Setting Up a Commuter Station

Recently Cool Breeze Cyclery in Mooresville, NC gave me a small sector of their store to make into a “Commuter Station.” The idea is to have all the prominent commuter products in one place, with information and maybe a Trek 7.2FX bike with all the accessories installed to show how they work.

My question for all of you is what would you put in this section?

What key accessories, information, articles and so on do you think is needed? I want to attract to not only the beginning commuter testing the water but also someone that has been commuting day in and out for 3 years.

Give your feedback and I will then post updates of how the section is going.

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0 thoughts on “Setting Up a Commuter Station”

  1. Elaine says:

    Racks, panniers, bells, lights, helmets, fenders, rain gear, those dorky vests 🙂 and locks. Information/books about riding in traffic and local bike/vehicle law.

  2. adamb says:

    Wow! Great idea.
    Fenders, for sure. Truly reliable tires, possibly with reflective sidewalls (like the Michelin Transworld model).
    A local bike friendly map or routes to help newer folks figure out best riding options. And, a kit that includes everything needed to keep your bike rolling (spare tube, patch kit, tire levers, mini-pump/CO2 inflator and mini tool as a basic start).

  3. Mike Panic says:

    The products are the easy part, I think if you held 20-30 minute free seminars once a week on “how to change a flat with a co2 cartridge” but also tell them while doing it the importance of having a frame pump.

    Small instructional seminars that tackle things most people worry about will not only help out your fellow new and seasoned commuters, it will also allow you to focus on specific products and sell them.

    Product not listed – clothing. I recently started to commute and had one loose fitting Fox Racing mtb jersey, it worked great, wicked the sweat from me and my back was barely wet from carrying my backpack. I then realized that I’d either have to do laundry that night if I wanted to ride the next day to work or go buy some more jerseys because cotton t-shirts won’t cut it for me anymore.

  4. Guitar Ted says:

    I pretty much agree with what is written here so far. We did this at our shop and we had a bike, like yor suggested Trek, all kitted out. Fenders, lights, racks, everything. We then put up a back drop and added clothing to that with informational tags. We also posted up some commuting articles, one of which featured some of our staff in a local news paper article.

    We redo the section about twice a year, just to keep it fresh. It has worked, and often times we sell the bike right out of the display kitted up and ready to go!

  5. Stuart M. says:

    Ditto the above suggestions.

    I also installed a rear view mirror on my handlebar that saves me from twisting my head around to see what is going on behind me (and inadvertantly driving into the curb like I did once).

  6. William Boyd says:

    A mannequin dressed for the day. Rain gear for the rain. Cooling clothing for the heat. Warming clothing for the cold. Sometimes chic, sometimes grundge. Mix it up and keep it changing. Take pictures and keep them in a book. Let people know that have alternatives. It could be a lot of fun.

  7. Fritz says:

    What would Yehuda Moon have in his shop? 🙂

  8. I’m with maps – not the kind of ones that our local council produces (scenic, circular routes, going no-where in particular), but something more like the motorway network, or underground / subway maps to show the quick and easy routes from A to B.

  9. Ghost Rider says:

    Free baby wipes for the sweaty commuters who stop by! Ha ha.

    Seriously, +1 for maps. A lot of areas have developed “bike suitability maps” (usually produced by the bike advocacy groups or the local transportation planners). Having a stack of these to give away, or include with every commuter purchase, is a great idea.

    Any place with “Cool Breeze” in the title has my thumbs-up!

  10. tadster says:

    If you can’t sell the bike, sell the accessories. Explain to the customers how they can turn their current garage bike into the perfect commuter. People should know just how customizable their bikes really are!

    Also, it would be nice if you had an assortment of baskets and panniers to look at. Depending on your cargo carrying needs, one option could be much better than the other.

  11. Swampstomperus says:

    A VERY LOUD whistle, on a lanyard around the neck. Used to alert the idiots on the road who just did something stupid or who don’t see you coming.

  12. Paul says:

    Wool, including wool cycling caps. Coupled with full fenders wool outer layers makes a much better barrier against rain than any of the “breathable” (ha ha) laminated stuff.

    A selection of clothing options not normally available. Everything from what people will need to ride to work wearing their street or office clothes to technical cycling knickers like those made by Chrome, Swobo, Swrve, Portland Cyclewear, etc. It’s nice to show people there’s something between full spandex and regular clothes for cycling.

  13. Jason says:

    I’d agree with everything above, along with some kind of sign up for folks who’d like to commute together to work or the downtown area. It’s worked well here in Michigan.

  14. Jenna says:

    I like what everyone said here also, especially the maps & different bags/baskets. As a new commuter, maybe showing little things like mirror on the handle bars vs. on the helmet, same with headlights. Let people play with their options.

  15. microzen says:

    + impulse purchase snacks, gels, & drinks for those commuters who pass your store.

    + pamphlets on traffic safety as well as tips on getting your employer to expand bike facilities (parking, showers, commuter benefits)

  16. Juan says:

    Information on alternative transportation in case people can’t ride the entire distance, or can’t make it back home. Our bus system allows bikes, and I see a lot of the same people doing the hybrid bus/bike commute each day. Having a schedule and knowing you won’t be stranded because of weather or fatigue might get more people to try it.

  17. Digital Dame says:

    The idea of weekly how-to seminars is good, but a lot of folks won’t make it in. My LBS has these, and since I bought my bike in May I have yet to attend one. (to be fair, I have no idea what their attendance rate is, so maybe it’s just slackers like me who aren’t organized enough to make it in for a scheduled event) Some people are going to need real BASICS on the new bikes. I had been away from cycling for so long I didn’t even recognize the shifters on the bike I bought. I figured it out by accident when test-riding. How about an exploded diagram of what all the parts of the bike are? Books/booklets on basic bike maintenance?

  18. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    Everynow and then I find my self taking to a child on a bike. The two things I always tell them. 1. always signal every turn and stop when possible. 2. practice looking back while riding straight.

  19. Elaine says:

    “Everynow and then I find my self taking to a child on a bike.”

    That reminds me: gear/assistance/advice for commuting with a kid. I work with a woman who is eventually planning to work her daughter’s daycare into her bike commute route, and I’ve heard others mention daycare issues as a block to bike commuting.

  20. Ralfieboy says:

    Studded tires, Powerstraps and flat pedals, instant heat hand warmers, belaclavas (Bike Ninja!)..okay, I guess I’m a few months ahead of myself 🙂

  21. Fritz says:

    Studded tires and the other icebike gear might be overkill in NOrth Carolina, though. 🙂 Raingear would certainly be appropriate.

  22. climbinskier says:

    In addition to the ideas above have documentation on local (city/state) bike law. Might as well make sure they are all educated on to ride within the law.

  23. ohmypolarbear says:

    I agree with all of the above, especially Guitar Ted’s suggestion to have a display bike that’s ready to go. Makes it much more believable than just a pile of parts, and it sounds like it’s managed to get them a sale, not just on the bike but a complete set of accessories as well, on multiple occasions.

    When I saw the title of this article, I thought it was going to be about the “cycling convenience center” that Trek is piloting in Madison, WI (at the shop where I bought my commuter bike, in fact):

  24. Bill says:

    – Big sturdy pannier racks. (I kept knocking my panniers off with heel strikes until I installed an “expedition” pannier)
    – The best of the bike locks. Information (and statistics) on how to use them, perhaps with a demo bike properly locked to something.
    – Bells, horns, other commuter noisemakers.
    – Best of: headlight options, taillight/blinkie options. Choose the brightest, most effective products.
    – A few commuter oriented bikes
    – Commuter oriented panniers and bags
    – Literature on bicycle safety, effective cycling, sharing the road, anti-theft, bicycle registration with your local police dept, etc.

    If you have room left over, consider a little bit of marketing using happy bicycle commuters in poster-sized photo profiles.

  25. Juan says:

    I just saw this in Mens Health, but thought it was a clever idea. They did an article on commuter bikes, and included how many tanks of gas it would take to pay off the bike. It strikes home the point that basically any bicycle related purchase can be justified since it’s all free anyway.

  26. Digital Dame says:

    Juan, use the calculator on the right side of the page here to see how long that will take. (kind of up towards the top of the page) It’s going to take awhile for me to equal it all out, probably over a year, but I figure I’m going to have the bike a lot longer than that, and hopefully do more and more riding instead of driving.

  27. Juan says:

    Digital Dame….I have used it, but my point was having it printed next to each item being sold on display. If someone goes into a shop and sees that their bike would pay for itself in 10-15 tankfuls, it might make the purchase seem a bit more logical. New helmet…2 tanks, a rack….1 tank, new riding outfit….3 tanks and so on and so on. My bicycle paid for itself many years ago, and now it’s all just gravy.

  28. Digital Dame says:

    Ah, ok, now I see. Yes, I agree, excellent idea.

  29. Brent Strange says:

    Maps are a great idea! I would love to have a bike friendly map of my area, Virginia Beach,VA.

    How about an Xtracycle Free Radical hooked up to a bike or as a kit with free installation on purchase with a bike? I have on attached to my Trek 7.3 FX and love it! I take my five year old daughter on errands with it and can go the store for my wife if I need to.

    Echo the other comments on fenders and rain gear. Rain chaps from Clever Cycles are great!

  30. Midlife Commuter Crisis says:

    Someone older than 12 to sell the stuff. No pimples, unless it’s abnormally persistent acne please. And no snotty “I only root for bike racers whose name you can’t pronounce” poseurs either please.

    In all seriousness, it helps to have salespeople with some grey hair and experience. All the other cyclists out there are having fun with their hobby, bless them, but this is THE WAY I GET TO WORK. And it’s nice to have the fact that I spend more time on a bicycle than many of the fancy racing bike customers, and that over the years, I will spend more on cycling equipment.

    Hopefully all of this counter-attitude will prevent attitude in your new bike station.

    Thanks for the opportunity to rant in a controlled fashion.

  31. Arleigh says:

    Thank you all who have added your input and opinions. I hope to start working on this little corner within a couple weeks. We are trying to move through some inventory to make this blank slate for our Commuter Station.

    Once I start working on it I will post another with photos and a list of things I will be carrying. I think what will be key is not only having “smart” product but having staff that understands why it is “smart.”

    Thanks again!

  32. Arleigh says:

    Midlife Commuter –

    We are very lucky to be able to give you this controlled rant comment feature. I often think forums get out of hand but we want your HONEST opinion.

    As for young staff, yes I agree that often the staff is hired as a “filler” for a less per hour $. This might give the customer someone that isn’t as experienced or knowledgeable. I wouldn’t go as far as saying gray in the hair as I hope not to get gray for at least 10 more years! I also have been commuting on and off for 8 years, in various areas of the country. I wouldn’t say I am the most experienced or would want to go to battle with Peter White or someone like that but age doesn’t necessarily mean inexperience.

    Thanks again and continue your ranting as you need!!

  33. Axterix says:

    Anyone knows what is?

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