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Southern California’s ARB Cyclery closes its doors

Published June 4, 2018

IRVINE, Calif. (BRAIN) — After serving Orange County cyclists for more than a decade, ARB Cyclery’s last day of business was May 31.  

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Bruce Marshall bought the shop, then called A Road Bike 4 U, from founder Bob Murphy in 2009. Marshall took the store, which catered to the high-end road cyclist, from 1,200 square feet to 3,600 square feet in 2011, and over the years built up a loyal clientele. The shop offered group rides and clinics, coaching, VO2 max testing, massage and bike fitting, and Marshall said it had become a destination shop.

“We were one of the first in the region to use Retül fit and have a Guru Dynamic Fit Unit. We built a road shop that had all the services a rider needed. But things have changed. Online competition, shrinking margins, showrooming and high sales tax affected us. A tax of 7.75 percent on $5,000-$10,000 bikes is a lot, and when the customer can buy it out of state from other retailers with no sales tax, we felt that,” Marshall said.

“And, I’ve also come to realize that people are trained not to buy at full retail anymore, and with the internet having lower prices, you do feel like you’re stuck. There are so many headwinds in this business that made it really not worth the effort anymore. People get into it because they enjoy, which I did. But financially, it was tough.”

ARB Cyclery employed three people in addition to Marshall when it closed. The shop liquidated most of its inventory before closing. While selling the business was an option, Marshall said a successful deal never materialized. ARB sold Bianchi, BMC, Pinarello, Cervélo and Mosaic. ARB offered bike rentals, sponsored numerous charity rides and events and also led bike tours of Orange County.

“We tried to generate service revenue, beyond bike repair, by offering coaching, massage and other services,” Marshall said. “But in an effort to increase other revenue, there are more moving parts and more factors that come into play. It’s an incremental process, and it wasn’t a magic solution — at least not enough to offset overall shrinking margins and higher costs.”

Bike fitter Barrett Brower, who worked with ARB for several years, will continue to offer fits for a few months in the shop’s former storefront. Marshall said he plans to return to a career in commercial real estate development, and hopefully, ride his bike more often.

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