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State of Retail: How do you engage with youth cycling in your store and community?

Published June 11, 2024

A version of this feature ran in the June issue of BRAIN.

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — For our June magazine edition, we asked our State of Retail panel members: How do you engage with youth cycling in your store and community?

CARSON CITY, Nev: Win Allen, owner Win’s Wheels

Win Allen

We are predominantly a service shop, so carrying kids’/youth/family bikes does not fit our business model. We will never sell kids’, youth, or family bikes, but we do sell accessory items like bells, training wheels, consumables, and service replacement parts like tires, tubes, chains, brakes, et cetera. We have only been open for six months in our current location, and we’re coming out of a very slow winter, so we haven’t yet gotten involved in our community; however, I can let the cat out of the bag and say that our shop will be the official neutral support for all of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) races in Northern Nevada, and we will be working with our local NICA teams and holding bike maintenance/tech nights at our shop.

CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio: Jacob English, owner Mountain Road Cycles

Jacob English

We carry kids', family and all of the above. It is a generational commitment to our clients. While you may sell a high-end bike to a customer, they very well have had their parents buy their first bike from you. Then they will have the grandparents buy their first kids’ bike. It is essential. We stock as many kids’ bikes as we can and dedicate about an eighth of the showroom for the youth market, including helmets, bells, gloves, et cetera. To be honest, it's a lot more rewarding to see a kid smile on their first test ride or to pick their colors out. If the manufacturers could manage to have inventory constant especially in spring, it would go a long way. There is no need to run out of kids' bikes or model years. We foster our community with numerous programs, including Safe Routes to School, Bike to School Day, and a Fourth of July Bike Parade and decorating. We also sell and maintain fleets of bikes for local camps, schools, and YMCAs. Partnering with youth development race teams is also a plus.

CHICAGO: Gillian Forsyth, owner BFF Bikes

Gillian Forsyth

Selling bikes to kids is one of my favorite things. Kids’ bike sales only account for 2.5% of our annual sales, but I feel it’s important to include them as part of our inventory. At BFF, we have created a "kid zone" with all our kids’ bikes and accessories. It is in a small corner of the store, but it is fun. I normally have at least one of each size in stock. We also carry a brand called Kinderfeet, which are small wooden tricycles that turn into balance bikes. It’s a great first bike option. We stock kids’ helmets, little pink and blue locks, baskets, kids’ bags, and child seats as well. They make good birthday gifts. We unfortunately do not have the floor space to carry cargo bikes, but we will special order them, and we do service them. Our neighborhood is full of them. We help kids learn to ride with one-on-one lessons and allow trade-ins when kids are purchasing a bigger bike if the bike is bought from us.

NEWINGTON, N.H.: Steve Gerhartz, owner Seacoast E-Bikes

Steve Gerhartz

Young children love being hauled around on cargo bikes. We strongly believe that their experiences will make them more interested in biking as they grow. As an all e-bike store, we do not carry kids' bikes per se; however, we do have a kid’s e-MTB that Specialized produces that has 24-inch wheels and is speed capped at 16 mph. We carry a variety of e-cargo bikes that young families purchase to transport children, and it is quickly becoming a more important category. Many families are ditching the second car in favor of an e-cargo bike, especially if one parent works from home and the schools and shopping are within reach. We are aligned with many area nonprofits that promote youth cycling and support them in a variety of ways, including cash and equipment donations.

WINTHROP, Wash.: Julie Muyllaert, co-owner Methow Cycle & Sport

Julie Muyllaert

From the get-go, we wanted to serve all ages of the bicycling life stages. In our early years when space was limited, we carried a small selection of kids’ bikes and special ordered specific sizes and models as needed. As we grew and moved to a larger building, we were able to create a child and youth area where we display everything from balance bikes to youth bikes, along with helmets, gloves, bells, streamers, and other accessories. While this category doesn't make up a large percentage of our revenue, it serves our community and families well, which then generates additional business. To support cycling for kids and families, we develop local trails that offer a progression of riding experiences, partner with local organizations to offer annual bike rodeo skills clinics, and sponsor the local youth cycling club and team. As we approach our 20th year in business, it's been fun to see a whole generation of kids grow up and develop a love of cycling.

AUSTIN, Texas: Audrey and Mark Sze-To, owners Electric Avenue

Audrey and Mark Sze-To

We carry family cargo bikes and find them to be an important and integral part of our business. It appears to be a growing segment of the market as more people look for alternative solutions to driving where they can enjoy the outdoors, ride with their kids, drop them off at school or day care, go to the park, shop, and commute. We also carry kids’ helmets, child seats, and other accessories from our manufacturers that are kid/youth/family oriented. Our customers say this is very enjoyable, and more people are interested in adopting this way of getting around with their kids. Parents with kid-carrying cargo bikes seem to understand that they are teaching their kids the importance of cycling and transitioning their kids to learn how to ride their own bikes. A family trip to cycling cities around North America, the Netherlands, Germany, or many places overseas, always seems to stimulate cycling interest in kids of all ages and parents alike.

LITTLE FALLS, Minn.: David Sperstad, owner Touright Bicycle Shop

David Sperstad

We have a one-cent gumball machine for children and a shop dog, Coco, they love to see. We like to make “biker gangs” out of families, and want to start kids riding young, so life-long riders they become. We carry balance bikes, 12-inch and 16-inch children's bikes, 20-inch BMX, tag-a-longs, and all sorts of other bikes for youth to ride with families. We carry helmets, gloves, bells, whistles, baskets, and many other accessories to help youth enjoy the ride. We do have training wheels, but try to encourage families not to use them so we sell a training bar and buy it back once they've mastered it. Speaking of buying back, we do buy back youth bikes purchased from us when they grow to the next size up. We have followed or watched children grow up with us, from balance bike to full suspension mountain bike. We have balance-bike ramps, cones, and a starting gate/platform to take to community events, and the smiles are endless. It's been fun.

ALAMEDA, Calif.: Larry Tetone, event coordinator Alameda Bicycle

Larry Tetone

Our primary focus is being a family bike shop. In the last year, half of the bikes we sold by volume were some type of kids' bike. We drive that through a trade-up program. When families bring in their old kids' bikes that we sold them, they get back half of what they paid from that bike applied toward the next size up. Those used bikes get donated to local charity groups. The other side of the equation is cargo bikes, both acoustic and electric. A silver lining for us this year has been e-cargo bikes, and most importantly, accessory sales. Accessories on e-cargo sales oftentimes totals 15-20% the MSRP of the bike, which in general is much higher than their analog counterparts.

Gillian Forsyth.
Topics associated with this article: From the Magazine

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