To be the best bike shop for women it takes a holistic approach: luscious inventory and warm hearted men embracing customers from all walks of life, supporting the community seeking “Reasons to Ride” and creating a friendly, joyful environment that makes all kinds of people just want to come and hang out with bikes and each other.
When I arrive – by bike – a bright light in his eyes and kind smile signal I am about to meet a joyful, charismatic person.
With an engaging voice full of light emotion, he begins to tell me about his bicycle shop, prefaced with the simple, uninhibited acknowledgment that he has Parkinson’s. Tremors today are worse than usual.
But the story is the store; ”All the experts advise you to focus on inventory turns. My mother, also a retailer, told me ‘you can’t sell what you don’t have’, so me, I love inventory.”
And he does have inventory, merchandised to captivate a broad audience and induce a woman to indulge, including the most enormous glass case of every style Oakley has to offer.
Waving his hand at the Specialized rep un-boxing and setting up bikes on the floor, he reveals another truth of his success, “Reps are so important because I do business with people, not with brands”.
The vibe in Bicycles Plus, owned by this former BMX pro and a National Bicycling Hall of Fame inductee, is like no other. He hangs a sign of the times, “unattended children receive an espresso and a free puppy” below bowls of candy on the counter.
All names end in “o” in honor of Armando, the manager: Steve”o”, Shane”o”.
These wrench wielding guys, including Armando, are learning great life man lessons from a mentor they so obviously love, including how to wear your heart on your sleeve, how to say yes to everyone in need and make all who walk in the door feel like they are meant to be there and will find joy, no matter how novice, riding a bike.
With a smile and all attention to detail on a really hard day, he hosts his Bodacious Biking Babes and me for an evening of wine and cheese, leading the discussion with questions he has drawn from this group of 50 women in advance. Heartfelt emotion comes alive as women speak of cycling and how it has changed their lives, helping them to move forward through divorce, illness, obesity and depression.
Choked, he expresses gratitude for the Terry recognition and for the support of these ardent Babes who not only frequent his store, but ride for his reason, and have raised over a half million dollars for Parkinson’s research. Vicki, who started it all, Debbie who brought in the old Terry jerseys, Susan, Kathy, and Lori who submitted the winning essay are among the women who grew into cycling with his care.
There is room in my life for very few heroes, but John Crews in a matter of a few moments made my list and so I immediately understood why this large cadre of women – customers, fans and cycling friends -nominated and so vigorously voted his bicycle shop, Bicycles Plus, Terry’s Best Bike Shop for Women.