The eBay seller plans a national trade-in program for bike shops.
Words by BRAIN staff, Bicycle Retailer / Photos by The Pro’s Closet
BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — The Pro’s Closet’s founders have sold a minority stake in the company to the investment firm Range Light LLC for $2.5 million and are preparing to launch its used bike trade-in program nationally.
TPC began 9 years ago as an eBay consignment seller, specializing in selling off extra bike stuff that Boulder’s many pro cyclists had in their closets. The company now operates the largest bike “store” on eBay.
The company has been testing its Trade-Up program with stores in Boulder and Denver. The program allows consumers to get a trade-in quote for their bike from a store’s website, then bring their old bike to the store and exchange it for store credit. TPC runs vans around to participating stores in Boulder and Denver to collect the trade-in bikes. TPC operates a satellite warehouse in Denver in addition to its main warehouse and headquarters in Boulder.
(BRAIN wrote about The Pro’s Closet’s Trade-Up program, along with competing programs from other companies, in a feature article in our January 1, 2016 issue.)
Now the company is preparing to go national with a two-pronged approach: It plans to operate small warehouses similar to its Denver one in a handful of major bike markets, like San Francisco, Austin and Portland. In those communities, TPC employees will collect trade-in bikes from stores much as they do now in Colorado. In other markets, participating shops will be provided with a bike packing and shipping system to send the traded-in bikes to TPC. Some shops nationally are already doing this.
“We’re trying to give shops another tool to make sales,” company founder Nick Martin told BRAIN on Monday.
Martin said the investment funds are being used to build out the technology behind the national system. The company recently brought on a Chief Technology Officer, James Bradley.
“What he’s done in two days already blows my mind; I can’t wait to see what he does in a year,” Martin said.
Range Light, which has offices in Boulder and Chicago, specializes in investing in companies in the active lifestyle, natural foods and technology markets. One of its investments is in Freedom Electronics, a firm that resells used electronics, a business similar to The Pro’s Closet.
Martin said he expects it will take until the end of the year to complete the technology necessary to support the national program.
The Pro’s Closet recently moved into a new warehouse and headquarters space in Boulder. The expanded space handles consignment sales from consumers and the trade-in program. TPC also sells overstock inventory from vendors and retailers. Most of the bikes that are traded in are parted out, and a large percentage of TPC’s sales are overseas, so shops that take in trade-ins are unlikely to ever see the bike again in their market.