RIP Performance Bicycles
At end of last year I mentioned that the once nation wide bicycle store, Performance, had filed for Chapter 11. Well, the story has gone from bad to worse, as according to Bicycle Retail and Industry News (BRAIN), all 104 stores are due to close in quick order. Not only is that a jaw-dropping number of stores, but that includes the termination of approximately 1700 employees. Regardless of whether or not you are personally a fan of Performance, those are some heartbreaking statistics.
The Performance Experience
While I was nowhere near a regular customer, Performance was still an important figure in the bicycle retail landscape. I would periodically find myself in the vicinity of one of their stores for one reason or another, and never hesitated to stop in. It was the kind of place that you could find weird, out of date stuff that was actually pretty cool.
Many of the stores had been around a long time. Like most old bike shops, something well out of season and much overlooked might be found amongst the newer wares. On multiple occasions, I’d take a lap through a performance and find a cycling cap from a pro team that was not longer around. As someone with an affinity for old cycling ephemera, I jumped at the chance to pick up a Lotto cap countless seasons ago.
A Bike Shop for Everybody
Performance also afforded an entry point to many cyclists. They offered incredible deals on house brands that were hard to beat for someone who was shopping for a price rather than a specific bike. Their points program was incredibly consumer friendly, and their staff was generally friendly and easy to talk to.
Bike shop employees can seem hard to approach, although this is a misconception. Few people like to talk about bikes more than bike shop types. But Performance was like a light, or diet version of a bike shop. People weren’t so self conscious to ask someone working at a Performance a question without judgement. That isn’t always the case at the local bike shop where all the racing types hang out.
Performance wasn’t my favorite bike shop, but I’m sad it’s no longer a part of the bike shop landscape. It served a purpose for many people. Some were looking for a cheap bike to ride down the boardwalk or through the park. Others may have started on an entry level road or mountain bike, only to be bitten by the cycling bug and move on to a more focused local bike shop.
I understand why people preferred Performance to the local specialty bike shop. It’s the same reason people go to Starbucks instead of the local specialty coffee shop: familiarity and consistency. Members of their points program could go into any Performance nationwide and take advantage of the benefits. They knew what to expect at a Performance, be it in California, Colorado, or Indiana. Performance will be missed, even by those of us who didn’t spend a lot of time or money there. One less bike shop is sad, over a hundred less bike shops is a dark day for cycling.