Deconstructing bicycle shop showroom floors from visits I made yesterday to the Angry Catfish, the Hub off of Lake St. and Calhoun Cycle in Minneapolis. On my visit to the Catfish I encountered a modern coffee shop atmosphere upon entering. The laid back scene is spacious and comfortable but divorced from the showroom. That is a good thing for the customer who comes in to get a cup and is busy doing busy stuff that you do in a coffee shop. I busied myself with the latest issue of Urban Velo and coffee then I wandered back to check out the bikes. This was third visit to in the past eight months. I was surprised to see quite a few of the same bicycles I saw on those earlier visits. The three dozen bikes on display had the sort of sameness or tiredness you would associate with wallflowers. I don’t know why a shop person didn’t come over and ask me if they could answer any questions. Maybe they sense tire kickers and know when someone has brought their wallet with them. Many nice bikes that I would use if I needed a replacement bike which I don’t. I lean towards steel frames that are fast and flexible. On display were Surly and Raleigh standards that appeal to males who want a sturdy commuting experience. Prices were not on all the merchandise though. There was a Colnolgo frame set hanging off a display with a Speedhound frame set. Both orange. Eye catching. Money I don’t have. But who does anymore? I wandered over to the Electra bikes. I want to try one in the Spring. What will the feel be when I straddle an Electra with those wide bars and geometry? I haven’t seen anyone riding one yet. Are these selling? Well, after a long as heck winter, the Angry Catfish is like every shop. They are ready for people to start thinking bikes again to get the cash flow flowing. So on my way and out the door for a snap ride to the Hub.
The streets were mostly dry today. The Masi is my ride and I can tell you I am loving it. The bike is light, it weighs about 21 pounds. Reynolds 853 and Reynolds Carbon Fork. The REV 2 handlebar cuts every hill in half. The Campy shifter is taking some getting used to hand positioning but is so smooth. Thanks to the great deal I got at Re-Cycle, $20.00 for a vintage component is a steal. After a headwind I arrive at the Hub. There is a mural that is going up in sections. It has that Russian worker look to it. Photo op next time I’ve over that way.
Enter the Hub. On my left is the cashier check out. A guy and a chick. The chick says hi and before she can say anything else I tell them I’m just looking. There is a sale going on. Nice three speed Jamis for $269. Lots going on with this bike as a sturdy first bike if that is fun and dependable. Everything is on sale. It looks like the Hub wants to move some inventory. Hard to tell if these are bikes from last year. Good variety of bikes for racing, MTB and transportation. Prices were visible on all bikes and the bikes overhead are spaced far enough apart to identify type of bike.
I was treated equally well at both shops by sales methods that are hands off. If this works for a shop I am afraid to ask. When I go into a shop and see employees engaging customers with a sort of buzz then I feel compelled to dig deeper into products on display or items that I don’t see. How many times have you walked into a place and you are treated like you are invisible? Bundling back up for the ride home I decided to drop in at Calhoun Cycle in Uptown. Calhoun might be the most focused shop in my area. They have their niche. A mix of recumbents, folders and commuter style bikes with swept bars or drops. Displays are easy to access and the three employees were busy with customers inside and outside the store. I looked around and saw they did not have a single track trailer but other styles. I asked about the item and was told they could order one for me. My previous experience with Calhoun is they are low pressure but get to the point readily to see how they can help. Engaging a customer even when they are just looking might make your place of business inviting for those people like myself that have a back story to biking.
Each one of these shops has appeal for bikers, the deals right now are at the Hub. The Catfish is great for gathering and getting that special bike, and Calhoun can’t be beat for personalized service and gear that is hard to get.