Research, or a good excuse to visit Portland and San Francisco
If we planned on opening a bike shop in a city known for 8 lane car super highways, we needed to do some research in cities where people owned more bikes than cars. Portland was our main destination, but added San Francisco because it was so close, and we wanted to experience a larger city that was bike friendly.
I was super excited about visiting Portland not only for research, but because I’ve heard amazing things about the city and wanted to see it for myself. I booked an airbnb and rented bikes using Spinlister for us to see Portland the best way…by 2 wheels. We were impressed with the way Portland treats it’s cycling community. The infrastructure of the roads accommodates cyclist so much, that there are full lanes downtown painted bike lane green with tons of cyclists using them. It was fairly easy to ride across town using neighborhood streets with and without bike lanes. Drivers are used to seeing bikes on streets and have learned to share the road.
Out of 13 shops on our list, we made it to 7. Our favorite was Velo Cult. Justin loved their concept and that they were an International destination. I loved the locally made cherry cider on tap at their sprawling bar inside the shop, and that there were people there socializing with the shop mechanics. The other stops were a good mix of different types of shops. There was a women’s specific shop, cargo bike shop, and a few traditional road and mountain bike shops. We left not finding exactly what we wanted, and still curious if the bike shop concept we had in mind was really going to work.
Next up was San Francisco. After a short flight on a Sunday afternoon, we took the night off from touring bike shops and caught up with a friend from Dallas. The next morning we woke as early as our hangovers would let us and set out on a bike adventure. We ended up taking 3 modes of transportation to get to 5 shops in 1 day. As always, renting bikes was the most fun way to see the city minus the hills of San Fran and a flat tire. As any traveler knows, set backs are a learning experience and we used the flat tire as an opportunity to see what one shop thought about their POS system. One thing we did forget when planning the trip was some shops closed on Mondays. There were a few we could only peek in through the window. Our trip changed when we got to the last 2 stops on our itinerary, Mission Bicycles, and Huckleberry Bicycles. These shops proved our theory that not everyone wanted a typical bike shop experience. There was a market for a well designed store and a thoughtful selection of bikes and products. With our heads full of ideas, we headed home and started working with our ultra resourceful and creative interior designer on a layout for the store.