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Sprockets Bicycle Shop announces closure

Sprockets Bicycle Shop announces closure

Sprockets Bicycle Shop announces closure
November 05
12:00 2022

Sprockets Bicycle Shop, known for its “customer service manager” Kitsuné Doge, a Shiba Inu who frequents the store, has served the Denton community for a decade.

Located just off the square on West Hickory Street, Sprockets aims to provide affordable, high-quality bicycle sales and service. The business became a part of the local landscape when it opened in August 2011, but at the end of this year, Sprockets will close its doors permanently.

Sprockets announced their official closing date on Facebook on Oct. 19.

Owner and university alumnus Brandon Dupré said the shop hit its peak in the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. Up until 2020, the store’s primary customer base was college students, so once lockdowns and online classes started there was less of a need for bike service. During this time, however, the customer base shifted from college students who needed bikes to commute to families who took up bike riding during quarantine.

“It is a different market that we weren’t really fully set up for, so we weren’t able to handle everything that they wanted,” Dupré said. “Although [business] was more successful for us in that time, it wasn’t a lasting success. With college kids, if you get them early, they buy the bike from you [and] know to take it to you — you have that customer for the entire time they’re at UNT or TWU.”

After the lockdown ended, the sudden boom of families purchasing bikes declined, but the number of college student customers never returned to its pre-pandemic state. This year, Dupré was given an opportunity to return to his photography career full-time. This opportunity, along with a decline in customers and rising building rent, led to the decision to close Sprockets.

“I will really miss the customer interaction — especially college kids — [and] seeing someone [get] into cycling for the first time and [enjoy] it, but retail is very hard and after doing it most of my life, I’m a little burnt out,” Dupré said.

Brandon Dupré of Sprockets Bicycle Shop provides bike services at his downtown Denton storefront on Oct. 26, 2022. Photo by Sarah Hogan

Dupré originally got into the bike business as a college student when he and his friend, previous Sprockets owner Sipo Thao, sold bicycles out of Thao’s garage.

“He was trying to impress his future father-in-law by owning a business,” Dupré said. “It worked because he’s married to the girl now.”

After doing photography full-time while pursuing an undergraduate photography degree, Dupré was burnt out and saw this prospective business as a way to branch out and try new things. The same year, Dupré and Thao relocated from Thao’s garage to a small building near campus on North Texas Boulevard.

“As a photographer you’re independent, so [running a business] was still up in my wheelhouse, as far as doing my own thing,” Dupré said. “We saw a need — at the time, there was no one selling used bikes […] so we saw an opportunity to fit into a market that was underserved at the time.”

After a few years, Sprockets outgrew their small space and relocated to their current location downtown. With growth and relocation came the need for more help around the store, so part-time and full-time employees were hired.

“The [old] shop was very small,” Dupré said. “We were only selling maybe a bike a week. When we moved, at our height, we were selling up to 10, 15 bikes a week.”

Sprockets employee and Garland, Texas native Cliff Meagley started at the shop as an apprentice in March 2019. He was eventually hired as a part-time employee and is now the only full-time employee at Sprockets other than Dupré.

“I pretty much commuted by bike my whole life, so when I moved to Denton, I needed a bike shop,” Meagley said. “I came here a couple times for different things and eventually asked for a job.”

Sprockets customer and Denton resident Adam Robertson said he found more than just customer service at Sprockets – he found community and friendship in Dupré and other customers.

“[Sprockets] was great for the community of Denton in that it introduced a lot of people to commuting by bicycle and it made cyclists more of a visible presence on the roads around town,” Robertson said. “The more of us there are, the safer we hopefully all are.”

For now, the shop is still open for business as usual, selling bikes and making repairs. Sprockets’ final day in business will be Dec. 17.

Featured Image: Sprocket’s furry friend, Kit, eagerly awaits customers in downtown Denton on Oct. 26, 2022. Photo by Sarah Hogan

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Kaitlynn Hutchins

Kaitlynn Hutchins

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