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The LBS


Old No. 7
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Story continues: To put more context on the time period, Specialized Bicycle Components started in 1974, buying components in Europe and reselling them to shops in the states, mostly California as that's what the founder knew. In 1975, Specialized began making tires and eventually got into building bicycle frames, selling to independent bike shops around the country. Trek Bikes started in Waterloo WI in 1976. Selling their bikes to independent bicycle shops around the country. At the time, I don't think there were any large national chains selling bikes. Two of the biggest manufacturers at the time, Schwinn and Huffy, sold to anyone that would buy their product to sell at a profit. Japanese and European brands were stealing market share from both of these companies. Spokes worked with both Trek and Specialized, getting lines of credit to buy inventory with generous repayment terms. Sales were good. In the beginning, though they were competitors, Trek and Specialized didn't mind too much that the independent bike shops were carrying both brands as long as hey sold a respectable amount of their brand. As both companies gained market share through the 80's and 90's, they applied pressure on retailers to drop their competitor's products, A lot of small shops did, but Spokes remained independent and said no we will carry both and consistently ranked in the top 50, sometimes top 10 retailers for each brand. Spokes also carried small brands like the custom titanium frame builder, Seven. The custom steel frame builder, Waterford and Gunnar, owned by the grandson of the old man Schwinn himself. Salsa and Surly bikes were also carried in limited supplies. Spokes grew to six stores in Northern VA. Two in Alexandria, one in Vienna, Ashburn, later Leesburg, Fairfax and Arlington. Growing up in the area, I knew of them but rarely shopped there as they had some of the highest prices in the area. The employees were knowledgeable, friendly, and easy to talk to but you could always find a better deal at Performance. To be continued.

 

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Sounds very similar to the Richardson Bike Mart story.  When I bought my first real bike from them they carried Trek, Specialized,  Cannondale and quite a few small independent builders.

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My LBS went the other way. They were exclusively a Trek dealer and when Trek dropped their line of comfort bikes and were pushing their much more expensive road and mountain bikes my LBS started selling other brands. I would have bought another 520 but they said they couldn’t get it until October 2022. It worked out for me. I needed an excuse to buy my Lynskey.

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11 hours ago, Old No. 7 said:

Last post: the owners are selling the chain to Trek. The stores are going to be rebranded to the Trek name. It’s not unexpected by me as the owners, in their own words, aren’t in their 20’s anymore. Switch won’t happen until March. I don’t know if I’ll stay on or not. Probably not. I’ll miss the people I know there, the discounts, and the extra beer money. Life goes on. 

Makes me super sad as have bought multiple Specialized bikes there over the years and they're my go to shop for all service.  We've got two Treks, so it's not like we don't like Trek, but I'm deeper in the Specialized camp for sure.   Still, a nice run for them.  I wonder who becomes the "big" Specialized shop in the area now?  I'm not a big Bike Lane guy and the A1 LBS isn't too big (but do carry Specialized).  Green Lizard is good, but also not a Spec. shop.

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