After spending 20 years in the same spot, the city of Bothell’s ambitious plans to redefine itself caught up with what had become a local institution in the form of Bothell Ski and Bike.
If co-owner Greg Pergament has anything to say about it, the shop will remain a local institution — even if relocated — for some time to come.
Because of Bothell’s plans to redo its downtown and realign its major streets, Bothell Ski and Bike moved a grand total of 1.6 miles and crossed city boundaries into Kenmore, landing at 8020 N.E. Bothell Way. Obviously for business reasons, the shop retained the “Bothell” part of its name.
“We’ve really been welcomed by the city of Kenmore,” said Pergament, who is himself a city resident. Pergament bought the Bothell store with brother-in-law John Ethen four years ago.
Regarding the move from Bothell, Pergament said so far the change hasn’t hurt his business in the least, that the new facility is actually an improvement over the old one in a number of ways.
“We’ve actually seen a lot of new customers,” he added, drawn in he believes at least partly from the popular Burke-Gilman Trail, a stretch that meanders right across the street from the bike shop.
On an afternoon last week, the store was crowded, with a good deal of traffic headed toward the mechanic area in the center of the store. Pergament said as they designed the new location, he and Ethen made sure their mechanics were in plain view of customers.
“A lot of people hide their mechanics in the back, but we didn’t want to do that,” Pergament said.
He added that at the old Bothell store, visitors would have to carry their bikes or ski equipment down a set of stairs to reach the store’s repair area. At the Kenmore store, with automatic doors, a visitor’s bike doesn’t even have to leave the ground.
In previous lives, the building that is now Bothell Ski and Bike served as several different kinds of restaurants, according to Pergament. None seemed to really catch on and the building was empty when the partners purchased it with relocation money provided by the city of Bothell.
“We basically stripped it down to the studs,” Pergament said of the former eatery. On the topic of rebuilding, he added he likes the reconstruction the city of Kenmore undertook on Bothell Way, or State Route 522, though Pergament also noted his shop opened after the worst of the construction headaches were over on that stretch of the road.
Predictably, Pergament and Ethen both are dedicated cyclists. Ethen is a former coach for the U.S. women’s World Cup cycling team. His daily commute is a 40-mile round-trip bike ride from his home in Ballard.
Pergament rides every day himself, but added he also was always a big fan of skiing and snowboarding. Buying Bothell Ski and Bike allowed him to mix those activities with his interest in business and finance.
“I sort of married my two passions,” he said.
As cycling activities obviously peak during the summer months, Bothell Ski and Bike is currently mostly a bike shop, filled with cycles and related gear, from helmets to sun glasses. The price of the bikes range from a few hundred bucks up to top-flight models with price tags of over $5,000.
“We cater to everyone,” Pergament said, adding he preaches to his staff that the beginner who buys the $300 bike could become a dedicated, return customer.
Incidentally, what makes a top-of-the-line bike worth more than some used cars? Pergament said it’s the materials, which can include everything from titanium frames to ceramic bearings. The higher-end bikes also tend to feature more aerodynamic designs.
“It’s all about increasing the efficiency of the bike,” Pergament said.
Despite the move and having some added space, the partners have no plans to expand beyond their current product offerings.
“We want to try and stay focused,” Pergament said. “We don’t want to be a department store.”