Local shops make Top 100 list

Bicycle industry market research firm, Boulder Sports Research has announced their 2007 Top 100 Bike Shops.

Out of 5100 shops nationwide, Portland’s very own River City Bicycles and Bike Gallery were named to the list.

The shops were selected by local sales representatives and judged on store appearance, market share, and community outreach (more on the methodology here).

Both shops are featured in the current issue of Bicycle Retailer Magazine and were asked to share what sets them apart. Here are their answers:

Bike Gallery:

Bucks for BMX benefit screening

[A vintage BMX jersey.]

“We have a culture of living “green.” We are very concerned about the health of our community so we promote bike commuting within our organization and in the community.

We recycle many items, use renewable energy when possible, and we use “green” building practices. Our customers and staff appreciate the commitment to sustainability.”

River City Bicycles:

Cross Crusade #2 - Portland, OR

[River City is known for their clever ads.]

“River City Bicycles is a store run by bicycle fanatics and business enthusiaasts from the top down. We have an indoor test track, a cappuccino bar and a shrine to Eddy Merckxx.

All of our fixtures are custom-made of cherry mahogany and ash. River City Bicycles is also the home of Full Wood Fenders and Reach-around fender brackets.”

Both shops are also loyal and long-time supporters of BikePortland.org (and many other things in our community).

Thanks and congratulations are due to owners Mark, Dave, and Jay and all their fantastic employees that keep us riding smoothly all year round!

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sam hill
sam hill
15 years ago

I’d be much more interested to see a ranking done by customers rather than sales reps. Seems like there would be an obvious bias towards shops that sell more widgets.

For instance, the two shops in Seattle are two of the larger shops in town. I personally would never rank them as best in terms of customer experience, not that they are bad.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Attornatus_Oregonensis
15 years ago

As a former Seattleite, I have to agree. There is a great place in Fremont that holds free basic repair classes — that sort of thing goes a long way with me.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
15 years ago

I agree customer ratings would be great…but this list is based specifically on three things…and customer service was not one of them.

You should direct feedback to the guys who did the research:

Thomas Prehn
President
thomas@bouldersportsresearch.com

JJ Rudman
Director of Market Research
jj@bouldersportsresearch.com

Mike
Mike
15 years ago

These rankings are done by customers. Maybe not directly, but most people do not frequent businesses that treat them poorly or have poor selection.
According to Bicycle Retailer: “(these stores) were selected because they excel in three areas: market share, community outreach, and store appearance.”
Based on that criteria, I should think that the two shops selected only make sense, whether you are a customer, sales rep, or even an employee.

Steve
Steve
15 years ago

Customer service definitely not a factor! I frequent both of these shops (although only one by choice, employee benefit thing) and I have had pleasant experiences at one and felt like an inconvenience at the other..a la City Bikes. Bought bikes from both, would only buy again from one.

Curt Dewees
Curt Dewees
15 years ago

Steve, sorry to hear you had a less than pleasant experience at Citybikes (Citybikes Workers’ Cooperative). Citybikes didn’t make the Top 100 list.

Sometimes people confuse the names of Citybikes and River City Bicycles because they sound very similar, but they are two very different entities with very different business models.

elmira
elmira
15 years ago

““We have a culture of living “green.” We are very concerned about the health of our community so we promote bike commuting within our organization and in the community.

We recycle many items, use renewable energy when possible, and we use “green” building practices. Our customers and staff appreciate the commitment to sustainability.””

This is absolute bullshit….

There are zero incentives to commute by bike at this organization. ZERO!

As to the “green” “renewable” “recycling” etc.

Pure and utter crappola. This is a company whos primary concern is the bottom line. I have had a lot of jobs and this place has done more to make me feel expendable than any other business I have worked for.

Nothing but a bunch of wanna be corporate shills in charge. Souless the lot of ’em.

Mike
Mike
15 years ago

Elmira-
Some people commute by bike because it is the smart thing to do. The incentives are self evident and well known, and not everyone needs additional money to chose to commute by bike. I am sorry that you feel differently.

“As to the “green” “renewable” “recycling” etc. Pure and utter crappola.”

It is obvious that you do not know what you are talking about. I would call and ask what they do in those areas, rather than just refuting without basis.

Souless, perhaps, but I am certainly not a corporate shill wanna be.

elmira
elmira
15 years ago

How exactly do you promote bike commuting within your organization?

My main point is that all the words used in the little propaganda blurb have nothing to do with reality, or the company. Just a pile of steaming PR bull-whooey…

As much as River City sucks, at least they don’t sound like a drone from the movie Office Space.

Jo Routens
Jo Routens
15 years ago

So how about a few really good stores–NW Bicycles, Sellwood, Coventry…….

Steve
Steve
15 years ago

Curt,

Didn’t mean to refer to CityBikes in the context that they were one of the two, just meant that one of the two treated me with the same disdain that I was exposed to there. Oh…to clarify it was River City Bicycles.

bArbaroo
bArbaroo
15 years ago

Elmira –
Sounds like you had a bad experience at the Bike Gallery, I’m sorry about that. I especially don’t like hearing that you felt expenable – no one should experience that. I experienced that at another local company (not a bike shop)and I’ll never speak well of my manager there. In fact I’d call her heartless.

But is it really necessary to generalize and throw stones at the whole company and its people? I’ve had a different experience here.

I’ve worked for the BG off and on for 14 years and I HAVE observed many green practices over the course of those years. We’ve been recycling at a high level for a very long time and have worked with recycling experts to do as much as we can. I know this because I’ve participated in the discussions.

Regarding incentives to bike commute at this work place…for me, it was never necessary, riding is just who I am. I think that’s the case for so many of our staff and so maybe I need to be educated about how incentives would work where the staff already lives and breathes bicycles. Really.

We may pay attention to the bottom line here because we learned that’s how we provide secure employment to the 100+ year-round staff. Without attention to finances we couldn’t do that. No, we can’t provide that to every employee and hard choices have to be made every year about laying staff off in the winter. Sadly, that has little to do with being corporate shills and more to do with the reality of a seasonal business – and staying in business.

But, the bottom line does not dominate every decision. If it did would we provide health insurance and 401K plans to year-round staff, would we support dozens of community events, would we send staff out to local businesses to talk about bike transportation for FREE, would we appear on the bridges (9 times last year)with coffee and free repairs, would we pay staff to volunteer repairing trails?

Finally, I’m not sure who those corporate shill wanna-bes are that you refer to, I have a hard time pinning that label on any of our managers. Maybe I’m one and don’t know it. BUT for sure we are NOT a soulless lot. If I know one thing about myself and the people I work with it is that we care very much about our customers, the community, our coworkers, and yes, the planet. You may not like us, and I’m sorry about that, but calling us soulless goes a bit far, don’t ya think?

I’m not saying we are perfect here. I know that we (individually and collectively) make mistakes. So,
for others who have had a bad experience with us, please tell us directly – email or call one of us; or better yet talk directly with the person who has caused the offense. We can’t change our behavior unless we know what we are doing wrong.

Adam8
Adam8
15 years ago

I’m curious why stores are being rated on Market Share (the % of sales in their market that they account for). It has very little to do with quality of service and everything to do with how monstrously corporate a shop is.

Also, it’s sad that these determinations are made by sales reps, as they’re almost certainly biased.

Although I don’t do much shopping at River City at all, and only a little at BG, the experiences I’ve had at BG have always been mediocre.

I’d honestly say that the best shop in town is BIKE CENTRAL down on Naito and Ash. They may not have everything a commuter could ever want, but they can probably order it. They’ve got the hottest bikes in town hanging on their walls. Dean’s THE GREATEST mechanic I’ve ever encountered, despite his surliness, and Jenn is the nicest shop owner ever. Regardless of what you want, they can do it/get it, and do it right the first time.

Joel
Joel
15 years ago

Elmira

I read your stimulating comments and felt compelled to comment myself. Speaking of…… “words used in the little propaganda blurb have nothing to do with reality, or the company. Just a pile of steaming PR bull-whooey…” Perhaps what you say is true, but it appears to me your comments are nothing more than negative propaganda and a negative pile of steaming PR bull-whooey.

In fact, in my humble opinion, your comments have very little to do with reality. As for my experiences in my almost 20 years here at The Bike Gallery, I would observe precisely the opposite of your point of view based on facts that you obviously have no knowledge of. You seem to base most of your narrow anti-green argument on the fact that there are no incentives to commute by bike at The Bike Gallery. I believe there is more to being green than just riding your bike to work.

I have watched a 20 year + veteran of our business spend a couple of hours pulling nails out of old lumber post demolition so that the wood could be reused or re-cycled. Not that he was told to perform this, but rather he wanted to do this and most importantly allowed to do this. I have watched truckload after truckload of cardboard getting picked up for re-cycling almost every day for years. Why, because this is the right thing to do. Furthermore, The Bike Gallery pays thousands of dollars extra per year to purchase wind power through our electricity providers. Why? Again, it is the right thing to do.

As for the issue of bike commuting, the majority of our staff ride bicycles to work simply because it is the right thing to do. Sure there are a few who are unable to ride their bike to work every day because of the realities of time and distance, but these folks are in the minority. As a matter of fact, the thought of a Bicycle Retailer in bicycle crazy Portland needing to incentivize employees to ride their bikes sounds a little absurd. Now that we are on the subject of incentives, the Volunteer for Good program at The Bike Gallery has far more potential to do something positive for our community. I and many of my co-workers are able to volunteer in the community in many different ways and with many different organizations and are compensated for our time and efforts. For example, the recent Holiday Drive at The Community Cycling Center saw upwards of 30 volunteer hours by Bike Gallery staff members. Now does this sound like a business that is only focused on the bottom line?

As for your claim that those in charge are “a bunch of wanna be corporate shills”…. and “Souless the lot of ‘em.”…. I for one know that I have a soul-Why just last night I was groovin to James Brown and getting in to it! No, seriously, you dishonor my many co-workers who I am very proud to be associated with. You obviously have spent little time and effort to get to know the hard working folks at The Bike Gallery. Would you call a Store Manager who just spent a week in Mississippi leading a group of teenagers volunteering for Habitat for Humanity “a Soul less corporate shill wanna be”? Or would you call another Store Manager who won an Alice B Toeclips award at last years BTA Alice banquet for her efforts to promote employment opportunities for women, training and mentoring other women who are interested in making bicycles their career… “a Soul less corporate shill wanna be”? Or would you call Jay Graves the owner of The Bike Gallery who has volunteered countless thousands of hours volunteering and giving thousands of dollars to the BTA, the Community Cycling Center, Cycle Oregon, Coalition for Livable Communities, National Bike Dealers Association and others “a Soul less corporate shill wanna be”? Hardly! I think the record speaks for itself.

Certainly, as a successful business we are forced to pay attention to the bottom line, but what is wrong with that? Isn’t this just a realty of being in business? Our goal of creating a sustainable business that provides for its families and engages in our community can only happen if we are profitable. And unlike the dozens of bike shops that that have come and gone in my almost 20 years in the Portland cycling scene-we will be here tomorrow!

Finally, as for the results of the Top 100 poll from Boulder Sports Research, perhaps the poll criteria are shallow and miss the mark. So take it for what it is. I for one believe there are many great Bike Shops in Portland that deserve accolades as well. The many and diverse shopping experiences in our cycling community are one of many reasons why Portland is one of the greatest cycling cities in the world. All of us as a community should be proud of what we have helped create here in Portland.

Joel Grover
“Soul-less” Bike Gallery Buyer

earl
earl
15 years ago

We are very concerned about the health of our community so we promote bike commuting within our organization

I think that is what she was referring to….

So anyone? How do you promote it within your organization?

anonymous
anonymous
15 years ago

I have nothing negative to say about the two shops that won these awards, but the criteria does seem cheasy. this whole Top 100 Dealer thing screams corporate given the criteria and who is voting on it. If you went to the Bicycle Retailer website and looked under the criteria for their awards you saw that they gave great thanks to Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, Raleigh, Scott, Pearl Izumi and a few other similar corporate sales reps for their help in the decision. I think this speaks loud and clear on what its all about…. corporate schmoozing. these companies may be some of the largest in the industry, but I dont find them to be the heart and soul. to exclude all the small niche, unique companies that have more heart and soul than any of these others could hope to have is a shame. usually the larger the company, the more they care about the money they are making. Not always, but shamefully too often. QBP is the one company on their list that I think breaks this mold.

Mike
Mike
15 years ago

How I love to attack the successful! It’s so easy to hate those who are big and have clout. Whether it is a parts supplier, bike manufacturer or local family owned business; down with them all!

Curt Dewees
Curt Dewees
15 years ago

I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that for the past 6 or 7 years, just two shops in Portland have won the “Best Bike Shop in Portland” award in Willamette Week’s annual “Best of Portland” reader’s poll: Bike Gallery and River City Bicycles. Some years Bike Gallery wins; some years River City Bikes wins; one year they tied.

These annual awards aren’t chosen by the editors, or the publishers, or sales reps. They are chosen by the readers (i.e. the WW readers who also shop for bicycles and bicycle parts & accessories).

I worked for River City Bicycles for five years, and I could write a book about the successful business practices I learned from Dave G., the owner and founder of River City Bicycles. He’s really a good businessman, and he’s also very humble his success.

He started out from very humble beginnings, and he earned his success the hard way, putting in countless hours of work for many years, learning the bike retail business from the ground up, learning how to do things the right way, and treating people the way he would want to be treated if he were the customer.

IMHO, both Bike Gallery and River City Bicycles have both grown and become very successful businesses because they both do a good job at the basics: providing good products and good customer service at fair prices.

They will only continue to succeed in business as long as they continue to deliver on those key essentials.

Natron Bomb
Natron Bomb
15 years ago

I have had the pleasure of working at both of these shops while in school and feel they both try as hard as anyone can to excell at customer service. Some of the small shops are only nice if your bike is single speed and cheap.Bike central is a joke(ask any messenger).Try going in to City bikes with a suit on and see what happens. It is not easy being green or gr$$n, but somebody has got to do it. I would say more but I have to finish my T.P.S.report cover sheet.
Peace out