01 May Ride Like a Girl!
“You could not pay my wife Dolores to step foot in a bike shop” – Customer Bob Harr.
Bob loves and supports our concept of coffee and bicycles (and now beer and wine). He says that he has never been in another bike shop that has women customers around every time he visits.
Bob has seen that women are an under-served segment of the cycling industry and our own Kim Pierce aims to change that here in Saint Petersburg.
Kim is the assistant store manger at The Bikery. Kim was hired with a mandate to foster our women’s cycling community and to start rides for beginning cyclists. Kim owned a bicycle shop in Chicago for 11 years. Out Spoke’n was known to cater to women cyclists and women would come from miles away for that experience. Kim’s store was open in the 90’s and at that time every manufacturer was pushing their line of bicycles made for women. Trade magazines were touting the need for retailers to cater to women as a means for growth.
Fast forward almost 20 years later and the same articles are being written in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Very little has changed and many women continue to feel uncomfortable in bike shops.
This was one of our customers actual experience while bike shopping recently: She walks into a bike shop and says “I am looking for a road bike. Do you have any size 54 for women?” The sales rep’s response is “yeah, they are over there” with the point of a finger. No wonder women do not like going into bicycle shops. This may not be not the experience for every female customer but after one bad in-shop experience it is no wonder many women turn to on-line shopping.
Bike shops today have a lot more women employees in them than when Kim was a mechanic in the 80’s. Going into a bike shop then was to be awash in a sea of men. That is not the case today. Women sales people and mechanics are in almost every bike shop, yet industry wide many female customers are still seen as a ‘growth’ area. It is not enough to stock bicycles designed for women and shorts and jerseys sized for women – you have to care about the experience women have while in your store.
Kim has been working to make sure our women customers don’t just love riding their bikes, she wants to make sure they don’t hate buying them or getting them serviced!
Lets take a look at three of Kim’s customers:
Kim met Patti over the phone . She saw a picture on the website of a flat fix seminar held at The Bikery and said “hey, those women look like me.” She said I am not fast enough to do club rides yet and riding by myself is no fun. I bought this beautiful BMC and now I am considering selling it for lack of use. Patti was having issues with her bicycle on all contact points hands, feet and saddle. Then she had a fit that changed her position on the bike. She started riding with a good group and Patti is now comfortable on her bike and is training for a week long ride in the hills of Virginia this coming June.
Michelle is the person that convinced Patti to get a fit. We fit Michelle to her sportive bike. She lives in the U.K. so we can call it that without sounding pretentious. When she went back home she wanted her fit dimensions so she could apply them to her road racing bike. Why didn’t she have that experience at her local bike shop? Here is what Michelle had to say: “Going into any bike shop can be nerve racking. This is due to the fact that as a woman you are often treated with indifference if you are not considered a ‘serious’ cyclists or a man with money to spend. How very wrong they are. I am a serious cyclist, I may not race or do 100 miles in a ride, but I am serious about my love of cycling. I also have money to spend, so how wrong are they about that?
Michelle says: “The Bikery is so different. From the moment you walk in the door you are treated with equal respect no matter your gender, age or perceived spending power. I spent 6 months hanging out at The Bikery and I came to realize that the biggest difference between other shops I have been to and The Bikery is that everyone at The Bikery has such a genuine love of people first and then cycling and that’s what makes them stand out. There is a tradition in Nepal where they drink 3 cups of tea to do business: the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join the family and the family is willing to do anything for you. The only difference between this tradition and The Bikery is that when you walk through that door at The Bikery you are treated as a friend first and never a stranger – have a cup of tea – and you will be family for life. I can testify to that! Thanks a million for not being the standard.”
Pam had been tossing around the idea of getting an entry level road bike but every time she went to a local bike shop, she was just “overwhelmed.” Pam is an avid runner with numerous half marathons under her belt so her fitness level was there but knowledge on what to buy for her entry-level road bike wasn’t. One day her husband said to her: “Go try the new bike shop with the coffee on 1st South” Pam recalls. “I walked in after work and was looking around still feeling overwhelmed. Next thing I knew Kim walked up and said hi and asked if I needed help” she recalls. Pam talked about her experiences and what she was hoping to buy. Kim suggested she bring in her current Marin hybrid bike and we could see if we could make some adjustments and/or enhancements. Pam was excited to find someone who wanted to help and who made the process easy. They talked about sizing, possibly upgrades and a few adjustments. We talked about the Moots Bikes but it was out of her price range. (Now we offer several more road bike brands including Raleigh.) “Kim answered every question I had and made me feel like I was the only person in The Bikery.” This is where it gets a little crazy. “I just randomly stopped by a co-workers office whom I heard did some biking. I asked her what kind of bike she had and where she goes biking. She then mentioned she had a Specialized Ruby Sport that was too big for her and that she wanted to sell it. I asked what size and it was the size Kim had recommended for me. I went to her house that night and bought it”, Pam recalls. “I think it was a span of 5 days that I went from walking into The Bikery to rolling in with the my new Specialized Ruby to show Kim and schedule a true fitting.” It was crazy how fast everything happened for Pam. “I can’t say enough about Kim. I will always go to her with my questions. She got me to where I am today with my road bike and she became a friend. I always look forward to going out on our weekly Saturday morning rides. Kim & The Bikery are an A+ Bike Shop (& coffee shop) and I’m a loyal customer and fan!”
Kim leads group rides Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. . . so stop in and say hello and maybe she can talk you into giving a group ride a try.
You can also reach Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org