Colorado Springs Bicycle Retail Market at a Tipping Point

An interesting look at the Colorado Springs bicycle retail scene from the Colorado Springs Business Journal

...But walk a few blocks south and you’ll find Old Town Bike Shop, an independently owned business that has been operating since 1976.

Old Town is scarcely the last of the Mohicans. A dozen or more substantial independent bike shops dot the region, amiable competitors who have managed to out-market, out-maneuver and out-sell the big-box stores that dominate most retail categories.

Among American retailers, bike shops are unique. Although chain stores such as Costco, REI and Wal-Mart sell more bicycles than independent retailers, small locally owned stores have a larger market share when measured by sales dollars.

That may be because bikes haven’t changed all that much since 1905. A 2012 automobile is far easier to drive than its 1905 ancestor, but a fast road bike still is a costly, complex, demanding piece of machinery that can be either a joy to ride or a literal pain in the butt.

“Our sweet spot are the bikes that cost from $400 to $1,200,” says Nic Ponsor of Criterium Bicycles. “You need to have good professional advice when you spend that kind of money, and the bike has to fit you and be professionally assembled. A big-box store that’s paying some clueless sales person less than $10 an hour can’t do that.”

High-end manufacturers are also supportive.

“Specialized and Cannondale don’t sell through their websites,” Ponsor says, “and they understand the value of their dealer networks. They know that we support and enhance their brands.”

After several flat-to-down years, the city’s higher-end bicycle retailers have enjoyed substantial sales increases in 2012.

“I’d say that we’re definitely on an upward trend,” says Ed Johnson of the Colorado Springs Bike Shop, a long-established Westside store. “There were two or three difficult years, but I’m cautiously optimistic now.”

Ponsor is even more positive.

“We’re having one of our best years,” he says. “It’s been as good as any we’ve had.”

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