Ashland Couple Owns Store Named Bicycle Retailer Of Excellence
By Susan Manning
For the second year, Steve the Bike Guy, an independent bicycle shop in Sherborn, Massachusetts has been named a Bicycle Retailer of Excellence by the National Bicycle Dealers Association of America (NBDA).
During an intensive evaluation process, participating shops are graded on a range of categories including customer service; the shop’s interior and exterior; marketing and branding; business operations and profitability; community involvement, leadership and ride advocacy. Based on points awarded during the process, Steve the Bike Guy was named a Platinum level shop, the highest level awarded.
Founded in 2011 by Steve Brandt, an avid rider and licensed USA Cycling Race Mechanic, and his wife Kristin, Steve the Bike Guy is a family-owned and operated shop committed to creating community by making connections through bicycles. Information about the Shop can be found at SteveTheBikeGuy.com.
According to the NBDA “The Award celebrates diversity and excellence in bicycle retail. With a focus on inclusivity, the program unites retailers, suppliers, industry organizations, advocates, and consumers in identifying and highlighting exceptional bicycle stores across North America. These recipients are awarded not only for their excellence in retail but their integrity, inclusiveness, spirit, and commitment to grow ridership.”
A nonprofit supported by the membership of participating retailers and industry partners The National Bicycle Dealers Association exists to strengthen these businesses through education, research, communication, and advocacy with the understanding that when we create thriving bicycle retailers the industry and the cycling community follows.
Q and a with Steve and Kristin
How did you persevere through Covid?
The simple fact is, that we would not have made it without the kindness and patience of our customers, neighbors, and friends who supported us, recommended us, and hung in there as we all figured out how to do business in most unusual times.
Before COVID, Steve was a true one-man show. After the Shop became a true family affair with Kristin and their children, Sophie and Anders, stepping up to help, something they continue to do today.
We were also able to pivot quickly to adapt to the pandemic. With waiting lists for service appointments stretching 4-6 weeks, we leveraged Steve’s mechanical skills to introduced Saturday Drop-In Service, allowing people to come by for quick fixes and repairs at a time when waiting lists for service appointments were very long. The service has proved to be so popular that we continue Saturday Service to this day.
What does the award mean to you?
While the Award is a nice recognition of the work we’ve done to build community and encourage ridership, we hope it serves as validation for all our customers of the choice they make when they support a small business like STBG.
How are you involved in Ashland?
We have two children - Sophie is a rising senior, and Anders is a sophomore at UMass Amherst, having graduated with the class of 2021.
Since 2010, Kristin has served as leader of their daughter’s Girl Scout troop, a role she is most surprised to be continuing with today, leading a troop of 7 seniors. In the past, Steve served as a member of the town’s Conservation Committee while Kristin helped the Friends of the Ashland Library and Ashland Lacrosse. Kristin has ridden in the Pan-Mass Challenge for the past 5 years and both are scheduled to ride in the Pan-Mass Challenge’s first gravel fundraiser, Unpaved, in October 2022.
How long have you lived in Ashland?
We have lived on Grover Road, behind the high school, since 2003 (!).
What’s the best part of being a small business owner?
Flexibility to manage our schedules, the ability to find creative solutions to challenges, and working together as a family are three of the best parts of being small business owners. But, specific to owning a bike shop – This past weekend we watched a woman, who hadn’t been on a bike in over 30 years, take her first tentative spins around the parking lot. That moment of simple happiness and joy is what keeps us going even as we continue to face supply chain issues and cost increases.
Why Sherborn for a location?
The location in Sherborn has a lot of things in its favor including lots of parking and a large yard (which we used quite a bit during the pandemic when people couldn’t come inside); local shopping and food options for visitors; access to a growing trail system for mountain biking and high visibility from riders and drivers. We’ve been fortunate to have the support of our neighbors here in Sherborn and surrounding towns.
Where did they grow up?
Steve grew up outside of Syracuse, New York. Kristin grew up in Natick, and is a graduate of Natick High School. Her parents still live in Natick, and Kristin is on the Board of the Natick Center Cultural District.
Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to see in a story?
We see the recommendations, shares, and comments from our friends and neighbors in Ashland, and are incredibly grateful for their support.