Meet Your Merchant: BMX kid at heart made bicycles his life’s work
Dan Turner said his post-secondary schooling wasn’t spent buried in books deep inside a library, but toiling away in the back of a bike shop.
“That’s all I had done was work at bike shops,” said Turner, 44, owner of Bicycle Authority. “I got to learn from owners of bike shops … that really helped getting my foot in the door. That was my own form of college.”
Turner is a one man show at his North Carson City bike shop, spending six days a week inside his spacious store that is covered in bicycle paraphernalia that includes posters of the Death Ride, a 129-mile trek along the California Alps, to former rides mounted on the walls.
“A normal week, when you’re a sole proprietor and an only employee, it entails everything,” Turner said. “Cleaning the bathroom to fixing bicycles, ordering bicycles. Dealing with people is probably a huge amount of my business.”
Turner opened his bike shop in Carson City in 1997 and moved to his current store four years ago. He said he developed a passion for the sport as a child.
“I was a BMX racer as a kid, I’m still a BMX racer today,” Turner said. “That’s what keeps me going, I guess. I’m a kid BMX racer at heart.”
He said most of his customers come to the shop for his BMX bikes and repairs – given his history in the sport – but he sees plenty of casual riders looking to learn more about cycling.
His shop also features comfort cruisers, with their wide handle bars and seats, to fixed gear bikes, which are brakeless, single-speed bicycles popularized by urban bike messengers.
As for the bike business, Turner said people have been cutting back during the recession as more customers bring in older bikes for repairs instead of buying new ones.
“In today’s economy … I see more people wanting to get that old bike fixed up,” Turner said. “People bring those in and they decide to go that route, which sometimes can be a little less than buying a new bicycle.”
Turner’s Web site for his shop includes stories about his experiences as a racer. For example, after his high school graduation in 1984 he headed straight for the racing track.
Bicycle culture has changed over the decade, Turner said, as more and more people started to pick up the sport. Still, “there’s always that core group of hard-core guys.”
Turner counts himself in that group, riding his bike to work almost every day even with snow and ice on the roadways (he’s currently riding a “Pugsley,” which is a mountain bike with four-inch-thick tires to traverse the snowy terrain).
Despite the bumpy ride, Turner isn’t destined for a desk job.
“I was lucky, I always joke around that I’ve never had a real job,” Turner said. “This is the only one I’ve ever really had.”