The three owners of Roseville Cyclery are planning to take it to the next level by expanding their retail floor space, adding off-site merchandise storage and hiring a manager from the bike shop that pro cyclist Lance Armstrong made famous – Mellow Johnny’s in Austin, Texas.
Robbie Brennan moved to Austin from San Francisco to help an old friend open the 18,000-square-foot store founded by Armstrong and his business partners. Occupying two levels in the Texas capital’s downtown area, it had not only retail floor space but also showers and lockers for cyclists who wanted to begin and end their rides there. The shop remains a mecca for cancer survivors and cycling enthusiasts despite Armstrong’s admission of steroid use.
Brennan told me he wanted to return to the Roseville area because his wife has family there, and they wanted their two young sons to grow up near family. Brennan wasn’t certain he was going to work or be a stay-at-home dad, he said, but he called up his old friend, Oliver Bell, to check on whether he knew of bicycle shops that needed some help.
Bell, who worked with Brennan at Performance Bicycle in San Rafael 20 years ago, had since founded his own shop, Roseville Cyclery, at 404 Vernon St., with wife Yi Bell, a physician assistant at Sutter Roseville Medical Center, and his friend Tim Guter, formerly a Roseville police officer.
Brennan’s call couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, Bell said.
“Even if I didn’t have a position, I would have made a position for him, but it just happened to be that we were looking for someone like Robbie to take some of the pressure off myself,” Bell said. “I want the ability to have a day off and not worry about what’s going on in the shop. ... With Robbie here, he managed a staff of 40 people. We manage a staff of (about) 10.”
Currently at Roseville Cyclery, mountain bikes outsell road bikes 4 to 1, Bell said, and mountain probably will always have an advantage in a city so close to the Sierra foothills. Brennan, however, brings a deep knowledge of road bikes, Bell said, and that can’t help but increase sales.
Bell also recently hired another road cycling expert, Shayne Bond, formerly of Bicycles Plus in Folsom. The new hires mean that the shop will now have just as many roadies as mountain bikers. The expanded space will mean they can add a few more road bikes, including Specialized’s top-of-the-line S-Works brand.
The hires already have made a difference, Bell said. On one recent day, he saw customers buy six road bikes priced at more than $2,000.
Overall sales at Roseville Cyclery have far surpassed what the startup’s accountant had forecast: $450,000 in the first year and $700,000 in the second year. The shop has grossed more than $2 million in sales since its soft opening July 22, 2013.
The growth occurred despite the fact that Bell had a biking accident a day after Roseville Cyclery opened and was out of commission for a few weeks. Yi Bell and Guter each worked double-duty to get through the crisis.
Because sales are going so well, the three partners started paying themselves a salary in December. Guter has since retired as an officer and now works full time at the store. They have invested in more branding and merchandise. They plan to eliminate some storage space in the rear of their store to expand the sales floor and service area by year’s end, and they have signed a deal to get 2,000 square feet of added storage space off site.
Brennan said he never had a bad day at work at Mellow Johnny’s, and he has found a similar environment at Roseville Cyclery. The thing that has surprised him most is just how much traffic the store gets. Customers pass up other bike shops, he said, on their way to downtown Roseville.
Call The Bee’s Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Follow her on Twitter @CathieA_SacBee.