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Losing More Bike Shops

Old 01-01-20, 07:47 PM
  #76  
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Originally Posted by mpetry912 View Post
great thread. Has anybody thought about the possibility of a repair "co-op" with a membership model ? Like $50 to join and $3/hour for access to repair stand and basic tools ? in addition to parts, accessories and food / coffee etc ?

of course retail space is the limiting factor - I think it's driving many brick and mortar ventures out of business along with online retail.

Mark Petry
Bainbridge Island, WA USA
That model does work, but the administration can factor into how it runs as well. In the Calgary area there was a similar co-op to what you described. However, their model tried to allow for intersectionality among LGBTQ and women's rights. They recieved a lot of backlash when they allowed women only on Wednesdays and denied entry to men on grounds of providing a safe-space for women to work and learn (ironically, there were males teaching them from time to time; if you claimed to be gay or transgender, they allowed you in, which developed a premise among the public that straight men are harmful). Word got around and people started providing negative feedback towards the co-op. That, coupled with a poor relocation from a good area resulted in the co-op shutting down.

Now, I don't know the whole story, but I am basing it off what I've been reading online and personal experience as well. I liked the shop personally. But the staff seemed uneducated when it came to running a business and used their morals to run it instead.
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Old 01-01-20, 08:07 PM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by BikeWonder View Post
That model does work, but the administration can factor into how it runs as well. In the Calgary area there was a similar co-op to what you described. However, their model tried to allow for intersectionality among LGBTQ and women's rights. They recieved a lot of backlash when they allowed women only on Wednesdays and denied entry to men on grounds of providing a safe-space for women to work and learn (ironically, there were males teaching them from time to time; if you claimed to be gay or transgender, they allowed you in, which developed a premise among the public that straight men are harmful). Word got around and people started providing negative feedback towards the co-op. That, coupled with a poor relocation from a good area resulted in the co-op shutting down.

Now, I don't know the whole story, but I am basing it off what I've been reading online and personal experience as well. I liked the shop personally. But the staff seemed uneducated when it came to running a business and used their morals to run it instead.
And so it begins, continues, whatever, the road to H**L, the greater good, etc, etc. Bikes as a tool, which they are but so many lose it in translation when they think a higher purpose can and should be served.

It really can be all about the bike and often should be.
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Old 01-01-20, 08:39 PM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by BikeWonder View Post
That model does work, but the administration can factor into how it runs as well. In the Calgary area there was a similar co-op to what you described. However, their model tried to allow for intersectionality among LGBTQ and women's rights. They recieved a lot of backlash when they allowed women only on Wednesdays and denied entry to men on grounds of providing a safe-space for women to work and learn (ironically, there were males teaching them from time to time; if you claimed to be gay or transgender, they allowed you in, which developed a premise among the public that straight men are harmful). Word got around and people started providing negative feedback towards the co-op. That, coupled with a poor relocation from a good area resulted in the co-op shutting down.

Now, I don't know the whole story, but I am basing it off what I've been reading online and personal experience as well. I liked the shop personally. But the staff seemed uneducated when it came to running a business and used their morals to run it instead.
Ahhh the counter culture cause head hard at work even north of the border... I learned about the "zine" culture and all that nonsense after moving here . Why can't people just let it be about the bike instead of trying to objectify and weaponize it?
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Old 01-01-20, 08:56 PM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by BikeWonder View Post
That model does work, but the administration can factor into how it runs as well. In the Calgary area there was a similar co-op to what you described. However, their model tried to allow for intersectionality among LGBTQ and women's rights. They recieved a lot of backlash when they allowed women only on Wednesdays and denied entry to men on grounds of providing a safe-space for women to work and learn (ironically, there were males teaching them from time to time; if you claimed to be gay or transgender, they allowed you in, which developed a premise among the public that straight men are harmful). Word got around and people started providing negative feedback towards the co-op. That, coupled with a poor relocation from a good area resulted in the co-op shutting down.

Now, I don't know the whole story, but I am basing it off what I've been reading online and personal experience as well. I liked the shop personally. But the staff seemed uneducated when it came to running a business and used their morals to run it instead.
Some of the portland co-ops have been having women only wrenching nights for as long as I can remember. I don't know of anyone who's had their feelings hurt over it, but who knows?! Maybe 2020 is the year they all go out of business.
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Old 01-01-20, 09:13 PM
  #80  
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If I understand this, greed leads to empty buildings because greedy landlords want too much. So they are getting nothing. Not sure about that concept.

Rents where I live are CHEAP, particularly compared to the west coast including the PNW. The problem here is there aren't enough customers to sustain a business even with cheap rent.

In areas with higher rents, businesses need to generate enough profit to make it worthwhile. Consider rents in Time Square NYC. Imagine the monthly nut you have to make just to cover rent, taxes, and utilities.

I lived in Seattle for 13 years. They continually fought development which had the unintended consequence of driving property values up. Its gotten a lot higher since then of course.


Ultimately, when the rent is sky high, you still have to compete against on line sources that don't pay the high rents.

On the co op membership model, many co-ops I have visited across the USA charge a membership fee. The co op I volunteer at charges a fee for work stand and tool use (donation).

Last edited by wrk101; 01-01-20 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 01-01-20, 09:25 PM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
I lived in Seattle for 13 years. They continually fought development which had the unintended consequence of driving property values up. Its gotten a lot higher since then of course.


Ultimately, when the rent is sky high, you still have to compete against on line sources that don't pay the high rents.
Yet no one in this thread for the most part wanted to admit that combative approach plays a role in availability and cost of properties.

Thanks for the fresh breath of honesty.

eCommerce is a juggernaut which will not be stopped , let alone stopped by people making poor business decisions.

What you said about Seattle is what I have witnessed living here in Oregon for the past 5 years, an almost adversarial attitude toward business of all sizes and a borderline psychotic attitude towards growth. I spent a good while reading about Urban growth boundaries which have been embraced statewide . Honestly from what I can see , it was a well intentioned and idiotic approach to curb urban sprawl. The term cutting one's own nose off to spite the face keeps coming to mind.
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Old 01-01-20, 11:46 PM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
If I understand this, greed leads to empty buildings because greedy landlords want too much. So they are getting nothing. Not sure about that concept.

Rents where I live are CHEAP, particularly compared to the west coast including the PNW. The problem here is there aren't enough customers to sustain a business even with cheap rent.

In areas with higher rents, businesses need to generate enough profit to make it worthwhile. Consider rents in Time Square NYC. Imagine the monthly nut you have to make just to cover rent, taxes, and utilities.

I lived in Seattle for 13 years. They continually fought development which had the unintended consequence of driving property values up. Its gotten a lot higher since then of course.


Ultimately, when the rent is sky high, you still have to compete against on line sources that don't pay the high rents.

On the co op membership model, many co-ops I have visited across the USA charge a membership fee. The co op I volunteer at charges a fee for work stand and tool use (donation).
Not quite that simple but close I think, the developers and politicos grease each others skids and slide all the way to the bank, all the while locking in, out and down other players as necessary, like I said before, likely making more writing off losses on money they didn't spend to begin with and not paying taxes on income, capital gains and more.

While we pay hand over fist for taxes, subsidies, funding and way too much more.

Last edited by merziac; 01-02-20 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 01-01-20, 11:57 PM
  #83  
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Iím thinking this thread is getting way too political.
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Old 01-02-20, 07:59 AM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Iím thinking this thread is getting way too political.
agree
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Old 01-02-20, 09:58 AM
  #85  
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I do miss the heyday of my youth hanging out at the LBS, drooling over the newest gear etc. Back in my messenger and racing days, I'd be at the shop every weekend. Sometimes just to see friends.

We as a society have moved away from brick & mortar, so small retail shops have had to reinvent themselves just to stay alive. I read recently how Amazon et al have killed big retail book stores, but small mom & pop book sellers are popping up all over. Click on any of the local booksellers's website and you'll see a full calendar of reading events, author signings/talks, story time for kids, good cafes....

How can bike shops reinvent themselves? The few shops that are still around have larger service departments, and fewer bikes than I remember. They seem to make their bread and butter fixing flats -not enough IMO. As much as it pains me, I can't justify paying LBS prices when I know how much cheaper I can get the same thing online. I really want to help, but can't bring myself to spend $75 for a tire that I can get for $30 online. Yeah, yeah, it is totally unfair -online prices are often lower than the dealer's costs- and I do feel awful but I am also in no position to throw my money away. As a former mechanic, I do all my own wrenching, so there is very little reason for me to ever even go into a bike shop any more, which makes me sad.

A buddy and I brainstormed and came up with the type of business *we* would frequent. We thought of a place in or near downtown that catered to commuters. It would have bikes, clothes, parts and a service dept (obviously), but also a cafe, and locker/changing rooms that commuters could rent. It would have showers, lockers, bike storage. All could be coin-op or membership. The idea was that you could commute into town, get cleaned up, grab a bite + coffee, then head to the office. Since it would offer secure bike storage and lockers, you could ride you *nice* bike instead of a beater. Hopefully, it would be a cool place to hang out, drink some good coffee and socialize with other cycling nuts.

Neither one of us had the guts to actually do anything about it....
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Old 01-02-20, 09:58 AM
  #86  
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The shops were given a temporary reprieve by the last retro bike boom that happened a few years ago.
Now a lot if young people are not riding their bikes anymore or buying new ones because of the rise of electric scooters and rentable city bikes in most urban areas. Sad thing is, I don't see things turning around for the industry for a very long time.
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Old 01-02-20, 10:13 AM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by Rocket-Sauce View Post
A buddy and I brainstormed and came up with the type of business *we* would frequent. We thought of a place in or near downtown that catered to commuters. It would have bikes, clothes, parts and a service dept (obviously), but also a cafe, and locker/changing rooms that commuters could rent. It would have showers, lockers, bike storage. All could be coin-op or membership. The idea was that you could commute into town, get cleaned up, grab a bite + coffee, then head to the office. Since it would offer secure bike storage and lockers, you could ride you *nice* bike instead of a beater. Hopefully, it would be a cool place to hang out, drink some good coffee and socialize with other cycling nuts.

Neither one of us had the guts to actually do anything about it....
That is actually a great idea and it MIGHT just have legs in the right Major Urban market. However I have a feeling it would fail miserably in most markets across the US .
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Old 01-02-20, 10:14 AM
  #88  
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Hey guys. Let's stop with the political content so we won't have to move or close this thread.
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Old 01-02-20, 10:24 AM
  #89  
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Originally Posted by Chombi1 View Post
The shops were given a temporary reprieve by the last retro bike boom that happened a few years ago.
Now a lot if young people are not riding their bikes anymore or buying new ones because of the rise of electric scooters and rentable city bikes in most urban areas. Sad thing is, I don't see things turning around for the industry for a very long time.
they recently put in a bunch of rental city bikes in Salem by the transit center the rack is almost always full when I pedal down the street past it .


lime doesnít really have a presence here yet. Like they do in Portland or Seattle

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Old 01-02-20, 11:47 AM
  #90  
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Interestingly, I see that The Pro's Closet raised $4.3MM in capital for expansion.

There must be (some?) profit in buying/selling used bike stuff.
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Old 01-02-20, 11:55 AM
  #91  
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AFAIK CityBikes in its shrunken state remains solvent, so I thought about their biz model.
Focused on repair and service of older bikes. Used parts sales. Very limited new product, limited to "need it right now" basic consumables (gloves, headlights, tubes, tires). Small retail space in a funky old building that probably isn't suitable for much else.

Also AFAIK River City Bikes seems to be doing okay. That's an entirely different biz model.
Tons of new bikes and merch, from basic to high end.
Large retail space.
Lots of club, ride, social stuff.

So maybe you gotta stay small and keep costs super low, or go big but do it really well in a way that attracts customers with $$$.
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Old 01-02-20, 12:12 PM
  #92  
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Originally Posted by SamSpade1941 View Post
they recently put in a bunch of rental city bikes in Salem by the transit center the rack is almost always full when I pedal down the street past it .

lime doesn’t really have a presence here yet. Like they do in Portland or Seattle
I suspect and expect that Portland's bike share "BikeTown" is struggling. They went dockless under political pressure to expand service area to "under served" neighborhoods in the name of equity and inclusion. Now I see isolated BikeTown bikes scattered all over the place, but many docks have only a couple of bikes. I see fewer BikeTown bikes actually in use. I believe this is due to the difficulty of finding a BikeTown bikes when you want one, and competition from e-scooters.

Meanwhile the e-scooters don't seem like a sustainable biz. The financial info leaked for Lime last year showed it was losing money hand over fist. E-scooter companies are starting to pull out of various cities and towns, though not from Portland yet. They started with bikeshare, expanded into e-scooters and e-bikes, but I think the venture capital money is drying up. The numbers never made sense to me. Make $1-2/ride and maybe get 5 rides/day but it costs $6-10/day to recharge/reposition each e-scooter and each e-scooters only last a few months (vandalism, theft, wear and tear) while the e-bikes may last longer but cost substantially more to recharge and reposition.

My feeling is that in a couple years, BikeTown will be kaput and most of the e-scooter companies will be too.

I've been paying $12/mo to support BikeTown even though I ride them maybe 1x year. I think I'm going to give up on that.
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Old 01-02-20, 12:24 PM
  #93  
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Here's the conundrum.

Many (most?) people want a careeer that allows you to have a family, adequate health insurance, own your own home, take a nice vacation once a year, and save enough to retire comfortably. Can you do that owning a bike shop? In most every case, the answer is no.

I worked at bike shops in my early 20's and realized I was living paycheck to paycheck. I was having a great time, but was headed nowhere. I managed a store in Berkeley full time, which paid a bit more, but still had none chance of making that a career - and I was probably making more money than the owner from the shop. So I went back to school, finished an engineering degree, and have worked in corporate America and have met all of my career goals. It hasn't been nearly as fun as working in a bike shop, but I'm working towards "retiring" into framebuilding - I'll be able to afford it then! I might even work part time in a small bike shop for minimum wage if I can find one that does a lot of vintage stuff.

Maybe part of the answer is using the untapped reservoir of retirees to supplement your labor needs.
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Old 01-02-20, 12:49 PM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Here's the conundrum.

Many (most?) people want a careeer that allows you to have a family, adequate health insurance, own your own home, take a nice vacation once a year, and save enough to retire comfortably. Can you do that owning a bike shop? In most every case, the answer is no.

I worked at bike shops in my early 20's and realized I was living paycheck to paycheck. I was having a great time, but was headed nowhere. I managed a store in Berkeley full time, which paid a bit more, but still had none chance of making that a career - and I was probably making more money than the owner from the shop. So I went back to school, finished an engineering degree, and have worked in corporate America and have met all of my career goals. It hasn't been nearly as fun as working in a bike shop, but I'm working towards "retiring" into framebuilding - I'll be able to afford it then! I might even work part time in a small bike shop for minimum wage if I can find one that does a lot of vintage stuff.

Maybe part of the answer is using the untapped reservoir of retirees to supplement your labor needs.
Which bike shop - Grove Ave Cyclery?
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Old 01-02-20, 12:59 PM
  #95  
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
Which bike shop - Grove Ave Cyclery?
Which question? Past or future?
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Old 01-02-20, 02:36 PM
  #96  
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Which question? Past or future?
Both!
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Old 01-02-20, 02:59 PM
  #97  
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Here's the conundrum.

Many (most?) people want a careeer that allows you to have a family, adequate health insurance, own your own home, take a nice vacation once a year, and save enough to retire comfortably. Can you do that owning a bike shop? In most every case, the answer is no.

I worked at bike shops in my early 20's and realized I was living paycheck to paycheck. I was having a great time, but was headed nowhere. I managed a store in Berkeley full time, which paid a bit more, but still had none chance of making that a career - and I was probably making more money than the owner from the shop. So I went back to school, finished an engineering degree, and have worked in corporate America and have met all of my career goals. It hasn't been nearly as fun as working in a bike shop, but I'm working towards "retiring" into framebuilding - I'll be able to afford it then! I might even work part time in a small bike shop for minimum wage if I can find one that does a lot of vintage stuff.

Maybe part of the answer is using the untapped reservoir of retirees to supplement your labor needs.
I had worked for one shop for 5 years, by wages were just always a smidge more than minimum wage, from junior high on.
I was offered more $ at an ice cream store of all places, when I was 8 years old I wanted to work at a bike shop and ice cream store.
Done, started off at 10% more than the bike shop. Got a raise before 6 weeks in, the bike shop called me and asked to come back.
OK, but not giving up the other job, fun to work and the co-workers are attractive. (mostly sorority members)
They were gobsmacked at what I was earning per hour, but met it.
Few bicycle shops get beyond the low wage paradigm.
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Old 01-02-20, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
My feeling is that in a couple years, BikeTown will be kaput and most of the e-scooter companies will be too.
Yay!
​​​​​

Sorry, I know some of you like these eyesores scattered all about, because they might take a few cars off the road, but I hate the dockless bikeshare concept. I think they're part of the reason the c&v market is crap.
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Old 01-02-20, 04:12 PM
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In my area (San Jose, silicon valley) it feels like not many are closing (expect performance)

I have an idea that building ownership/low rent and specialty make the difference

I don't know all the shops (especially in mtn view, sunnyvale, palo alto areas ) but this is what I see as durable shops (certainly not all, but ones i have dealt with)

Hyland cycles...family owned going on 4th generation, follow trends (cruiser, fixie, ebike) and show up under a lot of Christmas trees. probably own their buiding, been around over 40 years
Wheelaway cycle center, similar to above
Slough's Pretty much a one man shop, super owner/mechanic....seen it all, fan of steel but rides carbon been around at least 30 years
Cupertino Bike shop. High end road bike niche....
Mikes Bikes, what appears to be a well run regional chaing (6 to 8 stores) good mix kids to high end
The Off Ramp...discount bikes, often last last years models bought my nishiki their in 82
La dolce velo, nice shop, fairly new, group rides and community support
Silva's cycles..... frame builders, custom rack, custom mods, custom unicyles, large fix/modify business, sell Jones, Rivendel, etc (my go to shop when I have an issue or don't have the tool) low rent in a sort industrial car repair area
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Old 01-03-20, 03:01 AM
  #100  
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Over the last couple of years, I've found myself wondering where I'd put a bike shop in my local neighborhood/hill (Queen Anne), or where I'd put one in neighboring Magnolia. It's a tough call because both neighborhoods have considerable topography. I mean, it's also just Seattle in general, but the underlying question is, "What location would be inviting for both casual family shopping, and perhaps even for dedicated riders?" Quiet street/neighborhood location? Flat terrain all around? Easy to get to?

Do the successful stores sustain themselves because they adopt the ancient and time-tested logic of starting and developing a city on or along a major body of water (ocean, river, etc)? Vital for commerce, a city located on water was "plugged in" to that commerce 'highway' or 'network.'

Recycled Cycles here in Seattle has worked hard to stay profitable and offer new bikes and parts, great service, and a ton of used components (all vintages). Clothes and gear, too. They are located at the south end of UW's campus, and also, crucially IMO, right off the Burke-Gilman Trail--huge MUP and cycling-commuter highway. The dip off the BGT is easy enough, and the storefront has a lot of parking available to it, along with the street in front of it being super flat, with an adjacent parking lot. Test rides are easy, and the street and parking lot are more 'dead end' than thoroughfare. Still waters, you know?

Bike Works (Columbia City, SE of downtown, on the other side of Beacon Hill / ridge) works due to it's non-profit business model, good service, low used parts pricing, tons of volunteers, and constant donations (a considerable amount of very nice bikes/parts get donated regularly--it's astounding). It's in a very flat section of a residential neighborhood with slower streets. Not too far from main neighborhood 'greenways' (it's along it, I suppose) or riding along Lake Washington. A bit in the middle of a metaphorical lake. Their community involvement (bike giveaways and youth programs primarily) is also huge, and that adds to the "plugged in" aspect.

Free Range Cycles is a great, tiny shop in lower Fremont (just north of QA) that's a block off the BGT (but in full view from the trail), and serves commuters primarily (and very well). Quaint, small, two-story building with big windows. Very inviting. Also in a flat, airy section of Fremont right by the waterfront (the canal that runs from Puget Sound to Lake Union and Lake Washington eventually).

I think about Community Cycling Center in Portland. Essentially the only bike shop I visit (when in town) due to my particular bicycle interests. Solid service, a ton of used components that are priced well (AND CLEAN!), plus built-up and as-is used bikes. On flippin' Alberta St. in a big flat section of NE Portland. They do community stuff as well, but all in all, they are as wired into a bike ecosystem as you can be.

City Bikes is, to me, off the proverbial beaten path. I care not for their over-pricing of used components (especially given the condition of some/many) and still see many of the same cranksets hanging from the ceiling. Usually CCC will have what I need, and CB often doesn't. Their second, larger location, had more framesets, which I liked. CB's location is at the end of a weirdish, quiet street, literally cordoned off by Burnside, 20th, and Sandy Blvd. 20th is a main two-lane, and the other two streets are big time vehicle pipelines. Stark is a handful of blocks to the south--another big road. The area is a gentle hill, and Universal is also within shouting distance. A few other things make it not the most obvious place to have a bike shop.

Having stopped by a number of other bike shops in the Seattle area, they are all small (out of necessity, I presume) and placed in not-completely-ideal parts of neighborhoods or just plain on busy streets. And or with steep hilly roads/land immediately around them.

At any rate, these are my observations and theories on what I think is part of the reason some of the local shops are able to stay around. Topography, atmosphere, and noise level. Another way to say "location, location, location!"
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