that encompassed the lifestyle of their target customer.
“It started before even a single nailer or screw gun was picked up, bringing ideas and impressions together,” McTigue said. “We interviewed several consultants and decided Brian and the Watt group really got it.”
Dyches said one requirement was that the store met the same compelling standards as an Apple store. It had to have a clean aesthetic and streamlined product selection.
“We created a clubhouse of sorts with a bike gallery feel; it’s not exclusive art you couldn’t touch, but art you could touch and admire,” Dyches said. “It’s an actual gallery that celebrates the lifestyle and culture of people buying those types of bikes.”
The pro shop sells triathlon and road bikes from manufacturers including Cervelo, Colnago, Look, Lynskey and Parlee. Accessory lines such as Oakley, Mavic, Sidi and Zipp complement its own private-label line of cycling clothing. The store also features a nutrition center, massage studio, training center, travel center, fit center and state-of-the-art maintenance center.
Tom Fowler, director of sales and service for Cervelo, has seen a lot of bike shops over his 18 years in the business. He found 3rd Nature very impressive.
“The first thought that came to mind was Madison Avenue. It has a Giorgio Armani type product presentation,” Fowler said. “With a product like Cervelo bicycles, which is very technical, very advanced in engineering, it stands to reason a consumer that is interested in experiencing such a product would be interested in doing so in a comparable environment.”
The 2,500 square feet of retail space is convertible. Custom fixtures on casters can be easily moved to create a theater for classes or events hosted by coaches, nutritionists and podiatrists. 3rd Nature also is partnering with local businesses to create events and promotions that cater to affluent consumers.
“We’re working with people that do wine tastings and Lexus dealerships and high-end gyms and spas that offer goods similarly aimed at what I call ‘connoisseurs of life,’” McTigue said.
“We spend quite a lot of time talking about bicycles and history, hooking them up with coaches and letting them try products,” McTigue said, adding that 3rd Nature is investing heavily in a demo fleet.
McTigue said too many retailers market to the same people with fairly similar products in a struggle to get a larger piece of the pie.
“We’ve seen proof in Cadence and Paul Levine at Signature Cycles, that lots of people are willing to spend $5,000 to $10,000 on their first bike,” McTigue said. “But most cycling venues are not catering to this person or even acknowledging that they exist.”