DEER VALLEY, UTAH (BRAIN)—Orbea plans to open a company-owned concept store this fall in Little Rock, Arkansas, home of the Spanish brand’s U.S. headquarters.
The store will replace the outlet store Orbea opened in late 2008 to sell its dated and blemished stock. The new shop is scheduled to open around Sept. 1.
The idea is to develop a forward-thinking retail model where the store acts as a hub of the cycling community, said Tony Karklins, managing director of Orbea USA.
“This project is trying to think what bicycle retailing is going to be like in 10 years,” Karklins said during an interview Thursday at PressCamp, where Orbea is launching its top-of-the-line 2011 Orbea Orca road bike.
Karklins envisions the store with an art gallery like vibe where local bike clubs gather to watch the Tour de France or cyclists attend clinics on fitting or women’s-specific instructional courses.
In researching the concept, Karklins traveled the country visiting shops rich with bike culture that were built around trails, bike paths or coffee shops. He cited Salt Lake City’s Contender Bicycles as a success story in creating a reason for consumers to visit beyond just the product it sells.
“I look at computer stores and record stores and they’re gone, but they didn’t have a reason to exist,” Karklins said.
Another purpose of the store is to act as a controlled test market for other models, categories and pricepoints in the European brand’s range.
It will not compete with other Orbea retailers as there are none in Little Rock or the surrounding area, and there are no plans to expand the concept to other U.S. markets, Karklins said.
A second Orbea-owned store is planned for Seville Spain, about 500 miles south of the company’s home in Mallabia.
Photo: Orbea's Tony Karklins shows the new Orca at PressCamp in Deer Valley, Utah.