We've been searching for shifters to use with Montmarte, Porteur, Left Bank bars and other road-sized city bike handlebars. These inexpensive Falcon shifters are not TA or Campy quality. What do you expect for $10 a pair? But they do function perfectly, have a nice ratcheting action, and the soft rubber tipped levers are actually very comfortable. And they look nice with inverse brake levers. They also work on MTB-sized bars such as the Milan, Promenade, Tourist etc. Heck, they even work on drop bars, though not on the sleeve. They should be in stock on Friday.
Speaking of shifting gears, there's a lot of that going on here at Velo Orange. We are now in our third year and still growing like crazy. I expected strong growth in the first two years; it's easy when you start from zero. But we're seeing no slowdown even as we become more established. This while a friend who owns a very nice racing and MTB-oriented bike shop is complaining of weak sales.
Surprisingly, I never wanted to own a bike shop. My main interest is in finding, designing, and sourcing new bike components. The number of VO-brand products will triple by year's end. We hope to have a range of complete bikes to sell by late next year. And we will introduce a line of "Grand Cru" components; the best of the best. VO is becoming more like a manufacturer than a regular shop.
So it's time to launch a real effort to get these new items into other bike shops. Tom Martin, who was the buyer at a major West Coast bike wholesale company, just joined us and is taking over management of VO Imports this week. VOI is the new wholesale-only company I've started. It has a different warehouse, separate inventory, and it's own staff. My hope is that it will become the wholesale equivalent of Velo Orange. VOI will sell a complete line of products from many manufacturers, not just VO components. Within a year or two, a local bike shop selling city, rando, and touring bikes might not need to order from any distributor other than VOI.
At the same time we'll start offering Velo Orange brand and Grand Cru components and accessories to other distributors both in the US and abroad. And we're still looking to buy an established distribution company to merge with VOI.
Of course there are problems too. I continue to underestimate the amount of stuff we'll sell and we keep running out of popular items. Our ever increasing orders plays havoc with planning at the small manufacturers we prefer to use and so production gets delayed. Of course I don't get much sleep or riding time these days and fear I've become a bit of a grumpy bastard these past couple of months. But things will calm down when we have more staff. And it's still fun.
Wish us luck.
17 June, 2008
Posted by Velo Orange at 12:40:00 PM