Meet The Owner: M3 Bike

Sunday, May 31, 2020
by Stephen Krill
Andrew Galbraith, co-owner, M3 Bike
Andrew Galbraith co-owns M3 Bike with his wife Alison. M3, a specialty triathlon store located on the W&OD trail is in the heart of Vienna, near the iconic caboose. 
Tell us a little more about yourself.
I was born and raised in the UK, and Alison is from Chicago. We met at a birthday party for a colleague. Vienna became our home, and here, we had our three kids, Jack, Darby and Ella. As with so many in the area, there was a mid-career move. For the five of us, it was to California, but we couldn’t wait to get back to Vienna and the D.C. area. We lasted four years. We’ve been here 12 years now.
My background is in commercial real estate, and M3 is one of three businesses I have running. I co-own a coworking space in Alexandria with two other partners, and I do real estate consulting. My wife Alison works for Machine Aquatics, as a Team Administrator. Our ties to the area run very deep.
What would you say makes M3 Bike unique? Because of where we are on the trail and the proximity to downtown Vienna, people can park, pick up nuturition, pump up a tire, they can get something checked before they head out or when they finish. In addition to sales and good customer service, we built an indoor trainer studio, which has state of the art software. This means we can cycle 12 months a year.  
What made you want to start a store in Vienna, which has two established bike stores?
M3 is originally a tri-team, actually and that’s where the name of the store comes from. We started the team with one youth and 2 adult athletes. It was a niche in the area at the time, so from there, I built a coaching program for kids, and eventually one for adults back in 2013 and I loved it. After 23 years doing commercial real estate with the same company, I decided to take a sabbatical and fully launch the coaching business. That’s how we began to partner with Machine Aquatics. 
We also had a partnership with Bonzai sports in Falls Church, who were looking to move. With my commercial real estate knowledge, I recommended that they move here to Vienna, and then my tri-team would use it as a base to grow the business. Eventually, one thing led to another and the owner of Bonzai moved, and Alison and I took the business over. It was a natural progression from the coaching business. Connectivity to the trail was a draw. So was the parking lot, which is great for testing bikes, and then the connection to Machine Aquatics made it especially appealing. The location in Vienna is ideal, and while there are indeed two other bike stores, we all serve a niche. 
How did you choose your bike manufacturers?
The tri community is unique and we wanted to have an inclusive environment with no differentiation between skill sets, gender, etc. All would be welcome. So with that spirit in mind, we looked for ranges that did tri and road bikes. We made an incredible connection with Argon 18 bikes, who helped support us as we brought in the bikes that were needed. They’ve been a good partner. The other partner is Quintana Roo, who do tri bikes. It’s all they do and they’ve been a big part of the triathlon community for 25 years. These two makes complement each other really well. 
Being so close to the W&OD trail, what do you observe?  
What I find interesting is the amount of local traffic here, so we get lots of people who live in town. But Vienna also seems to be everyone’s turnaround point on the trail. I think of it as an urban park, with the added benefit of good local businesses that give it a nice community feel. People come out of their way for that. We get customers from Ashburn, Leesburg, Herndon and beyond. People from further away even drive here to use Vienna as a starting point. 
How have you been adjusting to meet customer needs during the pandemic?
We’ve added pickup and delivery, wearing masks and sanitizing high-touch areas. Mostly we want people to know that you can come here no matter what kind of bike you have, and we can turn things around fast. One family I helped this week, I got all six of their bikes, serviced them in 48 hours and returned them. Not many shops can do that. 
We also took a risk and brought in different kinds of bikes -- gravel and hybrid bikes, and that worked out really well. We’re going to continue offering those, and hope to bring more people in as triathletes! We’ll also continue to do the pickup and dropoff services, even once the pandemic passes. While we can’t use the indoor studio right now, we’ve been renting out the kickers for people to use at home so they can train. Adjusting in the pandemic has been  about connection, anticipating needs and responding quickly.
How else have you been connecting to the community?
We’ve lived in Vienna for more than a decade. Our three kids have grown up here. Their connections and their education are all here. They grew up playing sports, little league, and having been a part of that deepens our ties. And because of our own interests in athletics, and our ties to Alexandria and DC, we’re personally connected in so many ways. 
PPTC members are welcome to use M3’s trainer room and to host group rides. Contact Andrew and Allison Galbraith for information. 

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