Chapel Hill is home to a variety of bicycle shops such as PARcycles, Recyclery NC and Back Alley Bikes within a couple of miles of campus, so Performance’s closing does not leave consumers without options.
“I would like to think that they'll come to us more since we have less competition,” said Howie Mandel, an employee at The Bicycle Chain in Chapel Hill. “Performance was a discounter — they sold bikes of a slightly lesser quality at lower prices, so those customers are going to still be looking for those kinds of bikes. Over time, we're going to probably expand our inventory to cover that.”
Nezat said though Performance’s discounted prices may be attractive to entry-level consumers, local bike stores can fill that niche.
“When you're new and you're looking into bike stores, I think it's easy to go to a shop like Performance,” Nezat said. “I think there's kind of a perception that if you go to a local store, they're going to look down on you because you're new and you don't know what you're talking about. I suggest you go to a local bike store, talk to some people. They can give you some really good advice.”
Nezat also said he believes the premium consumers may pay at local stores is worth it because it goes to support the cycling community.
Some cyclists value brick and mortar stores for their customer service and maintenance. Although Performance provided these services as well, Nezat and Mandel said locally-owned shops provide the best service.
Before Mandel worked at The Bicycle Chain, he worked at the Chapel Hill Performance Bicycle. He said he believes Performance is unable to provide the same services as other local bike shops due to cultural problems within the business.
“It was too many young people running the show. It felt like the kids were in charge,” Mandel said. “The service department there was weak because it didn't have the kind of depth of experience that you expect. Nothing but complaints at Performance. Here everyone loves the service department.”
Regardless of the criticism, Bliss, who works for ASE, still has positive words for her former competitors.
“Support the other local bike shops in the area,” Bliss said. “Banding together is the best thing that we can do to keep the sport going.”