Doug & Rick of Colonel’s Bikes are some of the elder statesmen of fiercely independent Fort Worth small businesses. Since 1994, the team at Colonel’s has been supplying bike enthusiasts of all kinds with the equipment, accessories, and expertise they need to ride around Fort Worth on two wheels. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a harder working duo of local entrepreneurs than Doug Coyle and Rick Faulkner.
We recently took a trip over to Colonel’s West 7th shop to chat with Rick about how they’ve thoughtfully grown their brand over the years, and how the landscape of Fort Worth has changed since the early 90s.
LM: Off the top, give us the elevator pitch on Colonel’s. What are you all about?
RF: We’re basically a home-grown, locally-owned shop. We started small with very low overhead about 20 years ago and have built it since then. There have been changes and tweaks over the years, changing focus as the marketplace has changed.
We have one location, we’ve always had one location, and we stress being a quality business over a volume business. We show up every day to do something we love doing while enjoying a high quality of life outside of work.
LM: Being a specialty shop, most people would assume that you serve equally specialized clients. But how would you describe your customers?
RF: They’re all over the map. I mean, we literally build cutting-edge bikes for the upper-level athlete or enthusiast right alongside balanced bicycles we sell to kids. We help parents find their child’s first bike, and we also support professional racers and world tourists. We’ve done a little bit of everything, which can be a challenge.
LM: That brings me right to the next question, actually. When you see most home-grown small businesses, they tend to be laser-focused on one thing. What made you guys passionate about serving a broad range of clientele?
RF: We didn’t start that way, but as we saw the need it was just logical to get broad. We saw that the market was hungry for specialized goods and services alongside some professional expertise, even if they are just casual riders. We just never wanted to turn business away. I will say, it’s ebbed and flowed over the years, so we regularly take self-inventory and shift focus if we think it’s appropriate. That’s part of why we want to stay an agile size.
LM: Thinking back to ‘94, how did you guys get rolling?
RF: Basically in 1994 Doug and I were employed at different bicycle shops and knew each other from being racers, and just “bike people.” He got his business license and named the company after one of his nicknames while still working at the other shop. I was out in Northern California and then came back to get this started.
It wasn’t until 1996 that we were able to run Colonel’s full time. Prior to that, we just focused on mobile repair and stuff like that. Our first official storefront opened in 1998, then around 2000 we officially incorporated. We’ve been on West 7th since around 2012.
LM: So you said Colonel’s is named after a nickname that Doug had in the early 90s. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
RF: Well it began when we were in college and Doug would talk about how he had this dog as a kid named Colonel. After a while, people just started calling him that. His last name is Coyle so it kind of plays on that a little bit. So when he went to get his business license, it was the first thing that came to mind, so it just stuck.
LM: So you and Doug both talk about how you’ve been a part of bike culture for your entire life. What about it keeps you hooked?
RF: As a kid, you get into biking for the outdoor experience, and if you stick with it you end up racing and things like that. Everybody is different, but for me, I like being outside and getting away from stuff. I like to do things under my own power.
LM: Being around Fort Worth since 1994, a lot has changed since then. How have you seen the city grow around you?
RF: Just growth. Population growth, business growth, and Fort Worth has gone through some growing pains. We’ve also seen changes in bicycle infrastructure and a growth in the number of cyclists around town. It’s nothing but change, and it’ll continue.
There is always going to be growth in competition, but more than that we’re looking at changes in how people are shopping and we try to stay ahead of it. We always want to make internal adjustments to keep people coming back.
LM: Let’s turn the clock back a little bit. How’d you first cross paths with Matt and start your relationship with Legacy Merch?
RF: Well we knew Matt going back to when he worked at another bicycle shop before Legacy really got going. Eventually he started riding for our shop team, and when he started Legacy Merch, we jumped on board very quickly.
LM: What kind of projects has Legacy executed for you over the years?
RF: Oh man, just about everything. I think Matt and his team have helped create almost every soft good we’ve ever had. Beyond that, they’ve been valuable sources of information, opening our eyes to potential new merchandise paths we haven’t gone down. They always answer our questions and guide us.
For everything from shirts, patches, hats, everything; they’ve been our go-to guys.
LM: What has kept you coming back?
RF: They’re honest. If there is ever a problem, and there rarely is, they own up to it and fix it. If they say they’ll deliver, they’ll deliver. Their quality is excellent. And more than anything else, we fully trust that they’re looking out for our best interest. I don’t see ourselves ever going somewhere else.
Whether you’re passionate about cutting-edge racing bicycles or you’re just looking for a reliable ride for you and your family, take a trip to Colonel’s Bicycles in Fort Worth. You’ll leave knowing you’ve been taken care of by true bike aficionados who genuinely care about serving their customers.