today betting odds football dropping odds and tips
We started a bike shop with $5,000 and within six months we were in the black.
Jeremy Clay

Changing Gears

After bouncing around the bike industry, Jeremy Clay came home to CNY to start a bike shop. His shop has found success in the niche market of triathletes and road racers.

It was February 1997 when Jeremy Clay was told he might never walk again.

The day before at Labrador Mountain in Truxton, Clay slid his snowboard into a half pipe to perform a few more tricks before quitting for the day. It was then he felt it happen. Somehow, he managed to stay on his board and make it back to the lodge where he was loaded into an ambulance.

Jeremy Clay, 20, a sponsored competitive snowboarder and avid bicycle racer, had severely herniated the disc between his L3 and L4 vertebrate in his back while snowboarding.

To his doctor’s surprise, a week later he was up and walking, and within six weeks he was back snowboarding.

Clay grew up in Tully, where he started snowboarding competitively at age 17 and racing mountain bikes at age 14. When he was not racing or training, he was working at the Bike Loft in North Syracuse as a bicycle mechanic.

A year after recovering from the accident, he took over the role as the lead mechanic and service manager of the Bike Loft. After graduating from SUNY Cortland, Clay said he continued to spend his summers working at the bike shop and spent the winters working different jobs in the ski industry.

In the fall of 2005, he and his wife decided to move to her home country, France. After struggling to find jobs and depleting their savings, the couple decided to move back to the United States. Less than a year after moving to Europe, Clay accepeted a position as the store manager for one of the largest bike shops in Salt Lake City.

Clay said he found himself unhappy working at the bike shop, and found a different job at Reynolds Cycling, in West Jordan, Utah. The company specialized in manufacturing carbon fiber bike parts. As a result, Clay got the opportunity to represent his employer and used his skill as a bicycle mechanic to help the Agritubel team, a French racing team, during the 2008 Tour de France.

When he returned home, Clay was laid off in 2009 as the economic recession hit the bike industry.
After a short stint as a service manger in a local Salt Lake City bike shop, Clay said his wife surprised him with the thought of returning to Central New York to open his own shop.

When Clay decided to return to CNY he partnered with his former boss, Lance Stonecipher, owner of the Bike Loft, to open his own bike shop.

“It still flabbergasted me to think what we did,” Clay said. “We started a bike shop with $5,000 and within six months we were in the black.”

In April 2010, after leaving Utah, Clay, 34, came back to CNY and opened Bike Loft East in Manlius.

“I knew that there was a need for a good shop. I thought that we would do okay with it, but I did not expect it to do what it did. Right now we’re right on par with where Lance’s store is and it has been there for 30 years.”

According to Clay, his shop sold 338 bikes in 2011, which is up from the 102 they sold during their first eight months. The warm winter with an early spring has led to the sales of more then 50 bikes since January this year already.

The Bike Loft East carries bikes for all crowds: mountain, road, triathlon, time trial, cycle-cross, BMX and even bikes designed for children. The bikes range from less than $200, for a toddler-sized bike with pom-poms hanging out of the handlebars, to more than $10,000, for a time-trial bike. Clay said his average bike sale at the Bike Loft East averages just over $2,200. The national sales average, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association is $350 per bike in the U.S.

“The shop is doing really well,” said Derek Perry, a 21-year friend of Clay’s that he credits with getting him into bike racing. “It has a following.”

The Bike Loft East sells all kinds of bikes but has become known for its selection of triathlon and time-trial road bikes. According to Clay, people drive from as far away as Buffalo, to have him help them find the right bike, do maintenance on theirs or use his experience to custom fit them on a bike before a race or a training season.

Mary Eggers, a triathlete who will be challenging Lance Armstrong to a one-on-one charity-swimming event at the end of April, drove all the way from Rochester, N.Y., in a snowstorm, to have Clay adjust her new bike to fit her body.

According to Perry the success comes from Clay’s tendency to be a workaholic, and at times a perfectionist.
Clay partially agrees but adds it’s about the customers and their experience.

“We take care of our customers,” Clay said. “We treat our customers like friends and when they come in here and experience that — they like it. They like that we know who they are and we remember who they are next time.”
Clay said the reputation of his shop has spread by word of mouth.

“The bicycle industry is more word of mouth than anything,” he said. “I think the fact that we did what we did and we take care of our customer like we do, word spread really quick.”