MONMOUTH — If there was one thing Brendon Gallant was sure would happen in his life it was owning a bicycle shop.
Go for a ride
What: The Bicycle Shop
Where: 155 Main St. W., Monmouth
Hours: Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information: www.thebicyclesho....
“I moved down here from Alaska with the intent on owning and running a bike shop one day,” Gallant said.
Little did he know that day would come much sooner than expected, as Gallant and his business partner own and operate the Bicycle Shop, formerly Veal’s Bikes Plus, in Monmouth.
It was earlier this spring that Gallant happened upon Veal’s Bikes Plus.
“I found this place on accident during a ride,” Gallant said. “A buddy of mine broke his chain and this was the closest place.”
The previous owner wanted to close the store.
Gallant and his business partner had been talking about running a store together for years.
“That turned into us buying the business, the assets and everything,” Gallant said. “It was a well-timed coincidence.”
Gallant was born into a bike family.
“Our family has a motorcycle dealership in Alaska,” Gallant said. “I could never afford one, but we also had a bicycle shop. My parents got divorced when I was, I don’t know, 8, 9, 10, and they lived three miles apart. The easiest way for me to go back and forth was to ride a bike.”
During the summer of 2008, Gallant took his riding to a new level.
“That was the turning point where it went from a hobby to a really strong passion that has been really influential in my life,” Gallant said.
Gallant tried to join a professional cycling team after earning his graduate degree in 2010. It didn’t work out, but he gained something more valuable — his first connection with his future business partner, Graham Howard.
They pair knew early on they would work well together.
“We have skill sets that complement each other,” Gallant said. “His experience in the industry surpasses mine, and I can put more of the business structure together.”
At first, Gallant’s plan was to step into a leadership role at his family’s dealership in Alaska. But, he yearned to return to Oregon.
“I wasn’t really happy with my work-life balance,” Gallant said. “I missed the lifestyle I had in Oregon.”
So, he returned, got a job at a bicycle shop and waited for the perfect opportunity.
Now that it’s here, Gallant is eager to get the ball rolling.
“It’s surreal in the sense that I don’t feel like I’m going to work,” Gallant said. “I never really have felt that way. When I start to feel like that, it’s time to move on.”
Currently, the shop offers bike sales and repairs. Rentals will be offered in the future.
“The service center is a big push for us,” Gallant said. “We want to take care of people in 24 to 48 hours.”
Gallant said the shop will also be active in the community, reaching out to college students and community members.
“There are fewer people getting on bikes and fewer bicycle stores year over year since about 2010,” Gallant said. “Those are pretty big red flags. My takeaway is you can’t have a business where you expect people to buy. You can have it in the back of your mind, but if you treat people like a transaction, they aren’t going to come in. What do we provide? Our culture. Our vision. This is fun for me, but I treat it with respect. Our passion is what brings people in.”
As is their knowledge of all sorts of bikes — and their ability to make it easy to understand.
“We focus on what people want to do,” Gallant said. “You don’t need a $3,000 mountain bike if you just want to ride to work. We also want to get rid of the words or phrases that the industry creates. That may be good for us, but my job is to translate them into real terms.”
The short-term goal is to get the business, which the duo self-financed, to a self-sustaining level.
As the Bicycle Shop gains its footing, Gallant is excited to see what the future holds.
“We have little projects here and there,” Gallant said. “It feels like things are coming together, but continuing to progress forward.”