Category Archives: Shop news

News about Chain Reaction Bicycles

Not a day to repeat; news about our Los Altos store

Today got off to a less-than-stellar start; on the regular Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride, Kevin was lagging pretty badly up Kings due to a pretty severe headache and yes, we actually turned back before the end of the climb, at the archery range. After returning home, Kevin spent a good part of the day in Kaiser ER, where they never could figure out the cause of the headache.

But the least-fun part of the day (and it takes a lot to top your kid spending the day at the ER!) was having to send out an announcement to customers that we’ll be closing our Los Altos store towards the end of September, just 6 weeks away.

We’ve been without a lease for 4 years, 4 very long years in which we’d been working with the landlord for a solution that wouldn’t have us bleeding money, 4 years in which he pitched this and that plan for changes in the shopping center that could benefit us, 4 years in which we saw sales steadily decline, at least in part due to it becoming tough to access our part of the shopping center due to overflow from Trader Joes.

I know nothing about shutting down a store; neither does my brother Steve, who’s basically started that store 24 years ago. Obviously we’ll be moving a lot of stuff into our Redwood City location, and just as obviously we’ll try to sell what we can so we don’t have to move so much. No specifics yet, but if you’re interested in store fixtures, hey, we got ’em!

Has the ‘net destroyed the simple truths? Should buying a bike be so hard?

I was going over marketing ideas with my daughter (Becky), thinking about ways to bring people in for bikes. It’s tough competing with all the clutter out there, and it’s equally tough getting someone’s attention, sometimes even when they’re in the store, because they’re so concerned about knowing everything they overlook the obvious.

We’re told we have to master Google AdWords, we have to send out bi-weekly emails and figure out new services to offer all the time. And sure, you need to do all that (never mind that many really good customers either intentionally or accidentally remove themselves from our e-list because they get too many emails and an email from a local brick & mortar business is somehow more intrusive than the 5-10 emails they might get each week from Amazon and yes in fact that¬†does hurt my feelings a bit).

But what about the idea that, you come into our shop, and you’re not going to get fed a bunch of techno-nonsense, you’re not going to get some young guy trying to mold you into some unattainable yoga shape on a bike because that’s how he rides, and you’re not going to be talked into a 16 pound $4000 carbon road bike if what’s appropriate for how you’re going to ride is a $1000 hybrid or maybe a $2500 e-bike?

Most importantly, you come into our shop and we’re going to try and addict you to what we believe is the fundamental truth. That thing that attracts people thousands of miles so they can be ushered into the Dalai Lama’s presence.

Life goes by at exactly the right speed on a bike.

How do you say that? OK, I just did, but what if you had to shorten this to just two paragraphs?¬† –MikeJ