With cycling almost a religious experience for enthusiasts, the Old Stone Church with its stained-glass windows and high ceilings... WebCyclery's "holy" new venue... inspires gear freaks and novices alike.
Hallelujahs nearly resounded from the crowd at the shop's Aug.8 grand opening fiesta... a great way to increase church attendance, quipped one guest. A new Salsa Journeyman bike went to one lucky raffle winner, while a pair of Fischer Speedmax skis went to another.
Owner Kevin Gorman is living his dream. Moving to Bend in 1996, his goal was to mountain bike as well as sell bikes and gear online. Today, WebCyclery has nationwide name recognition. What's the back story?
As with Apple, Amazon, Disney, Google, Harley Davidson and others, a garage was the humble launchpad for Gorman's business: In the late '90s, he sold Timbuk2 messenger bags online. A brick-and-mortar shop on Industrial Way was home from 2000 until 2018, when he bought (and retrofitted) the Old Stone Church, thanks to a Small Business Administration loan.
Gorman's passion for mountain biking began in college and afterward at his first job in a bike shop back in '92. Popularity of the sport has spread "because it's fun, exciting ...and lets you connect with nature and your inner child," he says. "You get to play in the dirt and in the woods. Whether you are a three-year-old just learning to ride or an octogenarian with decades of experience, everyone loves riding bikes."
What's behind the company's name spreading nationwide from Bend? For one, being early to the game; another, offering great customer service and serving specific market niches.
"We have passion for what we do...and love talking bikes and skis with people," Gorman remarks. "We aren't the cheapest place to buy from, but we have a lot of knowledge, experience and really cool products you won't necessarily find in most bike and ski shops."
Yet while he still loves seeing how excited folks are when they buy a new bike, this local entrepreneur's greatest satisfaction is hearing compliments about his staff and their service. With 15 employees, Gorman feels "very responsible for making sure they have a stable job. Our staff is the biggest reason for our continuing success."
As for challenges: Changing locations after 20 years was risky. But customers have found them at the new spot. Looking ahead, Gorman wants to do what they do best, plus grow local and online business.
"Nothing crazy," he adds, noting that they're still settling in their new digs and don't plan to add stores or anything like that. Value-added feature: WebCyclery supports local suppliers including the Robert Axle Project and Woody's Custom Fenders (Bend), Laird Superfood (Sisters), and Co-Motion Cycles (Eugene).