MISSION ELECTRIC BIKES
Tyler Justin was the operations manager of Citi Bike, the privately-owned bike-share system in New York City that serves 100,000 rides per day. He oversaw the fleet and even worked with them on some e-bike tests.
While he enjoyed the job, he and his wife wanted to start a family, and the big city didn’t seem conducive to the type of lifestyle they wanted. Pursuing a different day-to-day reality, they quit their jobs and moved to Providence, Rhode Island. Tyler’s company asked him to work with them remotely as a consultant for a year, which he did until January of 2018. He then took some time off to figure out what was next.
As they settled into their new home, they had one car, and Tyler thought the solution to not buying a second car was to buy a cargo e-bike. He decided on a Riese & Müller Load 60, which had full suspension, a Bosch Speed motor and a beefy cargo area up front. Visiting the bike shops in the Providence area, he was met with a lot of snobbery about wanting an e-bike. The few bike shops that had any e-bikes usually had only one and didn’t know much about it.
This was frustrating, especially given his work experience at Citi Bike. Although Tyler believed in the potential of e-bikes, nobody nearby was selling them. Soon enough, his past experience would shape the future that was yet
SELLING WHAT HE KNOWS
He had helped a few startup companies launch, but he’d never done it on his own. He knew this is what he wanted to do. He made the decision to start an electric bike shop. It became, well, his mission. He put his own money behind it, even did his own build-out of the space. and the shop had a soft opening in fall of 2018. He sold that inventory quickly, then started repeating that.
“At the peak of the summer of 2020, Tyler was assembling and selling 8–10 bikes a day.”
Mission only carries bikes with Bosch motors, mainly brands like Tern, Gazelle and Riese & Müller. Tyler says his reasoning is because Bosch already has so much brand recognition (for their power tools and kitchen appliances) and very high reliability. The only exception to this is the line of scooters the shop carries by Unagi. The bikes carried at the shop are focused on cargo, commuter and family bikes.
Like so many other bike shops in America, the pandemic caused a bike boom, and Mission was more than happy to play a part in that. At the peak of summer last year, Tyler was assembling and selling 8–10 bikes a day, and there was a line of people outside waiting for test rides.
Tyler laughed when he repeated a quip he often tells customers who buy an e-bike for their significant other: “I usually tell them, ‘See you again in two weeks!’ At which point they will ask, ‘What happens in two weeks?’, and I will reply, ‘That’s when you’ll be back to buy another e-bike!’ They laugh thinking that I’m joking, but almost invariably they are back in about two weeks to buy a second one so they can ride together more.”
THE ONE-MAN BAND
As part of his job as a one-man band, he is responsible for everything from sales and service to the design of the website. Interestingly, Tyler doesn’t sell online, preferring instead to concentrate on in-person sales so that customers can test ride a few bikes before making up their minds. He says that people come in wanting one specific bike, but after talking about it and riding a few bikes, they almost always buy something else. Spending time with customers and finding out what fits their needs is the boutique shopping experience that’s important to Tyler.
The shop’s goal is to connect with customers personally, and it seems to be working and contributing to its success. People come from Boston, New York City and other places within a few hours’ drive for that kind of personalized service.
Mission Electric Bikes is located at 198 Ives Street, Providence, RI, 02906. The shop is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Contact the shop at (401) 423-4400 or www.missionelectricbike.com.
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