Courtesy Bmore Media – Fifteen years ago, entrepreneur Alex Obriecht was staring into a fiscal abyss.
Based on his calculations, the owner of Race Pace Bicycles would have to shutter his retail bike stores in a year if the Virginia chain Bikes USA continued to undercut him in price.
It was just a matter of how much money they were willing to throw to break smaller companies such as Race Pace to build a national chain.
Fortunately for Obriecht and his 90 employees, Bikes USA was forced to throw in the towel first. It went belly up in 1999 after running out of financing options. Race Pace, meanwhile has since expanded to a total of five Greater Baltimore stores, which pull in between $8 million and $10 million a year in sales. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News ranks the 35-year-old business as one of the top 100 bike shops in the U.S.
Next month, the company will relocate its Ellicott City store into a space where it can hold more inventory catering to women. Last year, Race Pace moved its Westminster shop to a 100-year-old, timber-frame building that it bought and completely renovated. Its other stores are located in Owings Mills, Federal Hill and Columbia. Its industry expertise, a commitment to customer service, and courting female bikers has helped the company speed ahead of the competition. The company has also benefitted from a growing interest in biking among environmentally aware city dwellers.
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