Andrew Crooks - NYC Velo (10 Questions With)
We recently fired off 10 questions to Andrew Crooks (owner and operator of NYC's iconic NYC Velo Bike Shops.) We have known Andrew for quite some time and he was one of the very first anywhere to carry SAS garments. And they still do today. We thank Andrew for the support and taking the time to answer our questions offering insight into both Andrew and his shops. Read on please!
1) How long ago did you open NYC Velo and what made you want to be a bike shop owner?
AC: I opened NYC. Velo in the East Village in May 2005, Hastings Velo in May 2011 and NYC Velo in Hell's Kitchen in December 2013. I've been a cyclist for over 30 years and always loved visiting bike shops as I traveled. As a consumer, I appreciated getting good quality service at my local bike shop and still believe that the best way to purchase a bike is in person from a knowledgeable shop, getting your bike repaired even more so. In 2005 I was at a point in my career where it made sense to put the plan that I had developed into action here in NYC.
2) What has been the most rewarding, and the most challenging, parts of running the shops?
AC: The most rewarding part of my job is making our customers happy! The most challenging part of owning a bike shop is making sure that none of the balls that you're juggling get dropped - it seems like an insurmountable task sometimes.
3) Do you feel like there is camaraderie in the NYC bike scene among shop owners, vendors, riders, etc? Or does it feel like a competitive battle all the time?
AC: In New York City, as far as I know, shop owners tend to get along but I wouldn't say that there's a lot of camaraderie between us (the market is just too competitive!). The bike scene is so large & diverse that there are myriad different cycling groups, everyone gets along and is supportive of each other, but there's no overarching organization.
4) If you didn't own the shops and were not in the bike industry what would you be doing?
AC: At this point, I can't imagine that I would have been happy doing anything else, but if I had to say I'd probably be a bored engineer/consultant (my previous career).
5) We've ridden with you many times and have noticed that you seem to have no problem holding a conversation on the steep climbs and never run out of gas. How is this so:
AC: I fake it pretty well.
6) With the gravel/wide tire revolution in progress, what do you think the future looks like for the true road scene on hard, skinny tires in the NYC area?
AC: I participate actively in both disciplines but you just can't beat the feeling of riding a well-made road bike (fast) on 25mm tires.
7) The supply chain landscape in this industry has changed so much over the years. Can you still put an emphasis on Made in America or Made in NYC products in the shops?
AC: I can and do. The production story means something to me, and it's not just romantic. I value, as a consumer and a shop owner, products that are made well, made to last, and made responsibly. Often, even today, the best way to achieve this is through domestic production.
8) You own multiple shops, have children, and are active in the industry. What's the secret to juggling all of it and having success in multiple areas of your life?
AC: I haven't found the secret, just constantly practicing stress management techniques (including riding in fun places), having an amazing family & staff, and being ok handling failure when you just can't get to everything.
9) If you could implement 2 immediate changes to the bike industry or cycling in general what would they be?
AC: I'd like to see the industry make some real efforts to improve diversity within its ranks, and I'd like to see companies genuinely reduce (ideally eliminate) all the disposable crap that's produced -- make it well, make it once, & keep it out of the landfill.
10) On a scale from 1-11 how stressful is it being a bike shop owner?
AC: Well, nobody's life depends on what I do (we make lives better but we don't save them) and most of the stress seems self-induced, so let's call it a 9.
11) Bonus....because we always go to 11. If you could thank 3 people today for where you are in your life who would they be?
AC: My wife, my parents, and my twin brother.