- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2001

David Feigal has a fairly relaxed job most of the time.
The 17-year-old high school senior never knows if his job as a sales representative at Performance Bicycle Shop in Gaithersburg, Md. will be slow or busy, but he likes it either way.
"Sometimes the phones ring off the hook," David says. "Lots of people call asking about certain bikes, what we have in stock and what I'd recommend."
David, who lives 10 minutes from the shop, is supposed to be at work by 8 a.m. to set up store displays. On Wednesday, he was half an hour late.
No big deal. Most of the employees at Performance are his friends.
David's first task in the morning is to make sure the store, a large room filled with bikes and accessories, looks nice in time for its 10 a.m. opening.
He sets up a bike display in front of the store and makes sure all the merchandise is tagged with a price. He must pay special attention to the children's bikes because there is a sale coming up this weekend. Several of the bikes, with names like Lil' Stardust and Animator, are missing price tags.
David brings out boxes of tags from the back of the store, while R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It" plays over the speakers. The staff likes to listen to 99.1 and 101.1 FM, he says.
Some of his co-workers listen to classical, but never soft rock, he says, laughing.
Customers trickle in and wordlessly wander the store. Free of interruptions, save one man looking for a dressing room, David goes about hanging tags on bikes.
Meantime, he tells his co-workers about how he, like a lot of people, watched the Fourth of July fireworks in the pouring rain.
He's interrupted by a customer at the register who wants two packages of banana energy bars and a magazine. The man asks if the shop carries a certain kind of racing tire listed in the Performance catalog.
Unfortunately, the shop does not carry everything in the magazine. The man becomes irritated.
"You have them in your catalog," the man says tersely. "You don't know what that is?"
David says no, rings up the man's purchases and watches as he leaves, shaking his head.
"The hardest thing about this job is dealing with people like that," David says. "There are 3,000 things in that catalog. I haven't memorized it yet. If we don't have something in the store, I probably don't know about it."
Still, David doesn't get bothered too much. He grabs a Barq's root beer and sits down behind the counter. He and his friends start talking about bikes. All of the Performance employees like to ride, often together, David says.
"Biking is sort of a job requirement," David says. "Only one or two people here do road riding. Everyone here is pretty much a mountain biker."
Another perk of the job, says David, are the "hookups," such as discounted cycling gear.
The banter turns to previous summer jobs. David last summer was a host in a "disgusting" restaurant. He's a newcomer here, with only three months under his belt, while his two co-workers have worked at Performance for years. Here their starting pay is about $7 a hour, one of them says.
The boys watch curiously as a bus pulls up and 15 elementary and middle school-age youngsters get out. It must be a camp, the friends speculate. The kids drift into the store and start looking around.
"It's a field trip," says the one adult who comes in with them.
After about 15 minutes, the youngsters become intrigued by a box of discontinued caffeinated "candy bars" going for 10 cents each. They start begging their chaperone to lend them money. He insists they need to leave.
Usually bikes sell the most, David says.
He says that on a semi-busy day he sees between five and 10 bicycles leave the store. On a busy day, he will see over 20 leave.
"Girls' bikes aren't hard to sell," David says.
When little girls point, daddies buy, he says.
His point is illustrated when a man comes in with his daughter, who looks about 12. They are in search of a bicycle for her. David takes them over to the children's and teens' bicycle racks. The daughter's eyes shift instantly to a red Schwinn bicycle. She tries it, but it is too big for her. The father asks if there's a smaller version.
David spots another child's Schwinn bike on a high rack. He gets a ladder and brings it down. It's blue, but the girl does not seem to care.
David shows her the best way to mount the bike by doing so himself. Then he lets them take it outside for a test drive. She loves it, decides to buy it, and David helps her pick out a matching blue helmet.
This is just a fun summer job for David, who hopes to study science at college. He has his eye on Virginia Tech, where there are plenty of hills and mountains for biking.


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