Ignore the sign on the front of Summit Bicycles in Burlingame, said an executive who is putting the brakes on the gossip and steadfastly maintaining that the recreational outlet is keeping its longtime presence on the northern Peninsula.
An Available sale is hung on the building at 1031 California Drive, but Summit Bicycles CEO Ian Christie said the company holds multiple lease options spanning through the next decade and has no intentions of riding off into the sunset.
“We will be there for a while,” said Christie, whose company also operates locations in Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Santa Clara and San Jose.
Christie acknowledged there has been an uptick in curiosity around the fate of the Burlingame store since the red sign advertising the building’s availability was first hung from the roof.
In an attempt to dispel the rumors though, Christie said the Burlingame store is thriving — an accomplishment in its own right amidst an industry which is proving increasingly difficult for independent retailers.
He suggested a portion of the speculation over the company’s well-being could also be a byproduct of Talbot’s Cyclery recently shuttering in San Mateo, and that some patrons may have confused the two brands.
And despite his store’s apparent success, Christie also admitted there are challenges associated with operating a retail storefront in Burlingame where many companies have struggled with rising rents and an increased cost of doing business.
“It can be challenging,” he said. “There is no question we have experienced an exponential additional expense in operating a business.”
But nodding to the long history shared between Summit Bicycles and the Burlingame community, Christie said he is confident the support shown to the store will endure through the foreseeable future.
“We lean on a pretty big amount of equity in being a Burlingame business for so long,” said Christie, who purchased the bike store chain from its previous owner just over one decade ago.
The store was previously known as Burlingame Cyclery, founded in 1922. It established a presence along Burlingame Avenue, at the location currently occupied by Five Little Monkeys toy store, before moving in the fall on 2004 to its current location.
Christie said the California Drive store offers twice as much space as the previous location, providing ample room for the company to provide a variety of services accommodating novice to expert riders.
The shop offers sales, rentals and repairs as well as apparel and accessories. Christie said each location strives to assure all the necessary equipment and service is available — from a kid’s first bike to custom builds.
The all-inclusive approach has paid great dividends for the company, said Christie, as customers appreciate a local shop where they can find expert advice without the stuffiness associated with some recreational shops.
Recognizing the similarities between biking, running, water sports and other outdoor activities, Christie said the uninitiated considering taking up a hobby can be intimidated by standoffish pros often found at niche shops.
Which is why the staff at Summit Bicycles is trained to bend their approach to meet the needs of each patron and offer guidance at each varying level of proficiency, said Christie.
“We wanted to create an environment that is welcoming to all levels of cyclists,” said Christie.
Such a focus helped establish the company as a sporting haven for Burlingame and the rest of the northern Peninsula, said Christie, who added the process occurred so organically that he did not notice until the store moved to its current location.
“We didn’t know we were such a destination retail spot until we found a new destination,” he said.
Considering steep climb required to form a reputation as the community’s cycle store, Christie said Summit Bicycles plans on going nowhere fast.
“The sign on the building is just for the building,” he said.
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