Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Diane Cutler, co-owner of Bryson City Bicycles, explains how this image represents her business.
Bicycling is fun, but the bike business can be a tough way to make a living. Being situated near a world-class mountain biking destination certainly helps, but we believe that giving back to our local community is what keeps our business buzzing.
My co-owner Andy (pictured above) and I uprooted our lives in suburbia to create a simpler, more fulfilling life for ourselves – one full of natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities. In 2009, we moved to Bryson City in the mountains of North Carolina, a popular vacation destination in the Great Smoky Mountains, to open the bike shop and embark on our new life. We never looked back.
Bryson City Bicycles does what typical bike shops do – sell and rent bicycles, and provide service and repairs. But unlike typical shops in major metropolitan areas, our customer base is quite small and depends predominantly on vacationers. Because of this, our revenue stream plateaued after only a few years in business, and resources became scarce.
However, in 2016, Synchrony Financial recognized us for our business and community ambitions with a $20,000 "Working Forward Small Business Award," allowing us to take the next step. With half of the award, we added an e-commerce platform to enhance our brick-and mortar-store and reach faraway customers.
The other half of the award money was used to donate bikes to the local high school to help kids get active. Many of the students have not been able to enjoy the trails surrounding their hometown due to lack of resources or proper equipment and training. We used our vendor relationships to more than double the value of the bikes, helmets and other equipment. The photo captures Andy building one of 17 performance mountain bicycle, which will be used for physical education classes, intramurals and potentially a summer program.
For us, every single kid we get on a bike is a success story. Bikes can make you healthy, strong, confident and happy, and we're thrilled to be able to provide our community.
Moving forward, Bryson City Bicycles looks toward increasing sales through the omni-channel offerings made possible by Synchrony Financial's award. Additionally, the stellar success of the high school bike donation has tightened our focus on helping find ways to get even more kids on bikes.
Edited for brevity and clarity by Sammi Caramela.