Bike shop owner likes what he sees in central Ohio
VeloScience Bike Works opened in New Albany in November after owner Geoff Clark was lured back to his native state by the city's active cycling community.
"There were signs that the cycling community (in New Albany) is a very healthy environment," Clark said.
The Columbus native was courted by New Albany Co. officials, who had asked his advice about developing a bicycle shop on Market Street.
The New Albany Co. and the Daimler Group are working to develop health-related office space and retail businesses on Market Street in a new 26,000-square-foot development. Their building would complement the planned community health facility at the corner of Market Street and Johnstown Road. The health facility will be built by New Albany and will include a medical clinic operated by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
During a visit to Ohio, Clark, an avid cyclist who was general manager for the Sneaker Factory Running Centers in New Jersey, said he rode with a cycling group in New Albany, passing some 250 other riders during the outing.
After learning that the Pelotonia bicycling fundraiser, started by New Albany resident Tom Lennox, was to end in New Albany for the first time this year and that the community has an active women's cycling group, he said, "Those are all good signs that there is a lot of potential here."
So, Clark said, he decided to set up shop in Market Square, the New Albany Co.'s first development on Market Street, with the intention to expand into a larger space once the company and Daimler build their new development to the east.
"There are some really good bike shops in (central Ohio), and they do a lot really well," Clark said. "But no one's carrying the high-end stuff."
After contacting bicycle suppliers, Clark opened VeloScience Bike Works in the 1,300-square-foot space at 220 Market St. with name brands including BMC Switzerland that previously were unavailable in central Ohio. He sells both adult and children's bicycles.
He said people looking for performance often want to test ride a bicycle before making a large investment. He cannot carry a large selection now but, he said, he can provide a few bikes that cyclists can take out for a test ride.
Being a cyclist himself, who competed professionally in the late 1980s and still coaches athletes through his other business, enduranceguru.com, Clark is very focused on setting up a bicycle for each customer.
"It takes a big chunk of time making sure they fit on the bike perfectly," he said.
Clark said making sure the bicycle fits the rider for the best performance possible can cost up to $400 and is included with all bicycle purchases from his shop.
For him, the shop is not just about selling bicycles. A self-proclaimed "endurance addict," Clark enjoys working with people to help them improve their lives.
"It's not about selling a bike -- it's about selling experience," he said. "It can be a life-changing thing for them to become part of a new sport."
Even the name of his shop was chosen to encourage people to think about the sport.
"I chose 'velo' from a cycle and 'science' because it says a lot about the level of knowledge and expertise we have here," he said. "We focus on helping people achieve a level of performance they wouldn't have been able to do on their own."
Clark said he's particular about the products he uses and sells. These range from trainers to helmets, tools to energy foods and clothing to upscale messenger bags that are stylish enough to use as computer bags.
"We're not selling just because they are trendy or the right color," he said. "Utility and quality are key, too, and are all part of what makes your experience riding the bike better."
Since he has Columbus ties, Clark has friends helping him with the shop. He said he has partnered with Rick Miller of Rick's Bicycle Service in Utica to offer repairs.
"He's hiring a new staff member to work in the store to manage the repairs," Clark said. "It saves me the overhead. I provide the tools and the space, plus the business for Rick."
VeloScience Bike Works is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at 220 Market St., Suite B, in New Albany.