Posts tagged with "D.C."

The new toilet paper: Bikes are flying off shelves, overwhelming shops

June 5, 2020

Eric Attayi, owner of the Urban Bicycle Gallery in Houston, Texas, has watched the pandemic transform his shop in a way most businesses can only envy.

In fact, he recently told CNN, bicycles are selling before he has time to assemble them for display—and he already had matched his 2019 sales by the start of May. He’s had to hire new employees to meet demand, and hasn’t taken a day off since February. Attayi said he’d given raises and started buying lunch for his stressed staff.

As unemployment reaches record levels and small businesses scramble to survive, bike shops have been an exception.

They’re thriving whether they’re in car-dominated cities like Houston and Los Angeles or in more traditional biking areas like Portland, Oregon, New York City, and Washington D.C. Keeping enough bikes in stock, and finishing repairs in a timely manner, has become a challenge. Customers are being turned way, in some cases.

A recent survey by the National Bicycle Dealers Association found that 83% of shops are concerned about their inventory levels. Bike manufacturers are struggling to keep up.

“We’re usually a pretty slow, chill shop,” Attayi said. “Now the phone doesn’t stop ringing. My guys get overwhelmed and I totally get it.”

New customers are looking for ways to be active and outdoors. Bike shop owners say that the closing of gyms and yoga studios during the pandemic has contributed. Others say customers are looking for a commuting alternative to public transportation. Social spacing is easiest on individual modes of transportation, like cars and bikes. In March 2020, US cycling sales increased 39% when compared with March 2019, according to the NPD Group, which tracks retail sales.

“Bikes are like the new toilet paper,” Attayi told CNN.  “If it’s available, buy it.”

Garfield Cooper, owner of ZenCog Bicycle Company in Jacksonville, Florida, has extra mechanics working to try to keep up with a repair backlog. Repairs that usually are done in 24 hours now require up to a month. Cooper, like Attayi, said he hadn’t had a day off since February.

While his sales usually decline in the summer months with increased heat and humidity, Cooper said he hasn’t seen a lag in business yet.

“It’s been a long time since the bicycle has been this important to the American people,” Cooper said. “It’s so cool they’re this interested in bike riding.”

He’s struggling to keep things like bike seats and helmets in stock. Cooper said he’s regularly calling other shops to find parts he needs for repairs.

Bike shop owners are also wondering how long the current boom will last. Some said customers were more interested in biking because with less car traffic, roads felt safer. Their interest may wane as traffic returns. But some cities have begun to reallocate street space to bike lanes, which could lead to more biking in the long term. Roughly 400 miles of protected bike lanes have been built in the US in the last decade, according to the advocacy group People for Bikes.

Phil Koopman, owner of BicycleSpace in Washington, D.C., compared the current bicycle boom to 1999, when many people bought computers to prepare for Y2K.

“Then those companies didn’t sell a lot of computers for a few years because everyone already had one,” Koopman said. “That’s the big question. Is this a one-time thing or is it something sustainable?”

Research contact: @CNN

Tacos, lattés, kombucha, and makeup: 7-Eleven expands ‘Evolution Store’ concept to new locales

February 27, 2020

Most people don’t associate 7-Eleven with much more than Slurpees, snacks, lottery tickets, and travel accessories—as well as the added convenience of around-the-clock shopping service. But now the Dallas-based chain, founded in 1927, is offering some of today’s trendiest menu items and cosmetics in a new store concept that is being tested at several locations nationwide.

Indeed, 7-Eleven, Inc. is scaling up its Evolution Store concept following the successful opening of its beta store in Dallas last March. These Evolution Stores serve as real-time experiential testing grounds where customers can try the retailer’s latest innovations.

Both stores include a Laredo Taco Company restaurant, a brand that 7-Eleven acquired from Sunoco in 2018. The eatery is famous for its authentic tacos—served on handmade flour tortillas that are made from scratch in stores every day—and fresh salsa bar, with a wide selection of salsas and pico de gallo.  Tacos and meals include specialties not always seen in quick-serve Mexican restaurants, such as authentic barbacoa, chorizo, carne asada, carnitas, and breakfast tacos made with fresh-cracked eggs.

“7-Eleven’s mission is to give convenience customers what they want, when and where they want it,” said 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto in an official company statement. “Our evolution stores bring outstanding innovation to life through new food and beverage platforms as well as through digital experiences.”

The first Evolution Store exceeded the retailer’s expectations with enthusiastic reviews, crowds of customers, and sales that continue to climb. Concepts that resonate with consumers are refined before being incorporated into the next generation of current and new store standards.

“These new stores are invaluable learning labs, where new concepts are tailored to meet the needs of the communities they will serve from sunny southern California to the fast-paced world of the East Coast,” said 7-Eleven EVP and COO Chris Tanco. “We will continue to evolve based on customer feedback and we look forward to creating the next generation of convenience together.”

In addition to Laredo Taco Company, the 7-Eleven Evolution Stores will offer an assortment of exclusive products, services, and featurescustomized to the neighborhoods and customers they serve—among them:

  • Made-to-order specialty drinks that give customers the option to customize their drinks in a full-service beverage format including custom hot coffee drinks like flavored lattés, mochas and more; as well as custom cold drinks like smoothies, agua frescas, and cold brew coffee.
  • Self-serve specialty coffee drinks with the addition of touch-screen machines that brew custom hot coffee drinks like lattés, cappuccinos, espresso shots, and more in just seconds.
  • Novelty beverages on tap that dispense cold beverages, such as tea, cold brew, kombucha, nitro cold brew, flavored drinks, and more.
  • A cold treats bar with multiple frozen yogurt and ice cream flavors that can be swirled together with multiple toppings.
  • Cookies, croissants, and pastries baked fresh in-store daily.
  • A mobile checkout at which customers can pay for their purchases via the 7-Eleven app and accompanying 7Rewards loyalty program.
  • 7NOW Delivery App, which is 7-Eleven’s on-demand delivery app , enabling items like fresh food, beverages, snacks, groceries, and household products delivered straight to the customer’s door.
  • National-brand electronics, such as tablets and Bluetooth headphones—available for sale from a secure, self-serve kiosk.
  • On-the-go beauty with expanded skin care, makeup; and other health and beauty items.
  • “The Cellar,” an alcove dedicated to an expanded selection of wines and craft beers, with a nearby growler station that features a rotating selection of local craft beer, cider and ales on tap (except in Washington, D.C.).

The Washington D.C. store is now open at 504 K St., and the San Diego store at 3504 El Cajon Blvd. will open in the coming months. 7-Eleven plans to continue to expand Evolution Stores nationwide during 2020.

Research contact: @7eleven

Allbirds perches in New York City and plans more stores nationwide

September 5, 2018

The newest product to come out of Silicon Valley needs no tech support—but it’s supporting the feet of such well-known techies as Google Co-founder Larry Page, former Twitter chief Dick Costolo, and venture capitalists Ben Horowitz and Mary Meeker, according to a September 4 report by CNBC.

Called Allbirds, the new brand of footwear—produced with such sustainable resources as merino wool, tree fibers, and sugar— already has won over customers on the West Coast and is expanding fast. The company opened its first store on the East Coast, in New York City, just after Labor Day.

At more than 4,800 square feet, the new flagship location in New York’s SoHo neighborhood on Spring Street will include a “service bar” to help buyers find the right size, along with room for customers to lounge. It will replace its temporary home on Prince Street, which was about 900 square feet and is closing later this week.

Like the wildly popular Warby Parker (eyeglasses), Casper (mattresses), and  Everlane (clothing), Allbirds began business as an etailer.

The company only recently began opening stores, serving as a place for shoppers to try on the sneakers before buying and helping create more buzz around the brand. The company has since launched a new sneaker made out of tree fibers and flip-flops made out of sugar, along with a kids’ line called Smallbirds.

Indeed, the brand has become so buzzworthy that, last month, actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio became an investor, People magazine reported.

Creating sustainable consumer products requires a deep commitment from brands that understand the role they have in helping solve our environmental crisis,” DiCaprio said in an exclusive statement. “Allbirds is on the forefront of developing new materials that will serve as a model for the footwear industry. This kind of innovation is crucial for creating a more sustainable future. I am proud to join the company as an investor.”

“Given how tactile our product and brand story is, it’s important that we continue to create these opportunities to interact with customers,” Allbirds Co-founder Joey Zwillinger said. “Our goal is to continue to create retail spaces that allow customers to truly engage with the brand in an authentic off-line experience that embodies Allbirds’ unique comfort and thoughtful design.”

Allbirds plans to open eight more stores in the United States in locations including Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles,  and Washington, D.C. The company also said it’s thinking about adding two locations overseas.

“There is and has been incredible pent-up demand for Allbirds around the world,” Zwillinger told CNBC. “When we launched the brand, we were thoughtful to keep our distribution limited to the regions we felt we could service impeccably — the United States  and New Zealand, our home countries.”

Since then, Allbirds has grown into Australia and Canada.

Research contact: lauren.thomas@nbcuni.com