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Brooklyn's 718 Cyclery launches online bike bag business

Published April 22, 2019

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (BRAIN) — 718 Cyclery, a small shop that has developed a big reputation with regional adventure riders and others, is launching a new side business online, The Bike Bag Market.

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718's owner, Joe Nocella, told BRAIN he's hoping to generate national sales in a specialty where his shop has expertise.

"We tried to think of things that make us unique, where we can get a healthy margin, where we are protected price-wise," Nocella said.

Nocella said the barrier of entry was low. He built the site himself on Squarespace in about 20 hours. Initially he doesn't plan to add staff or much inventory. Order fulfillment will be done out of the shop. He plans to promote the business with content on Instagram and Facebook.

"If I have to hire someone to do fulfillment, that would be great. That would be a good goal to have," he said. "We're going to throw the net in the water and see if we catch a lot of fish and then figure out if we need a bigger boat. But we're not going to sit inside these four walls and let the industry tell us how to do things." 

He planned to send an email to bag vendors on Monday informing them of the new business. "We not asking for anything. We're not looking to partner with anyone. We are just telling them that we are hoping we sell a lot more bags and letting them know we are going to be ordering them."

718 Cyclery has done very little e-commerce business in the past, but Nocella has thought about how to expand that business. "We are not going to sell derailleurs. Who would buy a derailleur from us? That's not how it works. But with bags we have a high margin item that we specialize in," he said. He said most bags provide margins over 40 or 50%.

The Bike Bag Market offers bags from about 18 brands, including Arkel, Blackburn, Ortlieb, Salsa, Surly, and Shimano. Nocella said he plans to maintain MSRP but will offer "Bag of the Week" specials that are 10% off with free shipping and a free T-shirt. 

718 Cyclery has diversified a bit from cycling already, carrying tents and sleeping bags and other camping items for adventure riders and other outdoors people. The shop leads weekend "micro-tours" from Brooklyn to introduce people to bike camping. 

Last year, Nocella launched a new website and store-within-a-store devoted to camping and adventure gear, called Mighty Hatchet Adventure Shop and Outfitters.

 

Nocella said that initially The Bike Bag Market will not have a separate store-within-a-store like Mighty Hatchet. "We may put up some signage and T-shirts," he said. "But otherwise we will just display bags like we always do in the store."

He said the store had recently redesigned its bag display to make it easier for shoppers to touch and grab the bags. "People like to see things in person, and they like to see if the bag will fit their laptop, if they can wear it with their jacket, whether a pannier will fit their racks ... " he said. "We did notice that the better we display things, the more sales we make. That's like retailing rule number 1 from 4,000 years ago."

Related: 718 Cyclery grows in Brooklyn (2011).

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