Paul and Charity Chia have been local to the shiny, bright RBA palatial towers since 2007, and as dedicated to their bike shop as they are, the locals know that when they aren’t busy behind the counter of their bike shop, they are most likely out on their bikes. And for that they can be forgiven since both are Cat. 1 racers, and all the locals understand the fitness and time requirements needed to maintain podium-placing speed.
We recently sat down with Paul to find out what their shop experience has been like in the age of the internet and COVID-19.
RBA: What got you into the bike industry and when did the shop first open?
Paul Chia: I got into the industry due to my passion of cycling, which started in 2007, and then my wife and I opened the shop in 2013 in a small industrial-area location. I had actually started out in my garage selling parts and accessories online that I had lying around. That evolved into a small office space in the Valencia industrial area. From there, I grew to a retail storefront due to the pushback I was receiving from various local competitors. I then outgrew that location and moved to our current shop.
RBA: How big is the shop, and what are your best-selling products?
PC: We have a 1000-square-foot retail/service boutique bike shop. My best-selling products include BMC, Felt and Open bikes; Continental and Schwalbe tires; Assos and Fizik apparel; our custom Ale apparel; SIS, Skratch and JoJe nutritional products.
RBA: What have you found to be the best key to your success?
PC: Engaging with the cycling community through our CBS cycling club; personalizing our customer service and treating our customers with respect and kindness by getting to know both them and their needs. In addition to the weekly rides, we also put on an annual century pizza ride, giving local cyclists the ability to participate (for many it’s their first century!)
RBA: What observations do you have about the bike industry?
PC: Online has definitely changed the landscape for brick-and-mortar retailers. The need for an online presence is now required more than ever.
RBA: Looking back and knowing what you know now, is there anything you would’ve done differently in running the shop?
PC: Having an online store website. It was too costly when I first started with just my wife and I running the shop. Now, it has become essential to ensure our longevity.
“Just as important is personalizing our customer service and treating our customers with respect and kindness by getting to know both them and their needs.”
RBA: How many riders are in the CBS club, and what do they receive for membership?
PC: We have over 80 active members in our club, and for the $40 annual membership fee, they receive discounts on products purchased at CBS. In addition to organizing weekly no-drop rides throughout the year, we also host social events like breakfast rides, ice cream rides, additional coffee rides and BBQs. They also get priority service and repair requests.
RBA: What are the most common bike maintenance questions/issues that new riders have?
PC: Currently, shifting and how to change flat tires. Other than a mechanic who comes in part-time, I do all the service work.
RBA: Have you seen an uptick in business with the onset of stay-at-home directives?
PC: We have seen an increase in our service department. Customers are pulling their bikes out of storage, from the garage or the backyard, and needing them to be restored into a condition suitable for riding. There has been a large number of tune-up requests due to the stay-at-home order.
RBA: Do many customers expect you to match internet prices? How do you deal with that?
PC: Yes, we have customers that want us to price-match what they find on the internet. We try our best to match what we can, but we may not always be able to.
RBA: How do you compete with the Internet and your local competition?
PC: We have our own high-end, boutique niche. We cater to customers who know what they want; if not specifically, we can guide them with our knowledge of what is available or might work best for them. I am my own advertisement. I use the products I sell, allowing for great feedback for my customers. We personalize our service by knowing the customer’s name; they are not just a dollar sign.
23123 Lyons Ave, Santa Clarita, CA 91321
Media: Pat Carrigan