As the many of you who I've seen in person in the last couple of weeks already know, I'm in the process of making a big change in my life. After 16 years of making my living as an architect, I've quit my job, and am starting on another path, running a bicycle shop specializing in transportation cycling.
As longtime readers and locals know, Cambridge, Somerville, Boston, and environs have a flourishing transportation bicycling scene. More and more people are realizing that a bicycle is the most convenient way around a dense and parking- challenged city, as well as being healthy, green and fun! So it's almost shocking that there's no place in town to test-ride a bakfiets, and very few where you can buy a traditional step through city bike with fenders, chainguard, rack and lights built in. There also aren't many places that focus on bicycling with kids, which I think is increasingly needed as people who bike everywhere start families and want to continue their cycling lifestyle, and pass it along to their kids.
So, I'm going to try to fill that gap with a new shop called Bicycle Belle. I've rented space on a prime cycling route- the corner of Beacon St and Oxford St (368 Beacon) on the Somerville/ Cambridge line; hopefully soon to be the head of the new cycletrack. It's freshly painted and I've replaced the fluorescent tubes with decorative lights. I'm in the process of ordering bikes and accessories, installing shop fixtures and generally getting things sorted and set up. It's been a busy couple of weeks, both before I quit my job, and this first week that I'm working full time on the shop.
The first boxes of accessories and the first set of bikes will arrive next week, and we'll be getting bikes through the summer as longer lead time european bikes (Workcycles and Paper bikes) start to trickle in.
It's a big scary leap into the unknown, as I know absolutely nothing about retail- I never even worked in a shop in high school- I was a waitress instead! But it's something I have a passion for, something I follow obsessively in my free time, and something I hope that the city needs and wants. I've already had some ups and downs, and I'm sure that will continue, as I learn the ropes and figure out the industry, the retail business and the market. I hope that I can provide a real service to people looking for these kinds of bikes, and maybe even make a living doing it. I just have to trust that I can figure out all the details along the way!
I'm incredibly grateful to the support of my family, the Scientists' family (my family too now!) my bikey friends who have been giving support- especially Velouria from Lovely Bicycle who has been meeting with me for months helping me plot and scheme. And more than anyone the Scientist, who is not only taking on the responsibility of supporting us while I get this off the ground, but has enthusiastically encouraged me through all the planning and dreaming and teeth-gnashing.
I don't have a firm opening date, but I expect it will be in the month of June. I suspect that this blog may become a diary more about opening a bike shop than riding, as I work to make it all happen.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions for inventory or other ideas, and I hope to see those of you in the Boston area at the shop once it's open for business!