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Veloce Velo cruises onto Mercer Island
Half of the former Mercer Island Hollywood Video storefront will shift from one form of entertainment to another later this month after a slew of bikes replaces the hundreds of VHS and DVDs that once lined the store walls.
“The bike industry is still going pretty well, even through the recession,” Graham Hunter, the owner, said.
A changing rental-industry business model, high lease rates and a bad economy forced the closure of Mercer Island Hollywood Video in December 2009, according to a representative of the chain.
In its place, the massive retail space will now house two businesses, Veloce Velo on the south side of the store, and Mud Bay on the north side.
The new store has a great central location, said Hunter, who works part-time in the software industry and spends the rest of his time at the bike shop.
“One pays the bills; the other builds the future,” he said.
Hunter also has a wife, Nindy, who works at Microsoft, and two sons, 6-year-old Nikkil and 3-year-old Kieran.
Hunter’s first store, which opened in Issaquah in 2007, will shift its dual mountain and road bike focus solely to mountain bikes. The new Island store will cater to road bike enthusiasts and hobbyists alike, and serve as a central meeting place for the Puget Sound bike community.
Hunter hopes the location will be a community meeting for cyclists: a place to socialize, talk, shop, share favorite routes and find others to bike with.
Veloce Velo isn’t in the market to compete with chain stores, but its pricing is comparable to other local shops, Hunter said.
“We’re not trying to be everything for everyone,” he said of his decision to stock the store with high-quality bikes, accessories and apparel.
Hunter found that cheap bikes — mostly those under $500 — don’t sell, especially after a shopper learns of the difference between the low and high-end models.
The most popular bikes at Veloce Velo are in the $2,000 to $4,000 range, he said.
Hunter plans to hire more employees for the Mercer Island store, although he’s not sure how many he’ll need yet.
“We have our core staffing right now, and we’ll just have to see how busy we get,” he said. “We’re going to learn a lot of lessons in the next couple months.”
Even before the initial opening, Hunter has received plenty of positive feedback on the concept and the location, mostly from Mercer Island residents.
The store will open this week, and the grand opening will take place Aug. 27 and 28.
“We’ll have some really cool, brand new product,” Hunter said of the grand opening event. Industry representatives, including Soren Krebs of BMC, will fly in from all over the country — Boston, California, Philadelphia, Colorado and North Carolina.
Check it out
Veloce Velo will hold a grand opening celebration on Aug. 27-28 at the store.
For more information about Veloce Velo, visit www.velocevelo.com.