Park City Bike Demos’ Second Act
When this unique bike shop closed its doors, it seemed like the end of an era. But with a boost from a big name in cycling, it’s reopened to bring its “concierge” concept to one of the hottest biking spots in the Mountain West.
It started with a bread truck and a dream.
In 2014, Andre Shoumatoff took two former delivery vans, filled them with bikes, tools, and knowledgeable staff, and began delivering rental bikes to Park City visitors at their hotels or chosen trailheads. Soon, though, Andre realized an unexpected side effect of the personal service he was providing, with carefully selected and fitted bikes for every customer. After a day-long ride, about one in eight customers wanted to purchase the bikes they’d tried out.
After establishing a solid footing in Park City, Andre began dreaming of establishing a more permanent presence. In 2016, Park City Bike Demos opened its brick-and-mortar location. The bread trucks, though, weren’t going anywhere; staff still delivered bikes straight to customers so they could to take a spin. Soon, the shop became a vital part of Park City’s cycling community. Groups of all ages and backgrounds were invited to call it home, including the Utah High School Racing League, the largest NICA racing program in the country.
But in an era of spiking rents and cutthroat online competition, keeping a physical store open proved an ongoing struggle. “Some ideas we thought were good didn’t really work,” says marketing director Zak Ricklefs. “We had to keep so many bikes in inventory that the space felt more like a warehouse than a shop. Plus, the business is tough under any circumstances. Bike shops have low margins and one in 17 closes every year.” In August 2018, the crew called it quits, shuttering the shop and preparing—they thought—to abandon a dream.
Then an unexpected source offered to breathe new life into the business. Robert DeMartini, former CEO of New Balance and current CEO of USA Cycling, bought Park City Bike Demos, reopening the shop’s doors in February 2019 with a commitment to the original concept.
That concept: concierge-style service with a friendly, helpful attitude, is still at the core of Park City Bike Demos’ business. “It’s shocking how many people report bad customer service experiences at bike shops,” Zak says. “Someone who’s the president of IMBA and beat Lance in the Leadville 100 could walk into a bike shop in Steamboat, and someone there will belittle him.”
Walk into Park City Bike Demos’ shop, though, and you’ll find a much different experience. The lights are kept low, the music high, the coffee fresh. “We like to keep it a little dark and sexy,” Andre says. Models from high-end builders like Felt and Devinci are posed like modern sculptures in the uncluttered space.
Though any shop will let you take a quick spin, Park City Bike Demos encourages you to lean into the experience. The Demo Center is at the heart of their business model. Here, you can check out a bike (or two… or four…) for a whole day and take it to the trails. Try out different styles of bike, from 29er to townie to e-bike. Up to $500 in rental fees can be used as a credit toward a bike purchase for six months from the date of your test ride. Or, if you fall in love with a bike, it’s easy to take your new objet d’amour home right away —they’ll even ship it home for you.
The Demo Center’s location is perfect for trying out your new wheels. It’s a 10-minute ride from the easy trails of Round Valley or the double black diamond trails of Park City Mountain Resort. “You don’t even need a bike rack on your car,” Zak says.
If you’re short on time or itching to hit singletrack, you can skip the shop altogether. Park City Bike Demos still maintains the fleet of trucks the business was built on. Their driver/mechanics will meet you at the trailhead or anywhere around town to get your rental perfectly fitted to your size and style. (Plus, they always bring bumping tunes and cold beers along with them.)
But it’s after the sale is made that Park City Bike Demos’ concierge-style service comes into play. “We don’t believe in the ‘one and done’ sale,” Zak says. “We provide multiple service days for every customer to emulate that first-day experience.” You can stop by for a tune-up or a components upgrade, and enjoy an espresso drink while chatting with local cyclists. Or, for some big-screen inspiration, catch a broadcast of the Giro d’Italia, the Tour of Utah, or another cycling event in the Demo Center’s media area.
F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “There are no second acts in American lives.” That’s certainly not true for this all-American bike store, which has managed to both reinvent itself and stay true to its original vision. On your next trip to Park City, consider treating yourself to a hand-selected, custom-fitted ride… and enjoy the sense of community this unique shop has created while you’re there.
Park City Bike Demos
1500 Kearns Boulevard
Park City, UT