What's the deal with dealers? Part 2 of 2
Gerard Vroomen - 05-Feb-2016
Yesterday I explained why we don't have 1,000 dealers but the past years we really had too few in the US. The reason was simple, Andy’s focus can only be in one place at a time and setting up Europe properly was a big task (and I'm too lazy, haha, no, I'm working on the product side of the business).
That said, we’ve had some amazing dealers in the US, such as Pro Bike Supply in Newport Beach, which was with us right from the start and has supported us through thick and thin. Being small, we can only survive with the generous support of others, and nobody has supported OPEN the way Mark Cohen from Pro Bike Supply has. It’s definitely been a good relationship for both sides, as the OPEN bikes are flying out the door at his shop, but he also takes care of our fleet of demo bikes for the media, helps us with the demo days at SeaOtter and Interbike and provides very regular feedback on our products or the latest crazy builds he’s done.

Another great shop since the early days is Victory Bicycle Studio in Memphis, a store that is maniacal about customer service in all ways imaginable. It also helps that the owner is a very strong cyclist and regular Leadville participant. Not only that, he also took on all the preparation for four OPEN customers who did the race.

Now that we’re focusing more on the USA (for example by attending Interbike for the first time last year), we’ve been very fortunate to add a few more retailers. R&A Cycles from Brooklyn came on board, and they are a true original in the bike industry.

I’ve known them for a long time, they have a huge following and they have enormous stock levels of the craziest things. They are the ultimate cyclist's candy store. I remember once being in the basement storage of their old Brooklyn building and seeing five Mavic IO wheels. That’s a lot for a $3,000 five-spoke wheel, but what was really crazy was that these were track-only, and in 650c size. I’m pretty sure even Mavic never had five of those in stock!

Anyway, R&A just launched their OPEN dealership officially last night, and they put up some gorgeous photos of the bikes they built.

Another great new store is Contender in Utah, regularly cited as the best store in the US. They are serious about their stuff, I think they had enough staff at Interbike to fill a roster for a Continental Pro team and maybe even a World Tour team. Our first meeting at the show was actually a coincidence, one of them walked by and saw the U.P., but then they all came back several times to soak up (no pun intended) all the product knowledge and they’ve now started to stock up (pun intended) on OPEN in earnest.

You can read a nice review of OPEN U.P. by their resident product specialist Julian here, and it includes a build they did for a customer with flat bars on the U.P. Maybe the traditionalists can't appreciate it but then again, what's traditional about the U.P. anyway?

I don't want you to think that we think North America stops at the 49th, we're also expanding in Canada. A great new OPEN retailer is the11inc, which is a new store run by Heath Cockburn. Yes, I know the store is in Toronto, which is below the 49th parallel, but let's leave that for what it is as I'm pretty sure we've lost most non-Canadian readers already.

I've known Heath almost as long as I've been in the bike industry, as he was hire #3 at Cervélo if my math is right. We've had some crazy times together, and it's nice to continue it in this way. Heath's new store is super-nice with great brands, and the staff is all about customer service.

Maybe that's the common theme for stores that do well with OPEN; they are all about customer service. They all approach it quite differently, but in the end, they provide their service in a way that makes people come back again and again. And it's great for OPEN to be associated with stores like that. 

These are just five stores, there are many more around the world (just not 1,000) and so we will add a "Store Of The Month" category to our Bike Of The Month postings. As Andy and I will be visiting these stores, we’ll write about the store itself, the owners, the staff and hopefully also about the local OPEN customers. So see you soon at a store near you, or at least within 4 hours of you!
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