I came across this video on Vimeo and was entranced by the ideology behind the bike shop. I’ve always thought of bike shops as being friendly, collaborative spaces and have never found a bike shop employee that is mean or comes across rude. I’m sure they’re out there, but are much fewer and far between than other retail employees. The 718 Cyclery takes this feeling a bit further with what they term as “the inverted bike shop”.
Looking at their business, you could describe it as a friendly bike shop, but it goes much further than that. You can tell that they are passionate about bringing others into the biking world and helping them succeed. What struck me first from the video was the fact that Joe knew to approach each customer differently in regards to building their bike. He recognizes that each some customers want to get in there and get their hands dirty while others want to live vicariously and simply watch their bike being built. And Joe is cool with this. He knows that however he gets the bike he is building into this persons life, he is going to be doing it how they want to. I think that this is an amazing strategy and something that other shops should consider when working with customers.
Another key element to this shop is their community interaction. If the biking world had a shop classification of ‘library’ the 718 Cyclery would be considered as such. I think of a library as somewhere you go to get knowledge, take classes and find out information about your community. The 718 Cyclery does just this. They offer classes about maintaining your bike that are free. Yeah. Just thinking about this is a pretty cool thing. The people at the shop recognize that their time is worth investing into the surrounding bike culture to strengthen it. They recognize that by giving people knowledge and giving their time away for free, they are most likely going to get rewarded with free word of mouth advertising and a customers willingness to return to their shop when their bike needs servicing.
Also, they have movie nights!
If you or someone you know works at a bike shop, consider sharing this information with them. It’s intriguing to me to know how this ethos could spread and grow through the biking community and I think that it’s exactly the right approach to integrating more people into the culture.