Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 31st, 2011 at 11:23 am
Open for business
New logo and wooden sign.
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(Photos © J. Maus)
Earlier this month, we shared the news about River City Bicycles' new outlet store in Southeast Portland. The shop opened for business this weekend and I stopped by for a quick look inside on Sunday.
"First sale was to a guy on his way to Wal-Mart to get a mountain bike for his wife. Instead, she got a nice Gary Fisher."
— shop owner David Guettler
River City owner David Guettler caught my attention via Facebook when he shared about the first bike sold at the store. It happened just after opening on Saturday and went, "to a guy who was on his way to Wal-Mart to get a mountain bike for his wife. Instead," said Guettler, "she got a nice Gary Fisher."
That's the basic idea behind this new outlet store: Nice new bikes at low prices. For a store like River City — known for its racing heritage and jaw-dropping selection of high-end bikes and parts — an outlet store is an interesting direction. But for Guettler, it's all about giving people more options to find the right bike at a good price.
Guettler also notes that his new outlet store isn't beholden to any one specific brand. If you're new to how the bike industry works, brands and suppliers — especially large ones — can have a big influence over what bike shops sell. Wary of that influence, Guettler is excited that his outlet store is not brand specific. He shared more with me about that on Sunday:
"I don't think it is healthy for small independent businesses to become beholden to their corporate suppliers. They, like any business, will make decisions that are in their own interest, not ours or our customers."
The flexibility to sell whatever he wants, combined with decades worth of relationships in the bike industry, means you never know what you'll find at the new shop.
On Sunday, River City Bicycles Outlet Store employee Brian Zeck showed me a few of the bikes they've got in stock right now. From a brand called "Virtue," they've got a nice-looking six-speed for just $370 and a singlespeed,coaster-brake model for $270. Another brand you won't see at the other River City is GT. But at the outlet, they've got a big mix of GT models, including a "Traffic 2.0" urban bike. It's a nice mix of parts and a solid frame for just $550 (retail is $730).
Zeck also pointed out a full-carbon Bianchi road bike that retails for $3,000 but they're selling for just $1,800. "There's only one of them at that price, but someone is going to get one hell of a deal and be very happy."
Given the nature of how they purchase bikes (a mix of supplier closeouts, bulk purchases, and overstock from River City's other store), Zeck says the inventory will be constantly changing.
With its corner location right of Belmont at SE 6th, the shop is sure to get a lot of traffic. Will it spur other shops to consider outlet stores? Will it spur the demand for more low-cost brands in Portland? It will be interesting to see how it evolves and how its presence alters the local bike shop ecosystem.
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