The Cyclery: People smile when they get on a bike

January 20, 2014 

NAME: MATT DAWSON

Job: Store manager, The Cyclery and Fitness Center at 1225 Thouvenot Lane in Shiloh (618-233-0070/thecyclerys.com)

Outlook: "If you see somebody smile when they get on a bike, whether it's a kid for the first time or somebody who hasn't ridden a bike in 30 years, everybody has that reaction about a bike, and it's just a blast."

A metro-east bike shop with roots in Madison County has just expanded with its first locale in St. Clair County. Matt Dawson heads up The Cyclery and Fitness Center's new store in Shiloh and first started working at the business' Edwardsville store. The shop has another store in Centralia. Dawson recently invited business writer Will Buss to the new store to "talk bikes":

Q: How long has the bike shop been in business and why has it expanded?

A: "We've been in business in Edwardsville for 34 years. The owner just was interested in expanding and was looking at new locations. He looked at many new locations and many different places throughout the metro area and felt that this was a the best fit for us. It is very similar to Edwardsville. You see so many young families here. The air force base is an obvious draw. There are similar demographics to what we have in Edwardsville."

Q: What is your focus here?

A: "Our focus is not necessarily one particular type of cyclist, but every cyclist. Everybody can benefit from riding a bike, whether it is a little kid or a 75-year-old grandparent. So we don't focus on one individual type of cyclist or bike rider, whatever you want to call them. If you were to say that we specialized in one thing, it would be families riding bikes together. One of our main sellers are bikes for people to ride comfortably who maybe haven't ridden a bike in several years or in many years that are just enjoyable bikes to ride, not necessarily racing bikes, not necessarily mountain bikes, but we sell those as well. Our bread and butter, if you want to put it that way, is families riding together."

Q: How long have you been working for this bike shop?

A: "I've been part of The Cyclery for 12 years."

Q: How did you get started in this business?

A: "I started riding mountain bikes when I was a young teenager. When you start showing up at the bike shop often enough and show an interested, they'll start showing an interest in you. So I started working for the owner when I was 18 or 19 as a mechanic and in sales. I'm not afraid to talk bikes with anybody. It was a natural progression for me to go from learning to work on bikes to getting product knowledge, which just comes with time."

Q: What do you look forward to doing the most at this new store?

A: "It's a couple things. The relationships we develop with out customers. I know the folks who come to Edwardsville that I've known for years and some of them are guys who I have ridden with for thousands and thousands of miles on the road and they are really good friends. If you see somebody smile when they get on a bike, whether it's a kid for the first time or somebody who hasn't ridden a bike in 30 years, everybody has that reaction about a bike, and it's just a blast. It's really a fun thing about the job."

Q: What is the range of bikes and products that you sell?

A: "We have bikes from the most basic quality bike available, which in the business we call a 'bike shop bike,' versus a department store bike. Your basic bikes are $369 all the way up to this Trek hanging up here is $8,000. We've got it all, from bottom to top, bikes for kids, bikes for adults, trailers for babies, we pretty much cover all of the bases. We don't want to leave anybody out."

Q: What brands to you sell and what service you provide?

A: "Our primary brand in Trek bikes. They are based in Wisconsin. They are the only major brand of bikes that still makes bikes in the U.S. There are several niche manufacturers that still make bikes in the U.S...They are also the number one brand in the U.S. and the largest employer of Americans, which we're very proud of and is one of the reasons we love Trek so much because they are American bikes, literally. Our secondary brand is Cannondale. They have very strong American roots, also, but they are owned by a Canadian company now. But they were born and bred in Pennsylvania and still are one of the largest brands in the states as far as sales and employment. Our shop has a couple things that are really great for customers. The number one thing and the most important thing about buying a bike from us is that you get lifetime adjustments for free on any bike that is purchased from us. Basically, we cover all of the general adjustments needed on a bike. There's no limit, there's no end time. If you have a problem with your bike that you bought from us, bring it up, we take a look at it and most things are covered by that. Obviously, certain things like flat tires or if you crash and bend a wheel or something like that, that's not covered. But the general adjustments on the bike are covered, which is great. People save hundreds of dollars with that over the years. If you figure that most people after they buy a bike, unless they really catch the bug and upgrade right away, they're going to have that bike 10-plus years. If they just bring it in once a year, they're saving $60 a year. So we're talking $600 over the course of 10 years in service if you bring it in on a regular basis. We have people who bring in their bikes every other month...We also offer 10 percent accessories for a year. So you buy a bike, if you need stuff to carry water, a bag and rack on your bike, fenders, a helmet is very important for safety, we give you 10 percent off of all of those accessories for a year...We also offer a 15 percent off military discount."

Q: What kind of bike do you prefer to ride in your free time?

A: "Most of my riding is on the road now. It's easy to ride road bikes around here because there are so many great country roads and there are fewer areas where you have mountain bike trails. I live in Glen Carbon, just outside of Edwardsville, so we're lucky up there. We've got all of the paved trails for road bikes and we have some mountain bike trails on the SIU campus. So I do a little bit of everything, but mostly road biking. Once you really get into it, you find yourself collecting bikes. I've got a bike for every occasion, but mostly for road biking. That's what we do most around here."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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