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Monday, March 25 , 2019, 12:34 pm | A Few Clouds 61º


Bruce Davis Keeps Hazard’s Cyclesport Shop On a Roll

Santa Barbara retailer hits its stride in serving riders of all skill levels and supporting a variety of community events and organizations

Bruce Davis purchased Hazard’s Cyclesport in 1992 and hasn’t looked back. “Our customers range from beginners to world-class racers to Olympians,” he says, “and we treat everyone the same.”
Bruce Davis purchased Hazard’s Cyclesport in 1992 and hasn’t looked back. “Our customers range from beginners to world-class racers to Olympians,” he says, “and we treat everyone the same.”  (Jenn Kennedy photo / www.kennedypix.com)

Santa Barbara is a bike-friendly town. Cyclists share the roads with cars and gather in various configurations, including racing teams, midnight rides, film festivals (CycleMAYnia) and fashion shows (Santa Barbara Cycle Chic), for exercise, conservation and friendships. Bruce Davis, owner of Hazard’s Cyclesport, has been at the center of this cohesive community for two decades.

Originally from Santa Barbara, Davis spent a few years in Los Angeles working as a stuntman. He later returned to work for Alpha Beta grocery store. He began as a box boy and worked his way up to manager. He says that to this day he sees customers who knew him in that role 20 years ago and still remember his face.

Always a cyclist, Davis laughs as he confesses that back in the day, he rode to high school at San Marcos on a Schwinn Sting-Ray — which he alone thought was cool. He eventually took up mountain biking and began racing road bikes in the 1980s. Declaring himself short on attention, Davis says triathlons fulfill his desire to multitask. He took up competing in Olympic distance triathlons throughout California.

Davis had a friend who owned both Hazard’s and Mac’s bike shops in Santa Barbara. He jokingly told him that he would be interested in buying if the friend ever wanted to sell a shop. Four years later, the call came, and Davis scrambled to make it happen.

He worked in the store to learn both the mechanics of bike repair as well as the day-to-day operations of running the business. He first bought Mac’s, then 18 months later, in 1992, purchased Hazard’s. After two years, he decided running two stores was too much, so he closed Mac’s and moved Hazard’s to its current location at 110 Anacapa St., in the Funk Zone.

Davis says working retail of any sort requires patience and an appreciation for the public.

“Retail is retail, and you have to be a people person to do it well,” he said.

When hiring, he looks for potential employees who like cycling, but equally important is that they enjoy interacting with people. Davis has a store motto that anybody who rides a bike is cool.

“Our customers range from beginners to world-class racers to Olympians,” he said, “and we treat everyone the same.”

During his 18 years in business, Davis says he has learned a lot about being an entrepreneur. Besides bike sales and repair, he has added marketing, advertising, promotion and bookkeeping to his bailiwick.

“I continue to learn as the shop expands and we better understand what the customer wants,” he said, adding that he also conducts bike repair clinics at the store.

Davis said he has noticed spikes in his business during events such as the Tour de France and Ironman competitions. The Santa Barbara and Carpinteria triathlons also bring in a range of athletes to Hazard’s via organizations such as Moms in Motion, Team in Training and Momentum4Life. His store adjoins Santa Barbara Running Co. to serve that market, and he offers complete gear, accessories and supplements for swimmers and bicyclists.

While Davis has done some advertising, he said his dollars are better spent sponsoring cycling clubs, various sporting events and through alliances with the Santa Barbara Police Department’s tactical division and UCSB’s triathlon and road racing teams.

Davis proudly notes that Hazard’s, which opened in 1914, is the oldest bike shop in the country.

“With the efforts of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, a countywide bicycling advocacy nonprofit organization,” he said, “we have a city that really supports and appreciates cycling.”

Noozhawk contributor Jenn Kennedy can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to see more of her work.

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