Joe Nocella (second from left) and some of the crew from 718 Cyclery.
Joe Nocella, owner of 718 Cyclery in Brooklyn, NY, thinks local bike shops have a lot to offer customers. He’s created Bike Shop Day as an open-source event to show just how much. In this edited Q&A, Nocella talks about a little idea he hopes can turn into something big.
What is Bike Shop Day, and what inspired it?
Like every other retail establishment on the planet we see less and less foot traffic. We wanted to think about ways to get people into the shop, and do that during a slower time of the year for us. A few of our employees are associated with the record industry and collectively threw out an idea out about Record Store Day. It’s a national event that becomes almost like a holiday in the independent music scene. The more we dug into it, the more we thought it was really cool. And there are parallels between the record industry and the bike industry in terms of retail models undergoing some alterations. So we just decided to have Bike Shop Day. It’s a day where we can have a sale and invite people in for events and demos and food and a party. There really isn’t much of a blueprint right now. It’s just: have fun with it, do what you want with it.
What are some of the benefits of an in-person bike shop experience?
We offer free classes, we do tours, we do camping trips, we do all kinds of events in the shop. And we build trust and build connections. It’s like when you want to take your car to a certain garage and make sure a certain mechanic is there, or when you’re getting your hair done and you want to make sure a certain hairdresser is there. We want to be that person. It’s a long game. It’s having a conversation that leads to things down the road, that leads to a more sustainable customer.
How have suppliers and distributors responded?
All of our major partners have gotten on board in some way or another, they’ve given us a bunch of swag to hand out, and bikes to raffle off, and we’ll have bags of stuff with T-shirts and stickers and hats and all kinds of good stuff.
You’ve said that you want to keep this an open-source event. Why?
We are all in it together. A lot of us have seen the industry change and people are trying a lot of different things. We’re constructive members of our industry and we want to come up with some constructive solutions to getting people in the door.
If a shop wants to participate this year, how do they get involved?
It’s pretty easy. On December 9 just have Bike Shop Day. Just do something. It can be whatever you want it to be. Maybe you’re talking about having a great group ride or a party that night. It would be cool if other shops would e-mail me so we can get them on the list.
I actually bought bikeshopday.com. We’re going to create a lot of content around this year’s event and then have a blueprint by next spring. Then we’ll start talking to vendors and other folks in the industry to start drumming it up for 2018.
Make your shop’s plans for December 9 and e-mail Joe Nocella at email@example.com. Then mark your calendar: beginning in 2018, Bike Shop Day will take place the first Saturday in December.