The Worst Bike Shop Job Ever?

Microsoft opened a “splashy dining-shopping destination called The Commons” on their latest campus:

14 restaurants, shops, soccer field, even a pub is the gooey filling in the emerging West Campus, a 1.4 million-square-foot town square of four office buildings that will house the company’s Entertainment and Devices division, which developed video-game player Xbox and music-player Zune.

The Commons includes a bike shop and I thought, “imagine that – an over-achieving, Type-A, X-Box developer needs a tube and needs it right freakin’ now for the lunch-time hammerfest. He’s got a Zune in his jersey pocket, with a playlist ready to rock, and needs a fix.

Good thing geeks are getting out on bikes, but geez is that the worst bike shop job evar? It would have to be stand around 80% of the time – facing shelfs, looking busy – until someone needs a pump.

On the other hand, maybe they’ve got some MS bro-deals!

ms_employee_bike_shop.jpg

Photo: AP

Readers?



16 Comments

sounds like how my cousin, an SF fireman, explained his job. I think that free time could be spent watching bike races online, chatting with other bike people to increase bike knowledge and community, cleaning and fixing your own bikes, or maybe just cleaning the shop with a toothbrush.

Like you, i’m wondering about the bro deals. I wonder how subsidized the bike shop is as compared to the other services MS offers on campus, like food, or their totally free health care?

Of course that’s only if you’re a Microsoft FTE which a huge number of people working at MS are not. Ridiculous how many a- and v- people Microsoft employs. For that matter ridiculous how many FTEs they have! To paraphrase Winston Churchill: “Never before have so many worked so hard to produce so little!”

Also wonder if they’ll have to have a team meeting in order to decide to visit the shop and another meeting to decide what to buy. ;)

When the developers want a tube, do they get told that it only comes as a bundled package with tire levers, patch kit, and an annoying animated cursor?  Or maybe maybe the tube has an amazing new suit of features but is incredibly labor intensive to install and operates slower on your current bike if it’s compatible at all?

When did a bike blog turn into some sort of Microsoft bashing site? I thought you guys were all about getting people out on bikes, staying fit, and helping the environment. Instead, today Bike Hugger is about making fun of engineers doing a respectable job at a legitimate company? I don’t like (or dislike) Microsoft but I am also not reading articles looking for the word “bike” and trying to spin it so I can complain about a broad group of people I inexplicably have a chip on my shoulder for. I hope my RSS feed returns to its regularly scheduled program soon.

I’m sure I would be fired within days. They (microsoft) would probably not look to kindly at me twittering away on my iphone in what has to be unending boredom.

That comment was snappy enough to deserve its own blog. The *what’s wrong with other blogs I read blog* maybe? For some context, we’ll visit the shop shortly and have a “bike-to-work” feature planned profiling companies such as MS where lots of cyclists ride and race.

Also, tell me what other company has a campus with a shopping mall with a bike shop in it? If that was IBM or any corp, the post would follow the same story: big corp has a mall with a bike shop—wow—and then the angle of “imagine working in that shop.”  Or what is that shop like?

Where’s the complaint about the people? That was an MS stereotype. Not a complaint. We could replace MS with Boeing (pretending they had a Mall with a Bike Shop)—oh they’d find a place to sleep off the time. Or say Amazon—they’d just ride around in the shop on Segways, that’s until their site broke down and they had to scramble off to fix it.

Let’s all step back here. I’m getting what Byron was saying, a bike store in a corporate campus has to have either some really big lulls or some really rushed people coming in. It’s gotta be more boring and stressful at the same time than your standard bike store. Which is very boring sometimes and very stressful others.

 

Don’t know what it would be like to work at the shop, but couldn’t this also be a way to encourage bike commuting?  And enlightened corporate policy if that’s what they were trying to encourage?
I try to wrench my own bike as much as possible because I really like to do it, but there are moments where—if I had a bike shop at work—I would leave it there and pick it up in the evening all tuned up.  That would be pretty cool.  It might even convince people to ride that might not otherwise because the maintenance is too much PITA.
But somehow I’m imagining that a Microsoft corporate campus is not anywhere near residential neighborhoods that can be ridden to?

I’m thinking maybe they have a commuter service: drop your bike off, shower, we’ll look it over.  Either MSFT subsidized and/or as a per-month service (for 50 bucks a month we’ll do XYZ).  That would probably keep a mechanic or two busy, but then again, I’ve never seen the mothership or the number bike to work folks there.

I am one of the owners of the “Bike Shop” in question so I thought I would add to the conversation to clarify some of the details.  Our shop name is Eastside Ski and Sport and we are more than just a repair shop or a bike store as we also are a ski and snowboard retail, rental, and repair shop as well.  Our new Redmond location currently provides retail and service and we are considering rentals.

As for our client base I will say that Microsoft as well as any other corporation for that matter has the same mix of people that you run into anywhere else in the world.  The same types and kinds of people you will find in any bike store.  The vast majority of people we serve are great customers who remind us why we went into this business to begin with which was to bring our passion for cycling, skiing, and the outdoors to others.  These are the same type of great customers that have made your work experience in a bike shop a positive one.

Every bike shop has positive and negative aspects of the business that change based on the shop and ours is no different.  However, our new store at the commons is completely counter to the perspective that Mr. Byron sets forth.  We have been greeted daily with customers that are beyond excited to have a ski and bike shop on campus.  I have received more hugs at my store in Redmond in the past week than in any other location that I have been in previously.  On our opening day I had a customer come into the store actually bouncing because she was so excited wanting to know if we did snowboard tunes.  When I told her that we did she was so happy she immediately gave me a huge hug and told me that she was so happy as she has been trying to get her board tuned for two years but just could not find the time to get that done with her schedule.  That is the type of customer we have… happy, excited, appreciative, and positive ones.

As for the job in the store itself it is pretty damn cool.  How I know this is I am the one working here from sun up to sun down.  We are two guys that left the corporate world to follow a dream and I am thrilled every day that I get to work in either one of my stores to help provide products that make a positive difference in people’s lives.  I frequently hear stories from my customers how they lost 100, 200, even 300 pounds and how the products I sell have changed their lives for the better.  So this is not a big corporate bike store with employees that are bored out of their minds.  I love every minute of every day that I am not sitting behind a desk or living out of a bag sitting in some airport waiting for yet another delayed flight.

Yes our Redmond location has some interesting and unique traffic flows but we all wear a lot of shoes here and there is not any down time where you have to “look busy” because we are busy.  Properly servicing the customer takes time, effort and attention to detail and we are constantly moving to insure we meet our goals of excellent service.  This location also offers us many amenities you don’t find in a typical bike shop which include a vast array of fantastic restaurants at our finger tips (try Chandy’s for amazing soups and sandwiches, Typoon for incredible Thai, and my long time Eastside haunt Acapulco Fresh), a spa/salon, Pike Place, a sports bar and an array of other great places I have not had a chance to try.  This is also the first time I have had locker rooms, showers, and sports fields which support my active and commuting lifestyle.

To be clear we are a company that competed with other shops in teh area and won the opportunity to place our second store on this campus.  Our services in Redmond are available to anyone with a Microsoft badge including vendors, their families and friends.  So the commons project is a benefit to vendors as well as employees.  We are not subsidized and we are not offering any special deals or pricing that we don’t offer in our other store with one exception.  That exception is that we put on monthly clinics or seminars here to help educate our consumers which makes them better consumers and which helps grow the sports we love which benefits us all by having happier and healthier people in the community.  This is really not an extra service as we tend to do this one-on-one in our Woodinville store.  This Commons has so many more customers a group setting is a better use of our resources.  Our value proposition is that we bring convenience, education and a high level of service to the local community.  We also have the philosophy that we want to have fun at work and we compensate our employees well to keep and retain quality talent which allows us to offer a higher level of service which is our primary product.  At the end of the day that is exactly what Microsoft is doing with the Commons project they are offering services that help attract and retain quality employees and which increase employee’s quality of life.

One of our other primary drivers we have is to help grow and to support commuting by bike.  Microsoft has many other programs and subsidies to encourage commuting by bike and having our store//shop on campus is one yet one more.  Is there anyone that would dispute that encouraging commuting by bike is a huge benefit to the community, the environment, and to the health and wellness of the commuter?  Microsoft is doing the right thing here I am consistently amazed and the level of bashing that they endure.  For instance many if not all of these building are LEED certified which if you are not familiar with makes these locations many times more environmentally friendly.  Also the level at which Microsoft goes to separate their waste and to recycle I have never seen before and I have worked at some very large companies in my day.  Maybe we could cut Microsoft a bit of slack here as they are doing some great things for their employees, vendors, the community, and the environment.  Simply employing hundreds of thousands of people worldwide in today’s economy which creates many times that number of jobs in the community should be enough for people to offer a nod of thanks to Microsoft.

Respectfully,
Greg Laycock
Eastside Ski and Sport

@Greg,

Thanks for the comment! Excellent response and appreciate your perspective. Humor aside, MS and other companies in the Seattle area do much to promote cycling. We can’t argue with that. Also, considering that Campus has the [worlds-largest parking lot](http://bikehugger.com/2007/06/microsofts-monster-garage.html), we joked earlier that they should have an Alley Cat or crit in it! Balance all those cars, with promoting active lifestyle in your shop is good stuff. Really. As I said above, we’re working now on a feature.

DL,

Anything I can do to help with your feature, or to promote cycling please let me know.  I am sure I will be in the principals office on rainy days for riding or leading rides in the garage.  It should be fun.

Thanks,
Greg Laycock
Eastside Ski and Sport
425-885-3000

I think the shop sounds terrific. Sounds like there’s a lot of hugging & bouncing going on though, and I’m not sure I’m all that comfortable with it.

I work at Microsoft and just tried the Commons area for the first time and checked out the bike store too. I was pleased to see many cool framed photos featuring bikes when I was upstairs in one of the eating areas. But I was very disappointed to not find ANY places to park and lock my bike. Not that I was very concerned that a fellow Microsoft employee would ride off with my bike but ... seemed odd.

Right. When we visited the Nike campus they had bike racks everywhere and [bikes were locked](http://www.flickr.com/photos/huggerindustries/2568933127/). Wouldn’t suspect your fellow employee, but also I wouldn’t want to leave my bike unlocked either.

Old thread, but two years later Eastside Ski and Bike @ the Commons is still going strong! And there are now plenty of bike racks outside :-)

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