Cold, rainy days are some of the most productive times for bicycle shops. They are chances for cleaning, organizing, and envisioning the future. Last Monday new Neutral hire Patrick Wood was doing just that when I, Bike Writer, came to the shop to meet him.
Patrick commutes from Terre Haute, Indiana to bring his bike saavy and passion for cycling to CU. Recently hired as an inventory manager, Patrick will soon transition into the role of full-time product buyer. He’s the guy you’ll thank for introducing you to the best quality brands and cycling swag.
On Monday I found him rushing from accessory wall to stockroom to accessory wall to stockroom. The man works fast; he’s focused and energetic, and is listening even when you think he’s not. That’s his job, to listen, to figure out the customer needs and stock products that our community wants. It also helps that he is fastidious about organizing, directing me over to the accessory station that had been pawed into disarray by the shoppers of Neutral’s Blowout Sale (going until December 24th!) and that he had now restocked and restructured for optimal visual appeal and functionality, two of his most important values.
“When I pull in a new brand, I try factor in the visual appeal, the functionality, the price and cost, and the demand. I routinely talk to fellow riders and read about products online. It’s important to me that a company has a proven track record of good, quality products that work. It’s always a plus when a product isn’t outrageously expensive.”
So what else is important to him?
“If I could change one thing about the world of cycling, it would be the atmosphere of local bike shops. Sometimes industry professionals give off an air of elitism, or in simpler terms, they’re huge bike snobs. Buying something from your LBS shouldn’t be a painful, humiliating experience.”
Between them, Patrick and his wife own thirteen bikes so they are experts about what makes a pleasurable purchasing experience. They are also multi-sport enthusiasts, taking vacations to National Parks where they hike and kayak when they aren’t biking. Patrick hopes to appeal to more cyclists who use bikes for fitness and sport on top of the student and professional commuting crowd.
“Most people consider Neutral Cycle to be an exclusively campus bike shop. I’d like to help move them in a direction of serving more subsets of the cycling community: mountain bikers, road cyclists, cyclocross racers, dirt jumpers, and bikepackers to name a few.”
For Patrick, as for most of the Neutral staff, cycling is a way of life more than a hobby or an industry in which he works. Cycling means more to Patrick than probably most. Four years ago he was diagnosed with a degenerative bone condition in his left leg “which brought all high-impact activity to an immediate halt. I couldn’t run or jump anymore, but I could still ride a bike, so I went all-in on that.”
And now Neutral has Patrick’s “all-in” personality on staff and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.
“What I find so exciting about Neutral Cycle,” Patrick begins. “Is that it’s a very young shop, both in employees and customers, as well as the store itself. Because of that, it can essentially try anything.”