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Black Friday a Boon for Some, Bust for Others

Published November 28, 2011

NEW YORK, NY (BRAIN)—The record number of shoppers who turned out for Black Friday may have been encouraging to retailers overall, but bike shops contacted Monday by Bicycle Retailer reported mixed results for their sales promotions over the long holiday weekend.

Despite deep discounts on bikes and 2011 summer clothing, customer traffic was slow at Sid’s Bikes NYC’s Westside store, noted Alex Jacobson. Sid’s offered the first 25 customers $45 Giro winter riding gloves for $10, but even after extending the offer for the entire day a few pair remained at close of business Friday, Jacobson said.

Cycles de Oro in Greensboro, North Carolina, held a “Technicolor Four-Day Sale” on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and saw its best result ever for the weekend. “We’ve always tried some variation on the [Black Friday] theme but it has never been particularly successful—until this year,” said owner Dale Brown. Sales jumped 30 percent on Friday, but the weekend overall was up a whopping 250 percent from 2010, Brown said.

He said his busiest day was Saturday, widely promoted by retailers as Small Business Saturday, and that the bulk of his business for the weekend was 2011 closeout bikes as well as clothing, helmets and stocking stuffers like bike computers and tools. He skipped paid advertising and instead used Facebook, email blasts and Cycle de Oro’s website to drive traffic to the sale.

The Path Bike Shop in Tustin, California, also used social networking and email blasts—as well as fliers posted at local trailheads—to promote its second annual Black Friday weekend sale. Sales at the store were on par with last year, and owner Tani Walling said he might change up his strategy to grow sales in 2012. “I think we might try some kind of door-buster program next year,” he said.

In Rolla, Missouri, Route 66 Bicycles owner Daniel Fuhrmann decided to sit out Black Friday. “I looked at our numbers for the last few years, and it just didn’t seem to be worth it. We’ve kind of learned in the past that you’re pretty much going fishing when there’s nothing biting,” said Fuhrmann, who noted that Small Business Saturday also was slow at Route 66.

Fuhrmann instead organized a 33-mile Black Friday ride on the gravel and dirt roads of Mark Twain National Forest. Favorable weather helped to bring out about 20 riders, which Fuhrmann deemed a success given his location. “Things shut down in the winter in the Midwest. It’s rural Missouri, my friend,” he said.

—Toby Hill

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