This week we mark our entry into the world of online hard goods retail, including complete bicycles, specialty components, and other cycling accessories. We’re beginning with Stevens Bicycles, our new line of cross bikes, which we debut just in time for the beginning of cross season. The decision to go this route with our brand was made in equal parts by necessity, and desire to explore new horizons and seize what we feel is a moment of immense opportunity. This also requires no small degree of explanation to our loyal readers and customers.
For starters, the addition of bicycle products does not mark the end of our efforts as a publication. Quite to the contrary, we have every intention of continuing on with our print journal, which will remain an art-forward, independent voice for the cycling community. Similarly, we’ll be redoubling our online publishing efforts. We feel Embrocation offers a unique portal to narratives and stories, written and photographic content the likes of which you’ll not find anywhere else. This content is an extension of the lifestyle we’ve proudly chosen for ourselves and one we feel excited to share with the world.
Embrocation’s print journal has always been a physical manifestation of our love for bicycle art and culture, mostly devoid of advertising and outside corporate interests, and therefore reliant on a sales-based revenue model. This model works for some publications, and did indeed work for us – up to a point. Our desire to keep Embrocation pure and independent allowed us to print the journal we wanted, pay our bills, and make just a bit of money for ourselves at the end of the day. This business model, however, is incompatible with our true desires: to foster a community of like-minded cyclists; to sponsor athletes; and to be active, contributing, progressive members of the cycling community, not merely bystanders reporting on the goings-on.
And so we continue our publication efforts, but add to this the retail component. In many ways, the new retail business is a return to what we know best. Jeremy and I both came of age in bicycle shops. We worked the retail floor, fixed flat tires, fit helmets on people’s heads, got kids and adults on new bikes. We got our hands dirty, sold a lot of bikes, and made a lot of people happy. We had a blast and learned a lot in over two decades and six bike shops worth of combined experience.
So this new business, while a departure from our previous model, is nothing new to us. It’s a return to our core competency as individuals and another extension of our love for bicycle sport, culture, and machine.
This new business also marks a behind-the-scenes improvement to our order fulfillment and processing abilities. We’ve teamed up with International Bicycle Centers, one of the Boston area’s oldest and most respected retailers, to help us manage the back-end processes of the bicycle sales business. All complete bicycles we sell will be professionally assembled, boxed, and shipped by International’s highly experienced mechanical staff. Additionally, we’ve improved our order processing system for all products we sell, not just bicycles. This means faster turn-around time on all orders placed and simplified customer communications in the form of order and shipment tracking capabilities. We have improved our live channels (phone and email contact) and encourage contact if you would like to discuss any of the products we now offer.
In addition to Stevens, over the coming weeks we will be bringing on a house line of bikes, tires, chainrings, other cyclocross-specific products, and more clothing for both on bike and off. We’ll also be unveiling a whole new website in the coming months that will be a unique hybrid of improved editorial capabilities combined with a slick online store for our specialty products. All in all, we’re taking Embrocation into a new realm of specialty retail, while bolstering our editorial efforts. It’s going to be a fun project and another adventure.