NBDA Opens Membership to Mobile Operators
Laguna Hills, CA—With over 70 years of experience in the cycling industry, the National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) knows well that the times, they are always a-changing. To that end, the organization has decided to widen its membership net to include mobile-only operators.
“The NBDA works to represent the best in bicycle retail, and including the best in mobile operators is a natural extension of that goal,” says Brandee Lepak, chair, NBDA. “Although mobile operators have a lower overhead than many of our traditional brick-and-mortar storefront operators, they also have a larger footprint, which can translate well to underserved retail markets such as rural communities.”
Scott Chapin, bicycle industry risk specialist with Marsh & McClennan Agency in Minneapolis, sees a lot more mobile bike shops sprouting up, many run by people with years of experience with independent bicycle dealers as lead mechanics. "Obviously, this can be considered a threat to the retailer as they are losing their head mechanic," Chapin notes. "Since the overhead is super-low, it's pretty easy for these mechanics to do this. Many of these mechanics are purchasing a small enclosed trailer and/or cube van to do the work in. If the job is too complex, they will bring the bike 'home' or to their garage."
Some mobile operators are franchisees, some are operating in partnership with an established brick-and-mortar, while others are wholly independent. Chapin says he doesn’t see any signs of sector growth slowing down and that including them under its umbrella is a “good opportunity for the NBDA to incorporate mobile operators’ clout on the advocacy side.”
The membership fee for mobile operators is set at $125 per mobile shop, plus $50 for each additional vehicle. Benefits include access to the NBDA online forum and discounted enrollment to Barnett Bicycle Institute courses.
The National Bicycle Dealers Association has represented specialty bicycle dealers in the United States since 1946. The non-profit association offers numerous programs for dealers, with an emphasis on education, research, communication and advocacy. For more information on the NBDA, visit their website at www.nbda.com.