A long time ago I read some article in some bike mag that listed all the things a bike shop should have to be worthy of the name. I'm talking enthusiasts' bikeshop here not some corporate chain store with graphs for soul and budgets for goal, or a store with a franchise but a shop run by a guy or guys for the LOVE/ADDICTION of BIKES.
I can remember a few factors/ingredients/components that I aspired to in my shop, but still there must be other things that are must-haves when you make a bikeshop 'the shop.'
Things I can remember were:
*A pet that hung around getting dusty, smelt of embrocation, and ate powerbar scraps - ideally an old dog; I had a goldfish.
*Posters on posters on posters. Peeling them back would be like an archaeological dig. Lance on top, underneath Pantani and Museeuw, then Hinault, Fignon and Lemond. Hard up against the plaster would be Coppi and Anquetil. I had a huge Tomac on his drop-bar Yeti alogside those great Campag Indurains and Z Lemonds. Not to mention dozens of A4's from the back of Cycling Weeklies from the mid- and late-eighties.
*A box of stickers of bike brands long since gone bust.
*A neverending section of staunch, gob-smacked, non-working clientele who always made Saturday mornings look very busy; aka young kids and some not-so-young who were dreamers. Never bought anything, but boy, were their bikes clean!
*AN employee who was an old pro happy to continuously impart stories of his almost-race-winning breakaway in the '77 5th Stage of the Tour of Upper Volta. Also, you never saw what he did but he was always there.
*It had to be in a shifty part of town
*A Little Shrine to Italy. In other words a road bike (always 58cm), preferably with an Italian name of more than eight syllables, under lights and on a pedestal, and definitely behind glass, decked out with the latest Campag Record. But not just any Record, but some innocuous mutation available only to Mafia Dons, or the Pope, and therefore so expensive the bike would never ever sell at full retail. The closest I got was a TVT Concorde with the Black Record from '88.
*A drawer out the back (every cool bike shop has an 'out the back,' a place the public only enter once initiated into the mystical realms of the cool bike shop) where the owner can pull out that stuff which they never sold more than one item of, and kids could gape at open-jawed on rainy Friday afternoons. Things I had, amongst others, were Powerstraps, biopace chainrings, the first LOOK MTB shoes, those Suntour STI things that clamped on behind the brake-lever, 8spd Dura-ace downtube shifters, black ROCK SHOX forks, Sante deraillieurs and hubsets, and flouro Gel Super-Turbo saddles. I also seem to remember boxes of cheap Stronlight cranks but i'm buggered if I know why.
An espresso machine. The dirtier and smellier the better. Sorry, but I had some plastic-covered wannabe. From Japan!?! Still smelt great though.
A messy counter with brochures of stock long obsolete; dirty coffee mugs; boxes of powerbars - empty; stands of batteries - flat; that display of some performance-enhancing pill that only gave you wind; dust; a wide and varied selection of 5 mil Allen bolts lost in the gaps; a botched attempt at modern art, comprising two presta valve-caps, a Dura-ace STI innard, and a bald, semi-naked, and mutilated Barbie doll; between 2-5 frame pumps left behind by the Sunday bunch; some dog-eared French cycling magazines with Fignon's glasses traced with a biro by a bored member of the Sunday bunch; washers, spring and countersunk; and somewhere under it all, a till - empty. About four sq. inches were left for the shop guy to assemble the items for any given sale. This was reduced by 50% at Christmas to make room for Santa-on-a-bike.
What else can others come up with? What must a great bike shop have that makes you think, 'Bugger it, they may be expensive, but I just like going there.'