County loses only bicycle business

Local bike shop falls victim to poor economy



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Felix Rodriguez, manager of the Dallas Santiam Bicycle store, will continue working for the company in the downtown Salem Store.

DALLAS -- Santiam Bicycle's four-year ride in Polk County came to an end last week.

The bike shop's Dallas location, on Washington Street, had its last day Saturday, Nov. 14.

"We would have been happy to keep is open if it had broken even," co-owner Troy Munsell said. "But it wasn't making any money."

The closure leaves riders in Polk County with no option but to leave the county to find a bike shop.

Felix Rodriguez, the shop's manager since it opened, said the customers stopping by last week were disappointed at the idea of traveling further to find what they need. He too, was sad to see the location close.

"It's kind of melancholy," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez, who biked to work from West Salem every day, said after the last day he and the unsold inventory will move to the company's other location in downtown Salem.

When the three owners of Santiam Bicycle, which has another location in downtown Salem, opened the Dallas shop, the idea wasn't to pull in a huge profit, Munsell said. Rather than focus on the bottom-line, the objective was to foster the area's biking community and provide a resource for local riders.

"In that respect we were very successful," Rodriguez said.

That wasn't the case financially.

Rodriguez and Munsell pointed to a number of reasons why the shop hadn't been able to break even.

They said opening a store here made sense with the amount of riding opportunities in the area and number of customers from Polk County going into the Salem store.

Munsell said the owners had hoped people heading out to ride the Dallas Trail system and the Black Rock Trails near Falls City would stop at the shop en route. Also with Western Oregon University nearby, they thought college students would be a good part of its customer base.

While Santiam did have loyal customers from throughout the county, there just wasn't enough of them to justify remaining in business.

Rodriguez said Oregon's climate didn't help, either. Business was always slow during the winter and the more pleasant parts of the year just couldn't make up for weak winter sales.

Dan Shell, a mechanic at the Salem store, said closing the Dallas location doesn't mean Santiam Bicycle would be any less involved in the biking community in Polk County. Munsell said the business will continue to work with the city of Dallas and Black Rock Mountain Bike Association on the trail systems in the area.

Munsell said reopening is not out of the realm of possibility, with an improved business climate. If a shop -- under any ownership -- were to return to the Dallas area, the region would need healthy businesses employing a strong customer base to keep a shop afloat, he said.



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