Friday, September 14, 2012

Peddler Bike Shop looks to build on Austin's biking culture

Story from the Austin American Stateman  By Brian Gaar -

If you work at a bicycle shop, summer is the slow season especially in Texas.
As the employees of the Peddler Bike Shop can tell you, it's too hot for lots of folks to ride.
But business was picking up last week, as college students started to return to the nearby University of Texas campus.
"Everybody's moving in. This is the big moving week right now," said Paul Crossley, as he worked on a bike.
The Peddler is the definition of a small business. With nine employees, it was started in 2005 by A.J. Camp at a small space on North Loop Boulevard. The shop, which sells and repairs all manner of bikes, moved to more spacious digs at 51st and Duval streets three years ago.
It's a good time to be in the bike business in Austin, employees say, as it's a city whose healthy-living lifestyle dovetails nicely with cycling.
"Austin's a real bike culture city. There's more bike culture here than there is infrastructure to support it, but the culture is here regardless," said Simon Kiddell, a shop employee who said he's only owned a car for a couple of months out of his entire life. "I think it's only going to get stronger and more prevalent."
The same might be said of the country as a whole. During the past two decades, cycling has increased in the United States. The number of people commuting to work by bicyle rose by 64 percent from 1990 to 2009, according to Bikes Belong, a national nonprofit that encourages people to ride bicycles.

All of the Peddler's employees ride their bikes to work. Crossley said driving can put him in a foul mood.
"Because cars tend to make people very impatient," he said. "When you're on a bike, you always feel productive ... you never feel like, ‘I'm just wasting time, sitting at this traffic light,' you just think, ‘OK, now I get to take a breather.'"
A lot of the Peddler's customers are new riders, Crossley said. And that increases when gas prices spike.
"That's when you see a lot of people start to get into bikes, when gas gets to be over $4 (a gallon), at least here in Texas," Crossley said. "You get a lot of people saying, ‘...I'm just going to ride a bike to work."
That's a trend that was seen nationwide in 2008, when gas prices shot up. A national survey of 150 bike retailers by Bikes Belong showed that 73 percent sold more bikes compared to 2007. And 95 percent of shops said their customers cited high gas prices as a reason.
For its part, Austin's record high for average price per gallon is $3.98, set in July 2008.
Camp said business boomed back then.
"It was insane," he said. "Everybody was like, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do? I can't afford to drive.' So it was nuts for a good 3-4 months there."
Locally, gas prices climbed to nearly $3.80 a gallon this spring.
If they keep going up, Camp said his business could see another jump.
"I think if it spikes like (2008) again, it definitely would," he said. "The negative being that everything goes up in prices when the gas goes up."

Peddler Bike Shop looks to build on Austin's biking culture

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