Friday, January 6, 2012

For The End, The Beginning

On January 7, 2011, I began this blog, with the intention of telling a bike story a day, every day, for a year. This is the 365th story, the culmination of that year-long project.  So, I thought that I would go back to the beginning and elaborate a bit on the tag-line which sits below the title at the top of the page.

In 1992, my then-wife, Valerie, and I came out to Denver to spend two weeks with some friends who had moved here from Columbus, Ohio.  While we were here, we happened to stop in at Destinations Cyclery, in Parker.  Kevin and Kelly were looking for bikes, and I had recommended that they look at Specialized HardRock Sports, as I thought that they would be suitable for the riding K&K would be doing.

Destinations was the closest Specialized dealer, so we went in and they bought their bikes.  While we were there, I talked with Scott, the owner, at great length about my philosophy (and his) on biking, and adventurous living, in general.  By this time, Val and I had decided to move to Denver (and we were living here within a month after this visit), so Scott told me to come by and see him about a job if we moved somewhere close.

By February of 1993, I was a full-time employee at Destinations.  Initially, I was a mechanic-in-training, then I stepped up to also selling bikes on the floor.  Eventually, I became Service Manager, and worked there for seven years, minus the year I owned the coffee shop in Parker.

I sold a lot of bikes, at Destinations, both on days when I was working and on my days off.  I loved bicycling so much that the shop was literally my clubhouse, much to Scott's sister Catie's dismay.  I would stop by, after a ride, and come into the shop and start talking to customers.  I think my enthusiasm was infectious, because I often sold bikes to people who were in to get a flat fixed, or just "thinking about" buying a bike.  Scott often said that I sold more bikes on my days off than when I was working.

The thing was, I could never follow those lists of "effective sales techniques".  When I did, I sounded like a telemarketer reading off of a script.  Invariably, though, I would get into a conversation with the customers, and start telling stories about great rides, or the history of bicycles, or whatever.  And (this was key) I would listen to their stories and, from them, determine what bike would work for their needs.

I was pretty good at matching people up to bikes.  And, luckily, Destinations was not one of those shops where we were told to move a certain product.  Scott and I both agreed that we would rather build a rapport, and a trust between us and the customer, and keep them coming back in the future, than just "move product".

But, Scott was a real salesman.  He could do that "win friends and influence people" sort of selling.  So, he found my technique amusing.  It was the "homespun folksiness" thing, as far as he was concerned.  And it wasn't long before he did actually start referring to me as "Uncle Remus", after the storytelling old man in Disney's The Song of The South.

I didn't mind, though.  I knew it was all in good humor, and Scott knew I was an asset to the shop.  Plus, he treated me well enough, because of that.  For instance, he sent me to Moab for a 5-day, 4-night supported camping trip around the White Rim Trail, the first year I worked there, so that I would have more stories to tell about Moab.  He knew on which side of the bread was buttered.

So now, almost 20 years later, I do have a lot of stories to tell.  I have told you 365 of them, and I still have more.  And, since people have asked me to continue the blog, I don't see any need to stop telling them.

I think I will continue telling stories, but I am going to cut back on the schedule, a bit.  I have so many adventures planned, this coming year, that I can't commit to a story a day.  Maybe 3 or 4 per week.  And, they may not all be about bicycling, I may just tell some tales.  So, if the bike content is all you come here for, I am afraid you may have to pick and choose what to read.

But, if you just want a story, I've got a million of them!

Thanks for reading.

x

6 comments:

  1. I heart that second to last paragraph and am fine and dandy with the last paragraph. When I saw the post title from my blog, the thought jumped into my mind that with the change of a single letter, the famous "Say it ain't so, Joe" would apply. I'm happy to know it doesn't. Of course, like the commute string, all good things will end someday. Just not today.

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  2. I love a good story, and I know I'll enjoy a bunch of them right here. Great job, Jon, keep 'em coming.

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  3. Congratulations! You are a great salesman, having sold me a bike a thousand miles away.

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  4. The best kind of salesman are the one who DON'T follow the book and from what you described of your technique, you would have had me buying a bike a week from you!

    I'm curious, do you still keep in touch with Scott?

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  5. I do keep in touch with Scott. We take the occasional ride, together.

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  6. Thanks for the blog, Jon. You're an excellent storyteller. I can't remember how I stumbled on to you blog. I think it's because I googled "650b stumpjumper" at one point and found one of your entries. I grew up in Colorado and still visit family there. I wanted to go over New Year's and ride with my brother who lives in Longmont. Unfortunately, I got sick and stayed in Montana, which has some excellent ridding. Perhaps our paths will cross one day.
    Keep up the good work.
    Tom Howard

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As always, sorry about the word verification. It's a necessary evil, unfortunately.