Bike Shop Cafes Fix Flat Tires, French Press Coffee
(WASHINGTON) -- In the amount of time it takes an attendant to change a flat tire, a cyclist could potentially enjoy a cup of coffee or a pastry before getting back on the road. And in an increasing number of hybrid bike shop cafes across the country, that is exactly what some bikers are doing.
According to a recent survey of 4,000 establishments released by The National Bicycle Dealers Association, 12 percent of bike shops in the U.S. have in-house coffee bars, 11 percent offer spinning classes and nearly 5 percent serve beer. Yet another 1 percent are daring enough to offer massages, yoga classes or install full-service restaurants.
In an article in the Wall Street Journal, bike shop owners said the hybrid approach to their businesses was, in many cases, a response to a struggling industry. While cycling as an activity has increased, there are fewer overall sales, according to the paper. Meanwhile, new bike-sharing programs in various cities have impacted bike rentals.
All of this means that the industry has been looking for new ways to attract customers to stores. From craft beer in Denver to guest chefs in Wisconsin, many businesses are clearly trying to lure a female demographic to the historically male-dominated shops.
At the Juice Pedaler in Brooklyn, N.Y., customers can bring in their gear for a tune-up, shop for bike accessories and have a tire switched out. But there is also a full menu of coffee drinks, pastries and fresh juices, with items like the Green Smoothie -- blending avocado, spinach, banana, orange juice, almond milk and honey -- inviting customers to linger.
"The coffee-bike hybrid is fairly common," Andrew Schaper, director of bicycle operations, told ABC News. "Our most common service is a flat repair, which happens all the time. And I can change one in 10 minutes. So, often someone will use that time to order a coffee or juice and it's kind of the perfect combination."
Schaper admitted that it can be hard to represent both businesses well at all times.
"We have some restrictions as to how many bikes we can put out front," he said, acknowledging that some customers are surprised to realize the storefront is more than a traditional cafe. "But as you go further back in the space, you realize there are rentals, there are bikes for sale, accessories, etc. So they end up getting incorporated into the whole experience."
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