By Rick Vosper
This is Part 1 of a two-part series exploring the new market dynamic for the specialty retail segment, how we got there, and how the industry can respond and adapt to the new reality. This section is primarily focused on the “how we got where we are today” part of the story.
I note there is plenty of room here for alternative points of view and frankly, I expect a lively discussion.
Bike 1.0: When Schwinn Ruled the Earth
What I’m calling the 1.0 era is the postwar period of relative stability from 1950-75 (more or less). A single market leader, Schwinn, effectively controlled much of both the supply and retail sides of the specialty business channel. Schwinn had a well-organized, well-managed and marketed, vertically integrated supply chain based on domestic production. At the same time, it created, nurtured and maintained a strong network of semi-independent retailers.
The resulting dynamic was a largely stable market and birth of what we would now recognize as the modern independent bicycle retail landscape. But Schwinn’s efforts were so successful the company was subject to a restraint of trade lawsuit in 1957, dragging on for 10 exhausting years. As a result, Schwinn …read more