Follow-Up File: Art’s Cyclery puts pedal to sales mettle

Name: Scott Smith

Job: Co-owner

Business: Art’s Cyclery

What he said then:

In June 2009, The Tribune reported Art’s Cyclery planned to open a second store on Suburban Road and vigorously pursue online sales.

“As things get more expensive and we’re in a place where the population doesn’t grow a lot, we have to look at ways to find more customers — so we’re doing that online,” said Scott Smith, who owns the bike retailer with Eric Benson. “Our goal is to be the best online bike deliverer in the world.”

Art’s partnered with e-commerce specialists Sports Warehouse Inc. to create and maintain a website that allows it to sell and ship globally.

The second retail location, at Sports Warehouse’s facility, adjacent to Art’s Cyclery’s warehouse, stocks a wide variety of products to support online sales.

The Suburban Road shop, designed to focus on brands for professional riders and serious enthusiasts, is slated to open in July before the Tour de France.

What he says now:

Like many new businesses, the specialty shop debuted a little behind schedule.

But since last summer, the store’s sales have grown and its sales staff supports the online business by fielding phone calls, Scott Smith said. Year-to-date sales for Art’s are up roughly 25 percent, he said.

“We’re tracking for our best year ever,” Smith added. “For times that are kind of tough on retail and in town, our store’s doing well.”

Last month, Art’s received online orders from 149 countries.

But most online orders are domestic. Art’s offers free ground shipping for most U.S. orders.

Online customers also receive free gifts, such as water bottles, at checkout.

“It’s as basic as any kind of sales,” Smith said. “Price is important. Service is important. We want our customers to come back.”

The website’s professional image is also of high importance. Smith believes their merchandise photos are better in most cases than the manufacturers’.

Art’s has done a little online advertising, but mostly relies on search engines such as Google to match it with customers.

To support the growth, Art’s has added about 10 employees over the past two years. It has 30 workers.

The 15-year-old Santa Barbara Street store displays products for casual riders and families. It refers customers to the newer specialty shop, but Smith said otherwise it’s taking time to get the word out.

“We’ve done a couple of events out here,” Smith said. “But it’s a little bit off the beaten path.”

The “obscure retail location” does have the advantage of being close to Trader Joe’s and Kennedy Club Fitness — destinations for many of its target customers.

To help raise awareness, Smith added, the Suburban Road store is running its “first really big sale” this weekend.

— Raven J. Railey