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Brooklyn's R&A Cycles going bicoastal

Published February 11, 2019
Plans to open 10,000-square-foot store in Northern California’s East Bay in late 2019.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (BRAIN) — By the end of the year, Brooklyn, New York, online and brick-and-mortar retailer R&A Cycles plans to open a new 10,000-square-foot store in Northern California’s East Bay Area. R&A operations manager Albert Cabbad declined to detail where exactly the store will be located, but said he has secured a space.

“We have tons of clientele in that area from online, and we want to get closer to them. So we’re not going there to shake people (retailers) up. We’re going there with a retail concept we think the industry needs,” Cabbad said.

“We can very easily go into the boutique model, but we don’t want that. We want it be very comfortable for everybody — whether you’re spending on a custom bike or buying a leisure bike.”

That concept begins with hiring the best sales and service staff possible and paying them 20 to 30 percent above prevailing wages, Cabbad said. “Most shops have that one guy who’s ‘the person the see.’ I need eight of those. We’re looking for the best of the best of the best.”

He added: “Consumers are sick of typical, intimidating, unknowledgeable bike shops. Most of them cringe when they have to go to a bike shop, or they expect attitude or unknowledgeable people. A lot of consumers know more than the salespeople.”

Some elements of R&A’s store in Brooklyn will carry over to the East Bay location, including a new take on the R&A Black concierge custom bike service and the shop’s soon-to-open Sensei fit studio. The East Bay location will also include R&A’s first café, serving coffee, beer, wine and sandwiches.

The new store will also offer R&A’s key brands store-within-a-store opportunities to highlight their products and stage events.

“We’re enticing our brands to be more committed to themselves and to representing themselves. What that means is that you’re going to come into an uncluttered business. In typical bike shops brands are begging for space, so we have plenty of it. It’s going to be comfortable for brands to spread their wings and do events, product launches and special experiences,” Cabbad said.

Additionally, a 500-square-foot “experience sector” on the shop floor will be available for suppliers to stage pop-up events.

With the new location in a more mountain bike-accessible area than New York City, Cabbad has been talking to niche MTB brands to come on board and complement R&A’s existing portfolio of bike and P&A suppliers catering to the off-road crowd.

“Road is still our jam, and that’s what we do best. But mountain is a close second, and we think we can level that out with this new space,” Cabbad said.

R&A historically has catered to the high end of the cycling market, and Cabbad plans to do the same in Northern California while also striving to make the new location accessible to all riders no matter what bike they ride.

“The end result is to create a culture that consumers love and enjoy. The best part of riding is riding, but the second best part is the camaraderie and the freedom to be part of this group. It’s almost tribal in a way,” he said.

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