Mitch Marrison, retail program coordinator
In almost any town or city, bike shops are the hubs of the bicycling community. They are important to PeopleForBikes too: we have more than 1,000 retailer members bringing new riders into the movement and collecting donations to help fund our Community Grants program. Each month we showcase one of our retailer members who is going above and beyond to help improve bicycling in their own community. Last month we turned our blog over to our friends at The Bike Rack in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. This month, we spoke with Casey Meudt, co-owner of Blazin Saddles in Sisters, Oregon about how this family owned and operated shop is growing bicycling in Oregon.
Tell us about the history of Blazin Saddles
Blazin Saddles opened during the summer of 2010 by my mother Jacquie Zanck and myself, Casey Meudt. With her strong retail background and passion for riding both road and mountain bikes, coupled with my long history of wrenching on bikes and running bike shops, my mom and I were primed to open a sweet bike shop in our hometown. We have experienced rapid growth during the five years we have been in business with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Our customer base ranges from coast-to-coast and border-to-border now, with people driving over six hours to come buy a bike from us. In 2013, we were proud recipients of the Business of the Year Award for Sisters, OR. We are also celebrating the grand opening of our second store in the Mckenzie River area (located next to theMckenzie River Trail) this July.
What does the shop look like today? How has it changed over the years?
When you enter the shop you are greeted by the welcoming faces of our bike-loving crew. A bright, airy space with beautiful wood flooring, upbeat music, and a huge selection of bikes, accessories and central Oregon’s largest selection of cycling apparel. We pride ourselves on great customer service and on creating an inviting space for every person that passes through. Blazin Saddles wouldn’t be able to operate without this mindset. As we continue to grow, our shop will continue to evolve to accommodate our growing sales in both bikes and their accessories.
How is Blazin Saddles involved in the local community?
Blazin Saddles takes being involved in Sisters’ community to the next level. We are very involved with both trail advocacy groups in the area?Sisters Trails Alliance and Central Oregon Trails Alliance. With these groups, Blazin Saddles helps plan trails, work with public agencies, build and maintain trails, educate our community on trail etiquette and more. I teach an MTB class at Sisters Middle School and Blazin Saddles and the Sisters Parks and Rec Dept are also in the process of planning and fundraising for a community bike park in town.
Four years ago I created the Sisters Cycling Guide which provides tourists and residents with twenty-two pages of info and maps of MTB trails, road rides, hikes and community events each year. Blazin Saddles provides a free bike valet service for the Sisters Folk Festival so that attendees can ride their bikes from venue to venue. We donate as much as we can to local schools’ arts and athletics programs while also sponsoring every event in town that comes up. All of us here love our community and if we can be involved in any way, Blazin Saddles will make an effort to do so.
In what ways is your staff helping get more people on bikes?
Blazin Saddles excels because of one thing; customer service. Whether it’s your first time in a bike shop and you know nothing about bikes, or you roll in on a high end road bike, you get the same positive and enthusiastic energy from all of our staff. Our staff provides a welcoming atmosphere, with the knowledge to back everything up. We are all excited about bikes and we love getting people fired up about them too. What better job could there be? With fantastic infrastructure surrounding the shop to test ride road bikes and the Peterson Ridge trail for mountain bikes just minutes out our front door, it’s pretty easy to get people stoked on how great bicycling can be. I’m proud to have an amazing crew of local riders that make up the Blazin Saddles Race Team, ranging from high school aged to 70 years old. We also have a great selection of items and a wealth of knowledge for the rapidly growing women’s bicycling scene, complete with women’s only rides and clinics at the shop.
In between naps, Cudi the shop dog also helps get more people on bikes.
As of late, Sisters, OR and Deschutes County have become well-known for mountain biking. How has this shaped Blazin Saddles over the years?
We are very lucky to have an amazing little town nestled at the base of the Three Sisters mountains and the Cascades. With National Forest surrounding us we have a blank canvas of opportunity for trails in every direction. With hundreds of miles of trails already in existence in our area along with many more being planned, Sisters is quickly turning into quite the cycling destination for small towns.
Do you have one day in the shop that stands out at as the most memorable?
I would have to say our five-year celebration block party back in late May really stands out as one of the best. In conjunction with the Sisters Stampede, we celebrated over Memorial Day weekend with a block party at our store. Bike vendors came with big demo trucks with fleets of bikes for everyone to try, on top of more than 500 riders picking up their race packets and a huge sale, plus games, food, beer and a bike park fundraiser. We had our biggest day of sales ever and had an amazing time celebrating our five years with our community and customers. It was one of those days where you close the doors to the shop and can’t help but smile and think to yourself, “wow, this is what I get to do every single day.”
What does the future look like for Blazin Saddles?
As mentioned, we are opening a new shop in McKenzie Bridge, Oregon where we will have bicycle rentals & repairs. Customers will be able to sign up for MTB shuttles for the McKenzie River, O’Leary, & King’s Castle trails. We’re also excited to rent paddle boards and book rafting trips with our local partners, Horse Creek Lodge. Blazin Saddles wants to continue to get more women, kids and everyone else on bikes, educate the local population and tourists on trail etiquette and advocacy, and continue to help make our rapidly growing bicycling community the best that it can be.
Some of the crew getting ready for the new store!
A big thanks to Casey, Brittany and the rest of the crew at Blazin’ Saddles for their continued support!