Shelly Salamon, owner of Fairmount Bicycles, has welcomed various milestones since the grand opening of her small business in June of 2010. She now has a second storefront, Brewerytown Bicycles, which has doubled her employee size and strengthened the reliability of her brand. Partnered with several local organizations, such as YouthBuild Philly and Neighborhood Bike Works, Fairmount and Brewerytown Bicycles have become stable, trusted sources of cycling products, education, training, and community engagement.
Shelly has been naturally drawn to bikes all her life; as a child, her best friend was really into bikes, which began Shelly’s organic, fond love for them. When she grew older, Shelly would go on to study film in college while earning money on the side doing bike repairs. She realized how convenient it was to commute the city via bicycle, so she asked residents in her neighborhood—the Fairmount area—if there was a need for a bike and repair shop in the area. There was.
In the summer of 2010, Shelly came to Entrepreneur Works to write a formal business plan. “Taking Entrepreneur Works' class made me realize it was definitely possible,” says Shelly. Through Entrepreneur Works’ business skills workshops, Shelly also received help with budgeting and cash flow projections. She also learned how important pricing was—being savvy about pricing was a lot smarter than simply “being the cheapest tune-up in town.”
Even though Entrepreneur Works has helped her with Fairmount Bicycles’s financial plan, Shelly could not avoid the inevitable bumps that come with developing any small business, such as the trouble she faced in expanding to two storefronts. With patience and listening closely to her coworkers’ and customers’ needs, Shelly came to improve the productivity of owning both workplaces by entrusting a fully capable staff and manager at Brewerytown, where she does not work. Shelly advises others: “You really have to be comfortable with other people being in charge if you want to have more than one location.” In addition, splitting the responsibility and staff skillset has effectively allowed Shelly’s products and services to be divided nicely between locations, as now she can conveniently and knowledgeably tell customers where to get specific items such as “a fleet of rental mountain bikes” at Brewerytown, which the Fairmount store does not provide.
Shelly’s storefront and product expansion, along with her business’s heightening community outreach, has garnered quite the loyal customer fan base. “People will often ask us how we're doing because they want to make sure we stick around! I think a lot of folks know that owning a small business can be tough work, and it's reassuring to know a business is doing well and that they're here to stay.” Some of the long-term fans are those who Shelly has seen grow out of their young-aged “training wheels,” so to speak: “It’s really wild to see the kids that were coming in as 9-year olds turn into little teenagers with deep voices,” Shelly shared.
Today, Fairmount and Brewerytown Bicycles offer rentals, repairs, a wide range of commuter bikes, and a bike tour business, Philly Bike Tour Co., which offers guided bicycle tours of Philadelphia with different themed trips.