The Bike Cooperative is proud to name Bert’s Bikes and Fitness as our 2022 Retailer of the Year!

Bert’s Bikes and Fitness has been a member of the Bike Co-op for more than 14 years, and we are thrilled to name them 2022’s Retailer of the Year.  With this, Bert’s has received:

        1. A $5,000 training grant from Synchrony
        2. One month buydown on 12 month financing to 0%
        3. Two GoPros to give out to employees

The criteria for Retailer of the Year are:

        • At least a year of membership with The Bike Cooperative. Nothing against our newest members, but the true impact of some co-op tools takes a little time!
        • Participating in at least 3 programs, including Freedom To Ride
        • Have a growth mindset with their business as well as the co-op
        • A proactive approach to implementing positive change through training
        • A willingness to empower the cooperative by actively sharing knowledge, insights, and tactics

The Bike Co-op’s goal is to empower the local bike shops with the tools to survive and thrive.  We talk to shops every day across the country and have a fantastic membership base.  When considering who will be the next ROTY, a few things stick out about our experience with Bert’s:

        1. Working with Bert’s Bikes and Fitness is always a pleasure. Despite what is going on in the world, their focus stays clear, which is to service their customers the best they can while growing their business in a secure and sustainable way.
        2. The staff at Bert’s are always willing to speak with other Co-op members about their experiences with the programs, no matter how busy they are.
        3. Their execution of the programs like Freedom to Ride and RideClub Rewards is first class. Their success is due to their diligent training and proactive approach.
        4. Belief in the importance of the independent business runs deep in their veins.
        5. They have the best “No BS” approach to everything they do.
        6. Have you had a conversation with Bert? We highly recommend it – You never know where it will take you!
Working with Bert’s Bikes and Fitness is an honor and we are excited to continue that relationship and share with everyone a little bit more about their business.  Congratulations to them additionally celebrating their 50th Anniversary!

Q&A With Bert Dunn, Owner of Bert’s Bikes and Fitness

“Can you share a brief history of your store? With that history in mind, what has been the greatest change you have experienced over the years?”

My Grandfather got us into the bicycle business in 1952, he was a Wholesaler and a Retailer.  He grew his business to 3 locations, but due to age and my father and Uncle Jim no longer working in the business, he sold in 1965.  My father felt he was done with bikes, but in 1972 he decided to get back in, working out of his garage, while working as a Buffalo Fire Fighter.  1 year later, he bought a new house with a 3-car garage in the back and for the next 23 years operated out of the back yard.  In 1983, we opened our 2nd location on Niagara Falls Blvd in the Town of Tonawanda.  Today we operate 8 locations, our HQ is in a 33,000 sq ft facility in Orchard Park, Niagara Falls Blvd is still going strong and has seen several additions pushing the space to 14,000 sq ft, Williamsville is a 15,000 sq ft. store, Henrietta is a 23,000 sq. ft building and is the regional HQ for the Rochester market, Webster is 9,000 sq. Ft., Greece is 3,500 sq. ft., Lancaster is 5,700 sq. ft and Erie is 5,600 sq. ft.  So, we cover Buffalo, Rochester, and Erie.

The greatest change I have experienced over the years is the proliferation of skus.  When I was a kid growing up in the business in the 70s and 80s, there were not nearly as many categories, models, colors, and sizes.  It was not all that hard to learn the entire Schwinn and Ross bike lineup.  Today, there are so many different models, which makes training new folks a major challenge.  It seems as if every niche is covered, but then something else comes out to address yet another niche.  Remember when there were just Road Bikes and Mountain Bikes?  Now Drop Bar bikes have several niche categories and Flat Bar Bikes have multiple variations, HardTail, Mid Fat, Fat, Cross Country, Enduro, Downhill, Dual Sport, Hybrid, Comfort…  Every year something new pops up.  And of course E-Bikes, lots of styles, models, sizes, colors with more on the way.

“What is one piece of advice or best practice would you share with the industry as we look to the future?”

Do not discount.  Do not sell on price, sell on value.  If you go to the Doctor, they do not give a discount.  If you go to the Auto Mechanic, they do not discount.  If you go to a fancy restaurant, they do not discount.  You are worth more than any online or D2C experience, get paid for it.  Your costs of doing business are too high and continue to skyrocket, you can’t afford to make less money on bikes.  Discounting is a crutch.  You can’t sustain your business unless you make enough money to pay the landlord, the government, the banks, utilities, insurance, advertising, maintenance services, fuel, and of course the big one, payroll; oh and hopefully there is something left for you after everyone else gets paid.  If you discount, you will either work for free or go out of business.  So, don’t discount.

“Why did you join The Bike Cooperative to begin with and how have you seen it evolve?”

Initially we joined to secure great financing rates.  That still holds true and is our biggest reward.  But we have added RideClub and taken advantage of several other programs that don’t have quite the same impact, but are valuable, nonetheless. 

“How has the Bike Co-op staff impacted your use and success with the programs?”

Lacey is our point of contact and has been for years.  She is very helpful and provides great insight through all the networking that she utilizes in her daily interactions with her other dealers.  I love hearing about different strategies for success, depending on whether the dealer is ok with sharing the information.  I certainly didn’t invent every great idea, I have no problem borrowing or tweaking great ideas when I hear them.

Coming out of the COVID sales bubble, what are you doing to maintain those customers and their interest in riding?”

The most important thing to do coming out of the COVID bubble is to train your staff.  Obviously we all need to get control of the inventory monster that we created, but without good training, those bikes aren’t going to sell themselves anymore.  As an industry, the boom hid all of our warts and allowed us to be mediocre and still be successful.  Dealers were able to clear out just about every bad purchase we had made in the past few years as dealers were literally cleaned out.  Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and the Boom is over and has been since last April.  Now you actually have to be good at what you do.  Invest in training for your staff and your business will grow despite the slow down in demand.  Investing in outside rides and groups doesn’t do any good if your staff isn’t trained, so focus on that first. Once you get your staff up to speed, then you can turn some of your attention to outside interests to bring in more customers, but again don’t forget about the customers who are already coming in, a well trained staff will be the best Rider Ambassadors.

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See Jim Costello, General Manager of Bert’s Bikes and Fitness’ video testimonial