Friday, April 10, 2015

Does Chic Pay the Bills?

I never went into full-blown mourning about the shuttering of Houndstooth Road here. I was in metro-Atlanta just a week after they closed, unbeknownst to me. I was hanging out with my friend, Darryl, my mom, and doing a tad bit of shopping. The closest I got to Dekalb County was my old neighborhood of Little Five Points. I told myself I would stop by the shop during my next trip to Georgia. I don't think I found out how wrong I was until I was back in Virginia.

I would've at least liked to have said a, "job well done," to Jae for creating such a delightful bike shop and wished him well in his future endeavours. (And you know if there was a sale going on I would've found something to buy).

After such a bitter end to the summer, I was shocked when AdelineAdeline closed that fall. It felt like all the cycle chic shops were closing. I believe I checked The Daily Rider and Pedal Chic Fb pages to make sure that they weren't closing too. (They didn't).

I reflect upon all of this now after a recent visit to my local, unassuming suburban bike shop. It's not in the most adorable neighborhood in Portsmouth or the reemerging downtown area. It's nestled amongst strip malls in Churchland and has been in this location for thirty years or so.

There are no ruffled or faux fur-covered relective vests hanging on the walls. Hand-painted Belle Helmets and Japanese brass bells are nowhere to be seen. There's just a rack of lycra kit and the accessories needed for basic bike repair, storage, and commuting in their simplest and least adorned forms. As I'm not in the market for a new bike, nothing on the sales floor really catches my eye. I'd say there's nothing remarkable about this place other than the fact that it's been here for upwards of thirty years.

I wonder if having a shop full of chic merchandise in a hot part of town is just too costly to maintain longterm. And if you build it in a neighborhood that's not on the radar will the early adopters still come? It's an especially cruel catch-22 that location can subject a cycle chic purveyor to unsustainably low retail traffic or skyrocketing rent that strips her of her profits. Still, I have faith that those who spurn Lycra will not go underserved. In New York, Eleanor's is carrying the delightful bike accoutrement you'd find at AdelineAdeline— just in a less expensive borrough. Perhaps Atlanta's Historic West end could be the spot for another chic bike store to put down roots. If they build it, I'll be sure to come by.


spiderleggreen said...

I was sad to hear that Chicago Dutch Bike went out of business a few years ago. That's where I bought my dutch bike. Starting up a business is hard work and you never know if it work out. I don't think Chic is dead, it's just a higher risk business, due to the added expenses.

Courtnee said...

I agree, spiderleggreen. The House of Talents bicycle bakets Houndstooth Road carried are way more than any basket I'd seen in a regular bike shop. I just hope that a less expensive address or online business are measures that decrease the financial pressure enough for chic bike shops to keep their doors open.

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