100-year-old Goodale’s sells to Trek amid bicycling boom

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Dustin Iverson inflates a tire at Goodale’s Bike Shop last week. If your bike has been sitting in the garage (or worse, outside) for the past six months or so, you’ll want to make sure first and foremost that you have air in your tires — it makes riding a lot more fun. Photo/Jon Bodell

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Before selling to Trek Bicycle Corporation last month, Brad Hill had owned Goodale’s Bike Shops in Concord, Hooksett and Nashua for nearly 50 years. Although he didn’t always look at it that way.

“You don’t really own retail; retail owns you,” Hill, 66, said from his home in Antrim. “And once I went on Medicare a year ago, it just started to feel like, you know, it was time.”

Hill began working at Goodale’s in Nashua in 1966. Five years later, with some financial help from his parents, he bought the store. He opened up the Hooksett location in 1996, opened up the Concord store in 2006 and celebrated Goodale’s 100th year in business in 2019.

Tracking customers’ ZIP codes led to Hill expanding to both Hooksett and Concord.

“We were just looking at where our customer base was coming from and what we were missing for a market share, so that’s how we ended up in Concord,” Hill said. “We did well there, and we also got a lot of business from people coming into Concord from Epsom and all along Route 4. That was something I didn’t know, that people would come into Concord from that area to shop, so that helped, too.”

Bicycle sales have soared during the coronavirus pandemic, with people looking for exercise options that are socially distanced and outside, as well as alternatives to public transportation. So, it may be surprising that Hill closed down Goodale’s Concord location in the spring soon after the pandemic hit the U.S., until he explains why.

“It was a lack of help and, over and above that, a lack of inventory,” Hill said.

Several of his Concord employees chose not to work during the pandemic because, as Hill said, “They were getting that COVID money from the federal government, which was a phenomenal amount of money, plus whatever they were getting from the state.” Then, as bikes started flying out of all three stores and new inventory was backlogged, Hill decided to consolidate his products and his people into the Hooksett and Nashua stores and temporarily close the Concord location.

He said that Trek is planning to reopen the Concord store on Oct. 1 and it, like the shops in Hooksett and Nashua, will still have that familiar Goodale’s name.

“It’s the first place in this country where Trek is going to keep the name of the store,” Hill said. “They just bought some places in Rhode Island and it’s Trek-Warwick, Trek-Providence, but with their market analysis, they decided to keep Goodale’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw new stores in New England using the Goodale’s name.”

Goodale’s won’t carry multiple brands now that Trek (one of the largest bicycle brands in the world) owns the store, but it will continue to service and repair all brands. And Hill feels like he’s left the business, which he spent a lifetime building and maintaining, in good hands.

“First of all, in retail you’re lucky if you can sell your business. Most of the time you just have a going-out-of-business sale and have to shut the doors, but we were profitable and did a large volume of business and Trek knew that,” Hill said.

“And I feel great about selling to Trek,” he continued. “They took all 63 of the employees with it, and they’ve even hired a fair amount of additional employees. (Trek) is the largest supplier in the industry and I think they probably have the most retail stores in the country. So, they know what they’re doing and what they’re getting, and I think people will be happy with them.”

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org. 


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