It’s hard to imagine a future without bicycles. And as long as people ride bikes, there will be a need for bike shops. Shops staffed by true bike nerds, not some person pulling double-duty between bikes and produce, like at a big box store.
“It’s important to not just be a retailer,” Matt Ritzow says, but to also be part of the community. Ritzow is partner owner and general manager at Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life.
“We feel like an important part of being in business in a town is to try to give something back,” he goes on.
“When somebody wants to buy a bike,” Ritzow explains, “and they realize the complexity, they see a value,” in turning to locally owned bike shop. The value, “of a company that’s been in the business and will be there tomorrow,” Ritzow adds.
But like a lot of independent business these days, it’s hard to keep an indie bike shop afloat…or rather, on two wheels.
Politics and competition from online retailers are two challenges Ritzow lists as threats facing his business. But he sees a way forward, with smart staff and good service.
“We have the capability to have a much more grassroots connections to customers,” he says.
“Eugene is a great place to be a cyclist and have a bike shop,” he continues, “and we appreciate it.”
“I’m just grateful for the privilege,” Ritzow says. — Will Kennedy