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“What sets us apart is how we care for our customers,” D’Amour said, “not just from them, but from anybody. It’s the most important thing we can do.”
Her emphasis on the consumer experience paid off when the poor economy forced her shop to downsize last year. She offered memberships to local community members for a fee and used the funds to aid the shop’s transition. The new space has more room for the mechanics and a smaller sales floor.
“Our members got us through a time when we really needed their help and support,” she said. “The community really came through for us, and they’ve been awesome.”
Her involvement with the community also allowed D’Amour to reach out to Congress. She worked alongside Rep. Earl Blumenauer to promote cycling fitness.
“We enjoy good relationships with many of the bike shops in town because they are great advocates for the cause,” said Derek Schlickeisen, a spokesman for the Oregon Democrat. “With the increasing popularity of biking here in D.C., we are always happy to see more facilities that are serving cyclists.”
While the newly opened City Bikes hasn’t had the same opportunities to establish ties to any community, Congressional or otherwise, they have plans to do so.
“We want to reach out,” Bloomfield said. “I’d like to get a couple of group rides going. We’d like to get a morning ride going out, and we have a couple of guys looking to re-establish a Fort Dupont bike ride.”
Although it’s still too soon to tell how the shops will fare, customers don’t seem to be worried about the competition.
“We don’t really know this shop yet,” said Patrick Jackson, a local who’s been shopping at Capitol Hill Bikes for 10 years. He and his wife stopped at City Bikes to take a look around. “It’s nice to have this one here. I think there are definitely enough people to use it. From our experience, it’s a big biking neighborhood.”
No matter what the outcome, D’Amour said she couldn’t be happier.
“Retail is a tough way to earn a living, but there’s nothing better than owning a bike shop,” D’Amour said. “It’s just about making people smile. It’s about having fun. No matter how tough the business is, interacting with the customers is always a blast.”