ECHO PARK — What is a “cycling lifestyle” shop? Echo Park will soon find out when Pittsburgh-based Banker Supply Co. opens the doors to a store featuring not only bikes but cycling apparel, accessories and an attitude designed to appeal to a wide range of riders – not just racers speeding around in Spandex shorts. It’s an approach that has proven attractive to women, who account for 70% of sales, said Nick Drombosky.
“We haven’t gone out of our way to attract women, we just built a place that is welcoming and inclusive and women seem to appreciate that,” said Drombosky in an email. “I’ve personally heard several horror stories from our customers about how they were talked down to, aggressively hit on, or even harassed by the staff of bike shops … This has caused me to be particularly sensitive to the fact that a person can be treated dramatically different in a store just because how they look, and we have very strict policies to make sure we treat everyone the same.”
A crew is rushing to prepare the Echo Park store, located in a former medical clinic at the busy intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Echo Park Avenue, for a grand opening on Saturday, Oct. 15. It’s the second shop for Banker Supply (it’s name is inspired by a 19th Century Pittsburgh bike shop), with Drombosky planning a third store in Chicago.
“The store ended up in Echo Park because when I started scouting real estate all around the country two years ago, I really liked the people here,” Drombosky said.”Even though some of the neighbors were uncomfortable or even angry about the changes happening to their home, they were all still very kind and welcoming. I’ve experienced a lot of racism in Pittsburgh, so it was relieving to come to a place that didn’t seem to care about race [I’m a Korean-born American adoptee, in case the Polish name didn’t give that away].”
Drombosky started the shop only a few years ago after he had a difficult time getting retailers to carry his reflective t-shirts, wheel stripes and stickers. Bankers Supply is designed to fill the gap between bike shops that are geared either to racing or recreation.
“The ones that focus on racing are intimidating for anyone outside of that, and most of the ones that focus on recreation usually don’t care about new products, trends, and categories like clothing or simply don’t have the time or people to handle it,” he said. “On top of that, taking a broader look at the lifestyle around cycling is also just good business. It opens up some opportunities that normal bike shops would have a hard time with.”
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