Last February we received a message on Instagram: “The Nashville market is wide open for you guys.” It was from Nick Dryden, an award-winning architect in Nashville, who had just made the 2.5 hour trip to Chattanooga to buy a Faraday from the guys at Electric Bike Specialists. Sparked by his growing personal interest in electric bikes, Nick’s initial idea was to get an “office commuter” for his employees at Dryden Architecture and Design (DAAD) in order to run errands and get around town without worrying about the hassle of driving.
These days Nashville is one of those cities that shows up on lists alongside Denver, Portland, and Austin as one of America’s newest boom towns. It has a bustling downtown zone, hip neighborhoods, rich history, and relatively affordable real estate that’s attracting a net 100-ish new residents every day. Nick moved there in 1996 and saw the potential right away. The expanse of development opportunities presented the common challenge of building things that wouldn’t just provide a return or look pretty, but also have a broader positive impact on the community as a whole. A perfect fit for Nick’s background and principles as a builder.
As Nashville grows, the strains on an outdated and overstretched infrastructure are apparent. A recent study placed Nashville behind just 10 other cities for having the unenviable title of worst rush hour traffic in the country, coming at an estimated cost of $1,300 in lost productivity per person each year. Nashville has responded with an ambitious “Gear Up 2020” transportation plan that has actionable solutions to make the city more commuter friendly. Excitingly, bikes are positioned to play a bigger role.
Which brings us to back to Nick and his new Faraday. After a few phone calls, Nick saw an opportunity open a bike shop and come on board as our first dealer in the Nashville area, and the lone Faraday-only dealer in the country. The hopefully named “MOREBIKE” shop has been open for business since March 2017.
We caught up with Nick to ask him about his early success in the bike business.
I imagine you’re pretty busy running an architecture firm full time. What compelled you to get into the bike business?
Running our firm is a full time job for sure. The majority of our work involves projects that would greatly benefit from bike commuting as a transportation alternative. I bought a Faraday for our office as an alternative for our employees to bike from our office to job sites, meetings downtown where traffic congestion is time consuming and parking is expensive. Once we integrated the Faraday into our daily routines, I saw the great potential for ebikes in Nashville as a whole. Nashville is a perfect city for ebikes: it’s hilly and there is a great network of neighborhoods linked around the core of downtown. I began to recognize that there were no bike shops in town that were selling ebikes. I also realized that as architects, we have the opportunity to integrate well-designed products like Faraday bikes into our projects and become advocates for healthy transportation options overall.
Have you always been a cyclist? How’d you get interested in bikes?
Yes, I first became interested in bikes in high school. I didn’t have a car until I graduated from college! I commuted in college by bike and by foot. I became interested in ebikes after riding an ebike in Austin, TX. I realized immediately that ebikes would get people out of their cars and offer a convenient alternative for city commuting.
There’s a lot of talk these days about the struggles of retail. How are you managing that risk as a first-time bike shop owner?
Well, when I started our architecture practice 15 years ago, I never imagined that we would be involved in selling bikes. But I think as architects, I have come to realize that we often have opportunities to promote great design through many mediums and even influence policy through great design. Our shop at MOREBIKE is 100 square feet and previously was an archive storage space for our architecture firm, DAAD. We have minimized our footprint to keep overhead very low. We have a max of 10 bikes at any time in the shop and recognize that inventory and overhead can often be difficult for traditional bikes shops to manage.
Based on your Instagram feed it seems like you’ve had a lot of success focusing on test rides?
We have! The MOREBIKE shop is next door to our architecture studio. We have a lot of business traffic in and out of our office. Not a traditional retail destination, but a big design-minded and urban client base and progressive audience. We rotate different Faraday models in and out of a storefront window and everyone who comes to our office sees a bike in the window. Most people coming to our office are not looking for a bike. But inevitably once we show them a bike and get them on one, they are amazed and surprised by the riding sensation and see the potential for this as a viable commuter option for their lifestyles.
That’s great. Any best practices that you can share?
All you have to do is get people on these bikes. The smiles and instant outbursts of joy says it all. Since we are not a traditional retail store, we spend a lot of our time evangelizing the benefits of ebikes. Pop-up events and word of mouth have been our greatest vehicles in getting the word out. Also getting community influencers on Faraday bikes is a great way to increase visibility and awareness within the community.
All of our dealers have stories worth telling. Head on over to our Dealer Locator to find one near you.