Bobby MagillPost Independent Staff

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January 26, 2006
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End of the ride for BSR Sports

Change or die. That's the story of bicycle and snowboard shop BSR Sports, which could navigate the rough waters of a bad economy and an onslaught of big box stores for only so long. After 22 years selling bikes, snowboards, surfboards and other outdoor gear for 22 years, the little bike shop that started behind a shoe store on Grand Avenue in 1984 finally succumbed to insurmountable economic forces and permanently closed Jan. 2. With a lone sparkling red surfboard hanging above the staircase where bikes only a month ago dangled from the rafters, Steve "Scratch" Katers and his partner Debbie "Mrs. Scratch" Katers sat in the empty BSR building Thursday reflecting on three decades of bike repair and sheer determination. Yes, three decades, because Scratch ran a bike shop in Glenwood from 1975 to 1983, closed it and reopened it a year later behind Glenwood Shoe Service. "I got here in February 22 years ago," said Debbie. "I met him at Sunlight and we've been dating ever since." The two went into business together and moved BSR Sports to 210 Seventh Street in 1988, eventually taking over the building next door. "I like the fact that I've seen 30 graduating classes at Glenwood High School, and they've all been through here," Scratch said. "Now they're 40 and they're buying for their kids. I just got to the point where I was selling to their kids' kids."After years of being simply the local bike and board shop, Scratch expanded the store's selection to include skateboards and activewear. But that was in more prosperous times, before Sept. 11 and before the big chain activewear stores like Zumiez and PacSun opened in Glenwood Mall. Construction next door at 701 Grand Ave. added insult to injury several years ago, Scratch said. The building was under construction for two years, with construction traffic often blocking access to BSR Sports and making business difficult, he said. "We downsized our store," Debbie said, adding that things took another dramatic turn at the same time. "Everything changed after 9/11," she said. "We kept getting hit by (forest) fires, no snow." And a diving economy. Change or die, Debbie said. "And we're not about to die. We had to just roll with bikes and snowboards. We sold half the building." Now that west half is home to Mancinelli's Pizza. The business plan changed drastically. The couple decided to go back to the old days when BSR was just about the basics. But that wasn't quite good enough. Business was peppered with competition from unexpected places - an expanded Gart Sports at Glenwood Meadows, the opening of winter sports superstore Mountain Sports Outlet last year, the popularity of shopping online, eBay and the economy, Scratch said. When two massive sporting goods chains open nearby, "everybody goes to the new kid on the block," Debbie said. "The impact of that is why we had to close."Partly it was a matter of geography. BSR was nearly just down the street from both Mountain Sports Outlet and the new Gart Sports. But if BSR had been in Carbondale or El Jebel, it's likely it would still be open today, she said. The post-Sept. 11 reality is hard on small stores that emphasize service over variety, Scratch said. "They want selection," he said. "They don't want to come into a small store and see a half dozen boards. They want to see every model Burton makes."Again, change or die. "Our plan was to give up winter and just do bikes," she said. But because business relied so much on the Christmas sales swiped away by the bigger stores, there wasn't enough business to sustain BSR through the coming months. "Because December was so devastating, we can't afford to keep open," Debbie said. So, on Jan. 2, the couple pulled the plug. The store was empty by the end of the day. The couple says they're not bitter about the advent of new developments like Glenwood Meadows, which, Debbie said, is good for Glenwood Springs. What's more, she said, downtown Glenwood is thriving and will likely continue to do so. But, she said, her only regret is that she and Scratch were unable to thank their customers for their decades of business with BSR. "People will miss our bike repair," Scratch said. "We were good. But it's not enough to pay the bills."And that means Scratch and Mrs. Scratch could be headed for warmer climes in Florida or elsewhere so they can continue BSR Sports' Mexico surfing vacation business. Debbie has arranged surfing vacations in Sayulita, Mexico, for some time now. And from now on, that means part of BSR Sports' Web site will remain online, only BSR will now mean "Beach, Surf and Relax." After all, Debbie said, it's never too late to begin anew. "Challenges keep you young," she said. "Change or die."Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext.

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The Post Independent Updated Jan 27, 2006 02:02AM Published Jan 26, 2006 12:00AM Copyright 2006 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.