Aaron Thompson’s path to becoming a bicycle shop owner was as circuitous as a mountain bike trail but as certain as a Grand Tour finish line. He and his wife, Carolyn, are the eager new proprietors of the soon-to-be Bicycle Brüstop at 830 Grant Ave. in Novato, which will “strive to be more than just a traditional bike shop” when it opens this spring.
Aaron Thompson graduated from UC Davis with a degree in physics and was soon after scooped up into an internship at Intel. What started out as something akin to a summer job soon became a permanent position as a process equipment engineer specializing in photolithography. After four years, he made the jump to management and became a factory operations manager.
While climbing the corporate ladder, Thompson was also ascending hills on his mountain bike. Learning how to navigate off-road trails on his bike was a skill not so different than making “fork in the road” decisions on his career path.
Faced with a potential career obstacle of a plant closure, Thompson was presented with a few choices; either relocate to another U.S. location, to a plant in China or take a severance package. He got off the corporate path altogether and took the package. He found himself biking more and more.
An engineer at heart, Thompson delved into his passion and became certified as a bike mechanic and started building bikes for a shop in Santa Clara. He also worked the sales floor and jumped at every other opportunity to learn another aspect of the bicycle business all the while earning his MBA at San Jose State University.
Thompson expects that the culmination of his experiences (and those of his wife as an HR manager) will materialize in a “gathering place for cyclists of all stripes.” No doubt, the serious cyclist will be wooed by the Thompson’s plans for their inventory of bikes, accessories and services.
Conscious of the other bike shops in the area, Thompson is adamant about not competing in the same space. He won’t carry the beach cruisers or BMX type stock that Old Town Sports has, and neither will he compete on the entry-level brands that Classcycle carries. Thompson says the store will make a differentiating and conscious effort to welcome women to the sport of cycling as well.
Thompson is currently in talks with the “big four” bicycle manufacturers — Giant, Cannondale, Specialized and Trek — over which brands he will feature.
Patch also got a sneak peek into the space and Thompson’s 3D rendering of the store layout. Once final plans are approved by the county entities, Thompson will have a video presentation posted on the Bicycle Brüstop Facebook page.
Like kids in Powell’s candy shop watching Willy Wonka while perusing the goods on the shelves, the Thompsons plan on having two screens in the store near the food and beverage counter. One will feature Grand Tour stage races and the other will show freeride mountain biking videos.
Thompson is talking to Novato restaurants about supplying food for the cyclists stopping by for repairs, adjustments or even if they are just coming by to hang out. Brew brands (as in beer and/or coffee) are currently under consideration as well. Cycling enthusiasts will also gain peace of mind when they find customer parking inside the store for their two-wheeled chariots.
Thompson also aims to make the Bicycle Brüstop a starting and ending point for group or club rides. Creating a dual-purpose establishment will be a welcome addition for Novato cyclists as well as those passing through town.
The new bike path to be built adjacent to the SMART train rails has not escaped Thompson’s vision, either.
“I’ve thought of that ... and Fourth of July parades and the farmers market ... Novato just has a lot of opportunity to focus on building a cycling community here. It’s just a great location for cycling enthusiasts.”
The Thompsons are aiming to open no later than May.
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