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Barney’s adds store, reinvents original

Published June 4, 2012

WORCESTER, MA (BRAIN) Monday June 4 2012 3:15 PM MT—Barney’s Bicycles has moved to a new building that offers better exposure to customer traffic, and is reinventing its old location as a used and vintage shop.

The new location on Park Avenue, Worcester’s main drag, offers more parking—15 spaces versus four—and doesn’t have the old store’s disadvantage of being set back between two triple-decker houses.

“This is in a much nicer area of the city, so economically it’s nice to show the kind of product we have,” owner Peter Howard said.

That product includes bikes from Giant, Fuji, Raleigh and Diamondback, topping out at $1,000 to $2,000 at the high end. “Entry level is our specialty, and that can get into some pretty serious stuff depending on budget. But we love to get people into the sport. That’s our forte,” Howard said. “I want to sell people what they want to buy and what they need. I’m not a big up-seller.”

He also takes advantage of closeouts and deals on bikes from past model years to deliver value to customers, Howard added.

The “Barney” in the shop’s name is Howard’s father, who founded the business in 1976 and passed off the reins to his son in 1983. The elder Howard designed and built the original store, which Peter Howard said is admired by customers for its classic character. “It’s really loved by a lot of people as a real bike shop instead of a mall store,” he said.

Howard’s now upping the character quotient. A self-described pack rat, he’s been busy digging out old signs and bikes including 1950s Schwinns, ’70s Raleigh Choppers, ’80s Peugeots and wood-rim bikes that will make the original store part museum, part vintage/secondhand shop. “I have things in the cellar that were junk in the ’90s but have turned into cool vintage stuff now,” he said.

Meanwhile at the Park Avenue location, Howard has already seen his apparel sales spike thanks to his new clientele. “I used to be lucky to sell a pair of shorts a week. Now I’m selling clothing every day,” he said.

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