Specialty Bicycle Shop Provides Niche for Cyclists
Alex Bischoff and Ron Clipp have been running Hub Bicycle in Webster Groves since 2003.
Hub Bicycle Company in downtown Webster Groves carries a variety of bikes from brands such as Giant, Scott and Kona. But Hub has a specialty not seen in other shops around town.
“If there’s a niche we fill, it's tandems. We carry 10 or 12 in the shop—and that’s a lot," said Ron Clipp, co-owner of the shop. "They average $4,000.”
The shop sells American-made tandem bikes made by Co-Motion, a bicycle manufacturer in Oregon. Clipp said they’re great family bikes, especially the Periscope model that can accommodate a second rider as young as 4 years old.
Clipp said the shop’s biggest sellers are recreational hybrid bikes, though more expensive road bikes bring in more money. Despite a down economy, Hub continues to grow—the shop saw a 15-percent increase in sales last year.
“We can do anything to do with bikes. We sell them, fix them and we ride them,” Clipp said.
Clipp and Alex Bischoff even sponsor a Hub cycling team.
“To join, our criteria is…you're not a jerk,” Clipp joked. He said one of the important qualities they look for are courteous riders who are proud to have wear the Hub name.
Clipp learned everything he knows about bikes while working at bike shops, which he started doing as a kid in high school. He said he wasn’t much of a mechanic when he first started out.
“But now I can fix anything,” he said.
Having good people skills is helpful in the bike business, Clipp said. He said that guys who just know how to work on bikes don’t move up to management positions. In his shop, everyone needs to be versatile, because there is no dedicated salesperson. They take turns waiting on customers or working on bikes that come in for repair. The company's repair area is right out in the open so they can keep an eye on the shop floor while customers browse.
“We’re always working on bikes. Everybody does everything, from stocking to repair to sales,” he said.
Clipp said it’s tough for both he and Bischoff to find time to ride for fun with their families while keeping the store running smoothly.
“When the weather’s really nice, everyone wants to ride, and you need to be here to make money,” Clipp said.
As a compromise, they close the store on Sunday. “It’s the one day we dedicate to family,” Clipp said.