Folks, support your local bike shops. These are rough times for a lot of them, and competition from online direct-to-customer companies is not slowing down. Sure, you might be able to save some bucks buying online, but that website won’t be there to help you fix it on your way to work or wherever. Supporting your local bike shop is supporting vital bike infrastructure. The experts behind the workbench stocked with all the right tools, they can’t be replaced by any online service.
The locally-owned Pedego Seattle electric bike shop in Ballard will close August 31, the company announced Monday. In a statement, the company said owner Mike Nelson “attributed the store’s closing to personal hardship as well as economic factors driving the ebike industry toward a commodity model, where high-touch white-glove service and the best warranty in the industry matter less than low prices.” Nelson’s first shop opened in Redmond in 2017, and he opened the Ballard location the next year. The Redmond shop was shuttered in 2022. Seattle Bike Blog wishes Nelson and all the Pedego staff the best. The shop’s sale is already on, so head down to their location on Market Street near 26th Ave NW to say goodbye and pick up some deals.
Mainstream bike shops were slow to pick up on the e-bike trend, though they are catching up. But them being slow created lots of space for non-traditional bike sales models, including direct-to-customer discount companies that undercut competitors in part by bypassing the standard retail markup at a local shop. The problem is that bikes require maintenance, and those local shops are lifelines for bike owners. Shops aren’t grifting when they earn money on a sale, they are funding their essential work. And a shop’s warranty, including their warranty on service, is absolutely worth any extra cost in my opinion.
While I am not familiar with the intricacies of running a Pedego business specifically, bike shops across the nation are facing tough times right now. The bike boom during the early years of the pandemic emptied out entire sales floors and distribution warehouses. But current economic hardships, such as rising inflation (or perhaps greedflation), have reduced people’s spending on non-essentials. I know, I know, a bicycle is essential, but apparently not everyone sees them that way. The trend is also global, not limited to just Seattle or even the United States.
The good news for some of you reading this is that there is a very good chance you can find a great deal on a bike right now. After a few years of difficult shortages, many shops and distributors built up inventory just as demand started to wane. So now may be a great time to buy that bike or spring for that upgrade you’ve been eyeing but put off because it was too hard to find or because prices were too high. Swing by your local bike shops and see what’s there and what’s on sale.
We are very lucky in Seattle to have so many great bike shops, but don’t take them for granted.