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Loveland shop rises from store's ashes

Published January 27, 2012

LOVELAND, OH (BRAIN) Jan 31, 04:39 MT —Husband-and-wife team Tom and Sarah Swallow met while working at Cycle Sport, an 8,000-square-foot bicycle retailer that occupied three storefronts in this Cincinnati suburb. When Cycle Sport closed down in September 2011 after 16 years in business, the couple believed they could make a bike shop work in the same location with a “less is more” strategy.

In early January, they opened Swallow Bicycle Works in 1,600 square feet in one of Cycle Sports’ former trio of storefronts. “We wanted to bring the overhead down and create a more personal environment,” Sarah said.

The Swallows—Tom is a longtime mechanic, while Sarah’s expertise lies on the business side of bike retailing—fashioned nearly all the store’s fixtures, including the L-shaped counter, out of recycled wood. They also created an open service area. “We allow the customers to be part of the service experience,” Sarah said.

The shop has focused on service and accessories so far but has lined up a list of bike suppliers and should begin selling rigs this week or next from such brands as Kona, Masi, Haro, Linus and Salsa. It will also offer frames from custom builder Mosaic of Boulder, Colorado, and will sell used bikes on consignment.

For P&A, they want to offer brands difficult to find in their market, such as Mad Alchemy, Joshua Tree Products, Craig bags and King titanium cages. And if that means having to buy those products online and not get top margin, they’re willing to do that, Sarah said.

Longer term, they hope to leverage Tom’s fabrication experience into a line of shop-branded frames produced in small batches. And once the riding season arrives, they promise a wide variety of shop rides.

“We’re considered mountain bikers that also road bike. Our passion is cyclocross racing, but we definitely participate in everything,” Sarah said.

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