Dan Dacko’s bike shop has been open for just less than two months but he’s already learning a valuable retail lesson that he hopes to ultimately master.
His Slow Roll Cycles, 4118 Monona Dr., is a Giant bike retailer, offers service and repairs, promotes biking and is located in a part of the city that is void of bike shops. It’s already drawing customers from not only the East Side but also Monona, Cottage Grove and McFarland, three communities without bike shops.
But for Dacko, one of his biggest challenges as a new retailer is trying to find the right balance between work and family. It’s something that has done in many retailers before him and is a constant struggle for existing small businesses, whether they are a retailer, service oriented or a manufacturer. Throw in record low unemployment, and the issue is even more compounded.
“I’ve resigned myself to the fact that every day for the next year and a half, maybe two, I’ll work a lot,” Dacko said. “I didn’t have any illusions that I would have a ton of employees and we wouldn’t have to worry about it. I went into it full on and really smart people who had done it before had cautioned me.”
Dacko knows that at least for the first two years he’s going to be at the shop more than he is at home, which is why he wants to bring in a couch and create a lounge. Be he also realizes that his day-to-day life, while dictated by the hours of his business, needs to be somewhat sane. He has only two employees and is thinking about adding a third.
Dacko owns the shop in the Lake Edge Shopping Center with his wife, Stacy. The couple have two children, ages 12 and 14. Stacy continues to work at the East YMCA while Dan, who is vice president of Capital Off Road Pathfinders, a mountain biking advocacy group, has been in the bike industry for more than 20 years. He began by working at bike shops while at UW-River Falls and then came to Madison in 1999 to work at Planet Bike. He went to Trek in Waterloo in 2006 and then in 2012 took a job with Envelo of Madison as the marketing manager of North America for SR Suntour, a company that makes bike suspension systems.
But while his more recent jobs offered flexibility in terms of schedule and didn’t include the worry about the daily minutiae of owning a business, he knows this is a major lifestyle change.
“I’ve already started to learn the balance,” Dacko said. “Like this morning, I went for a (bike) ride and opened up right at 10 a.m. It’s balance. I told my wife we need to take care of the family and make sure that other pieces (in our lives) are good so we’re not stressing about them.”
About 80 percent of the bikes on the 3,600-square-foot retail floor are from Giant and can range in price from around $500 to more than $2,000. The shop, in space that had been home to the Madison Craft & Gift Shops, focuses on mountain bikes and carries a wide range of accessories and a few electric bikes, as well. The shop is also filled with large photos of bikers riding in rural and urban areas, including on State Street. The shop also promotes Mad City Dirt, an off-road biking organization founded in 1995.
“I’m learning so much about myself,” Dacko said. “The best part about this process is just my sheer perception change of retail, the community and retail as a whole. There’s so much that goes into this.”