BikeSport is up and running in their new location. The Ballard institution since 1995 was forced to move when the building was sold for development of an assisted living facility. Owner, Scott Kowal said recently regarding the move, “Though we didn’t want to leave the neighborhood, we had no choice.” He explained that the new shop location keeps them in Ballard though no longer in its center. “The trade-off,” he explained “is being near the [Burke-Gilman] trail.” In addition, the building’s owners are local and committed to the community.
BikeSport’s mission is to meet the needs of any customer. “Shopping for a bicycle should be fun,” explains Kowal. He believes that all levels of riders from the person who has never ridden whether adult or child to an expert whether a racer or a pleasure rider should be comfortable when entering the shop. Shop attitude is a quality that Kowal emphasizes. He explains that its important to meet the customer where they are in their experience and comfort level assisting them with the choice to purchase a bicycle that they are and will continue to be happy with. Summing up his statement, he finishes saying, “Everyone deserves dignity, honesty and integrity.” Kowal’s employees reflect that value.
Meeting the needs of every customer is reflected in the stock carried by the store. BikeSport bicycles represent the spectrum; kids’ bikes, comfort bikes, commute bikes, road bikes. Though BikeSport doesn’t have high end racers, employees are knowledgeable about models and componentry to discuss with customers interested in that line of bicycle. They do, however, sell a lot of Striders, balance bikes without pedals for little kids. Their best selling bike according to Kowal is the Jamis Coda Sport. The Coda Sport, also the bike used by Seattle Children’s Hospital, is versatile; comfortable for casual riding as well as commuting. The steel frame provides a smooth ride and flat handlebars allow for a more upright position. In addition, he explains, the price is a good entry level for a lot of bicyclists. Higher in price, is the Cannondale Synapse which is also quite popular.
Like many, Scott Kowal bicycled as a kid, but when an aunt and uncle rode cross country to Washington from the East coast, he really got interested in cycling. His cycling interests fill the gamete of pleasure riding, racing, charity rides. However, owning a bike shop was a desire since high school so when BikeSport became available, it fit the bill. Kowal says, “It is rewarding to be part of an industry I’m passionate about,” saying that his biggest reward is “watching people leave here with a smile on their face, and knowing we’ve done what we’re supposed to.” Kowal applies his years of experience in retail and retail management to his passion for bicycling.
BikeSport is more than a shop. Involved in the community, BikeSport sponsors a racing team, Market Street Cycling Club, is the support shop for the SCCA/Starbucks Cycling Team, and sponsored the Washington State Cycle Cross Championships. However, providing bicycles for Seattle Children’s Hospital is very special. Not only is it a wonderful opportunity to promote bicycling in Seattle, Kowal explained, for him, it’s personal; a way of giving back. His son when adopted from China received treatment at Children’s. When Kowal was approached by a Jamis service manager whether he was interested in vending for Children’s, he contacted, then bicycle program director, Doug Burgesser. A relationship was built. Today, BikeSport offers on-site service two days a-week as well as providing the Jamis Coda Sports to the hospital’s specifications. BikeSport continues to be a family owned, local-hiring business.