Interview by B Vivit
Well-spoken and a force to be reckoned with, were the first impressions of Kristie Holt when she introduced herself in the classroom. It was no surprise to us when Bicycle Retailer asked her to be a part of the State of Retail panel for 2018. While at the QBP Bike Mechanic Scholarship during the class in October of 2018, Holt stayed late at every opportunity and asked great questions. Holt has always impressed me as a quiet opportunist, not one to necessarily toot her own horn, but she knows; she knows a good opportunity when she sees one, and she is apt to make the most out of what she's given. I've been following the Local Hub Bicycle Company ever since..
Update: After 4 years of operation, Local Hub Bicycle Compary sadly closed its doors in December of 2019.
BV: What is your name? Where are you from? What pronouns do you prefer?
KH: Kristie Holt, Dallas, Tx , She/Her
BV: You are the owner of a shop. Can you tell us in a few words, a little about your shop and the experience of being a shop owner?
KH: Local Hub Bicycle Company opened in 2015 in the Deep Ellum neighborhood in Dallas. We are a full-service bike shop offering new bike sales, service, and rentals. We focus on the rider that’s riding for transportation, adventure, and dirt. We offer industry certified mechanics, a fleet of well- maintained bikes that are fun to ride, and quality products. Being a shop owner has been one of the toughest and most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. It’s allowed me to have the power to change the culture of a city and get more people on bikes! I also have to deal with all the shitty things of running a small business like stressing out over financials, and not having time to ride my bike because I work 6 days a week. There’s a balance to all of it and I have to keep the mission in perspective to stay focused.
"Knowing I’m making a positive impact on someone’s life
gets me out of bed in the morning."
BV: When did you attend the United Bicycle Institute during the QBP Scholarship? And how many years did you apply before receiving the scholarship?
KH: I applied 3 times and finally got accepted to the Fall 2018 class. I almost didn’t apply the 3rd time because I got really discouraged after not getting the scholarship the 2nd time I applied. After doing some soul searching, I realized I needed to do some work in my community before applying again. I made a list of ways I could do better to be a better applicant and started working on them a year before I applied again.
BV: What is the most helpful tip or trick that you learned during your time at UBI?
KH: It’s okay to fail. I went into the program with the attitude that it’s a learning experience and I don’t have to be the best. There were so many nights I spent after hours to finish my work because mechanics doesn’t come natural to me. While it was frustrating because I would have much rather been hanging out with my classmates, I knew it was all part of the learning experience.
"It’s okay to fail...I knew it was all part of the learning experience."
BV: What impacted you most about your experience with your classmates?
KH: Being surrounded by amazing people doing extraordinary things to make the bike industry a better place was a surreal experience. I would have never had the opportunity to meet them and hear their stories if it wasn’t for the scholarship. That includes not only my classmates, but everyone at UBI, QBP, and the other sponsors of the program. They inspire me everyday to push forward and do things outside of my comfort zone. I have a little tattoo of a vernier caliper on my arm that I got with several of my classmates that reminds me that I’m capable of more than I think I am. I carry that experience with me everywhere I go.
"Being surrounded by amazing people doing extraordinary things to
make the bike industry a better place was a surreal experience...
They inspire me everyday to push forward and do things outside of
my comfort zone... I carry that experience with me everywhere I go."
BV: For those interested in Kristie's point of view, you've been on the board of retailers for BRAIN for this past year, can you tell us about that experience?
KH: The State of Retail Panel has given me a platform to share my experiences and opinions about the bike industry. I think I offer something unique to the panel and the bike industry as a female bike shop owner in Texas. However, there needs to be more diversity on the panel that better represents the bike community. Out of 10 panelists only 2 were women! I’m not sure if it’s the editor's choices or the type of applicants. It might seem scary that your peers are reading your opinions and have their own opinions about your opinions, but there isn’t a comment section. I love when my friends send me messages that they saw me in Bicycle Retailer. It means that I’m making a difference.
BV: Since the scholarship even, you've already weathered a few intense community changes; ebikes, bike share, new retailers near you, etc. Can you tell us a little about what makes your shop is so incredibly resilient?
KH: I don’t know if the shop is resilient. It’s a tough industry and we’ve managed to get through some hard years by being creative and having a loyal core customer base. I still have PTSD from seeing over 200 bike share bikes in front of my store everyday for months in 2017 and not being able to do anything about it. I opened Local Hub because I wanted to get more people on bikes. My naivete was driven by passion and energy. I learned a hard lesson that just because you are passionate about something doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful. I think about business differently after going through the professional mechanic program at UBI and the Goldman Sachs 10k Small Businesses entrepreneurship program. My brain is always working on the next idea to get people in the door to make the business profitable. No matter what happens in the future with the shop, I’m really proud that we made a permanent positive impact on the cycling culture on Dallas.
"I learned a hard lesson that just because you are passionate about something
doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful. I think about business differently after
going through the professional mechanic program at UBI and
the Goldman Sachs 10k Small Businesses entrepreneurship program."
BV: You also started an incredible partnership with Lisa Uranga of Dirt Side Sisters, can you give us a little insight on how this business relationship started and evolved?
KH: Even though we live in the same area and both ride bikes, Lisa and I hadn’t met before receiving the scholarship. Lisa is an extraordinary human. Her and her team of volunteers work tirelessly to get more women on mountain bikes. After the bike shop where she worked closed, she was able to approach other shops for sponsorship. When she asked, I knew I wanted to say yes immediately. I just had to find the money and time. She’s such a dynamic partner because of how hard she works and her dedication to the organization and her sponsors. I’ve been able to host a bicycle maintenance clinic at the shop with over 25 women in attendance and provided on-site support for a group ride. It’s been an amazing opportunity to connect with women who normally wouldn’t have come to my shop.
BV: Any last thoughts you have?
KH: The impact of the scholarship reaches far beyond personal development. With my new found confidence and skills I started implementing changes to the business almost immediately after I got back from the program. I let go of an employee who was underperforming and took his place until I found a new mechanic. I made the business more profitable by raising the prices on services. I taught more classes. Wrote blog about recommended bicycle maintenance that has been viewed thousands of times. I don’t work on bikes as much as I did when I got back, but I’ve been able to grow the service department with the training I received at UBI.
"APPLY! If you don’t get the 1st time, keep applying.
You are the change the bike industry needs."