Tanka Spotlight: Bangtail Bikes & Ski

May 04, 2011

Tanka Spotlight: Bangtail Bikes & Ski

Since our launch in October 2007 we have been privileged to work with outstanding retail partners. These folks are so passionate about their businesses and their customers we decided we needed to share their unique stories. If you'd like to be featured, or if you'd like to nominate a Tanka retailer for a story, please contact Jenice Johnson at jenicejohnson@tankabar.com.

RETAILER: Bangtail Bikes & Ski

LOCATION: 137 E. Main St., Bozeman, MT, 59715

Bangtail Bikes & Ski is one of seven bike and ski shops in Bozeman, MT, but what sets them apart isn't just the spinning palomino stallion on top of their storefront.

"We focus on all cycling or cross country skiing. We tend to be obsessed with those two sports," manager Rob Funderburk said. "You won't find sleeping bags, snowboards or roller blades."

Bangtail has been around downtown Bozeman since bike enthusiast Chris Saboda and his partner opened the first store in the 1970s, which was under 1,000 square feet. Now in its third location at the Masons' Gallatin Lodge No. 6 on Main Street, Bangtail has more than 6,000 square feet to roam -- along with that horse.

Nicknamed "Old Yellar," the yellow-and-white fiberglass horse has been a beloved marker in downtown Bozeman for more than 40 years. It was previously atop long-time retail tenant Country West Western Wear before Bangtail moved in, and Old Yeller had been through the ringer with everything from potential code violations to pranksters. Bangtail sales associate Mason Griffin said that when the horse had to come down for repairs, which lasted six months, the shop got some slightly angry calls but assured everyone Old Yellar was coming back soon. The statue is officially the property of the Masons.

Along with the colorful history of their current location, where they've been since June 2009, Bangtail boasts a strong focus on what they are "obsessed" about and proud to do it in Bozeman.

"We live in a great town. During Nordic ski season, we have over 100 days of skiing up in the mountains," Funderburk said. "I call this a 'fun hog' town. People come here to have fun and the recreational opportunities are great."

He said everyone is now anxious for the snow to clear so mountain biking can begin, which is also a popular tourist activity in Bozeman. Tanka Bars are popular with long distance cyclists who need endurance for their ride, Funderburk said.

Talking shop

Bangtail has its share of well-known customers such as journalist Tom Brokaw and philanthropist and businessman Bill Gates even outfitted his home with mountain bikes from the shop. Olympic-class athletes call Bozeman home because of the Nordic ski programs available.

There is always an opportunity to learn more about being a bike and ski equipment owner as Bangtail offers various clinics year-round, such as bike repair and race-level waxing.

Most importantly, Funderburk said Bangtail takes care of its customers and makes sure to give one-on-one attention to them.

"Customer service is where everything begins and ends," he said. "If you can't provide that, anything else you do can't be successful. We identify a customer's needs then we respond to them."

He said it is also important that everyone on staff makes the biking and skiing lifestyle a priority.

"You can't enjoy what you do here if you can't enjoy it yourself," he said.

Additionally, it helps to know firsthand about the equipment and services you are selling. Funderburk said there is a collective experience level of over 200 years among everyone on staff. Some of the employees come from working in Nordic ski shops and bike shops. The head mechanic has been in his career for over 40 years.

"I'm one of the younger guys of the senior staff and I've been doing it since 1988," Funderburk said. "We have a lot of experience and customers appreciate that. Plus, we have a mature crew. Most of our full-time crew has been working here at least 10 years. We have very low turnover."

Bangtail offers a wide variety of name brand bicycles from manufacturers, such as Specialized and Trek, along with a complete line of cross-country, back-country and telemark skis from Karhu, Madshus and Rossignal.

The above video was shot by the crew at Sypes Canyon, north of Bozeman. A GoPro HD Motorsports HERO Camera is attached to his bike.

MORE INFO: bangtailbikes.com and Bangtail's blogspot


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