Many of you know we’ve been working on a new brand aesthetic for NCC over the last year. It’s been an incredible process for us. It’s been a great challenge to take the nebulous concepts of branding and culture and then draw concrete aesthetic conclusions from them. We’re excited to launch a new look, new logo, and new direction in the next month or so. One thing I can tell you right now, though, is that there will be a beheading. We’ll be lopping off the head of our logo (with great joy, on my part).
Part of the process has been taking our proposed direction as a culture and drawing it back to the physical store itself. We’ve been asking ourselves, “is this the best look and layout to accomplish what we’re planning to do?” For the most part, the answer is yes. But in two categories, we realized we needed to make some changes.
We have been growing in the “Adventure” market since we first started selling Surly Long Haul Trucker completes (before Surly sold them as completes). Salsa’s reinvention of themselves as the “Adventure By Bike” brand tied in really well with what we were doing and the gravel scene here has been growing, too. (If you build it, they will come).
Over the same years, we noticed a different trend occurring that was not nearly as positive. We have been selling few children’s bikes and much fewer BMX bikes. At a recent bike industry event, I was having a conversation about this topic and glanced around the expo. In the conversation, I bet that a good number of the people in that room came from a BMX background. Not necessarily a BMX-racing background or a high-flying trick background, but the 20″ wheel-as-limitless-freedom-background. Most of our past shop employees rode BMX at some point. It is a huge gateway into the sport of cycling. And it’s on the decline. What will happen if those riders don’t ride BMX? They might not fall in love with cycling, or maybe not haunt bike shops until we hire them, or maybe not have fond memories of riding after years off the bike and get back into it as a young adult. Tragic futures!
There are many factors contributing to the decline as we perceive it, but here at NCC, we are going to try and address the factors within our reach. We’re going to re-appropriate some prime floor space to getting kids on bikes. For the last ten years, we have had a special BMX area in our basement – which was always sort of cool – since those kids had their own space. But over time, we’ve come to notice that many of our customers overlook the basement showroom. We need to get those bikes back into the limelight. So we’re building out a better kids and BMX section that should get kids excited. We’d also like to see more mentoring of little riders in some capacity. We are working on that part.
That same space downstairs will now be reinvented as our “Ride Away Room” – a cave, a den, a burrow for gravel riders, fatbikers, and bikepacking/touring cyclists. We aim to make it a place that you’ll want to go down into, only to come out inspired to ride a long, long way.
In the process of building out the space, we will be entombing a precious cave painting done by our good friend Luke Young many years ago. It’ll be behind a wall, waiting for some future generation to come in and discover it (probably while remodeling the basement to display BMX bikes).
We’ll be revealing more and more as the remodeling goes on, so stay tuned!