The Chainlink

Both my wife and I have called them a bunch of times over the past couple weeks (and left messages), because she has her eye on a particular Public bike and they seem to carry them. No response, no one ever answers during business hours or calls back. Anyone know what's up? I may have to make a trip over there just to see if anyone's alive. 

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Good business decisions are devoid of emotion. It is quite unfortunate that they are in this predicament, but whether they succeed is entirely in their hands. I don't think it was a particularly harsh critique at all. I would also imagine that bike shops run by 'appointment' won't be bike shops for long.

I would also hesitate to say that we need more bike shops of all kinds in this city. Maybe in certain parts, but we've got them in spades on the north side, at least. 

I would like to see more bike shops around in my neighborhood. I live in archer heights on the south side by Midway airport. I don't think there's any bike shops out here. There's a few out by Bridgeport and by UIC where I go to school. It would be nice if one opened around my area though. 

Samuel,

 

I used to live at 31st and Canal, so I know how lacking in commerce the south side can be. I think it would be awesome for you south-siders to have a place to go. But, in Copenhagen's situation, there are probably close to a half-dozen shops within a couple of miles.

Off the top of my head, within a mile you have Rapid Transit, Comrade Cycles, and Quick Release. If you expand out to 2 miles you also have Smart Bike Parts, Village Cycle Center, REI, and JC Lind (which is in the same niche of selling expensive Dutch bikes). I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting, but there are a half dozen shops at a minimum within 2 miles.



Jim S said:

Samuel,

 

I used to live at 31st and Canal, so I know how lacking in commerce the south side can be. I think it would be awesome for you south-siders to have a place to go. But, in Copenhagen's situation, there are probably close to a half-dozen shops within a couple of miles.

Not having your store front open because of staffing issues or personal emergencies is one thing but failing to return calls, and especially e-mails, is pretty much unforgivable for a business.  If there really is an issue so serious you cannot attend to your business properly it is quite easy to change your outgoing voice mail and set an auto-responder on your e-mail letting people know what is happening.

FWIW, Rapid Transit will happily work on your dutch bike. ;)

I have not received any responses from my calls either, as of 3 weeks ago.  I've passed by there 4 times in the past 2 weeks, never open, but the do have a shop FULL of bikes!

Copenhagen is in the higher-end side of a niche market within a niche market in a business which really isn't all that mainstream to begin with (bicycle shops.)

Just about any bike shop can work on  your bike no matter how strange it is -even a Bakfeit or other weird cargo variant.  A bike is a bike and a good bicycle mechanic should be able to work on anything.  There are lot weirder things out there such as high-end suspensions and such that take special tools and knowledge.  Dutch bikes really aren't exactly state-of-the-art.

We've already lost one such business on the north side and that leaves us with Copenhagen and JC Lind.   Within the niche there is a lot of competition from the venerable 70's and earlier 3-speeds for those who are out to get a very similar experience at a tiny fraction of the cost.  These bikes were built to LAST and many  have lasted (if they weren't thrown out by people because they were collecting dust)  until today and after a good heavy tune up are very good bikes.  

These bikes have become very popular and I'm afraid that high-end shops have become a victim of their own popularity as many of the other LBS's are carrying similar comfort-bike models at a fraction of the cost of the Dutch imports.  Heck, you can even buy this style of bike at Walmart these days.  So the Niche is actually exploding into the general market so that the niche shops are gong to have a harder time competing with the rest of the bicycle shop mainstream.  They are so not the only game in town any more.  

Perhaps Copenhagen's clientele is so well-healed that they can afford to be an appointment-only shop right now and can limp along until their issues are taken care of later this spring.  I don't know the details of what they are all going through other than some personal issues and a manager that jumped ship.  I hope they can weather this storm and continue to operate as these high-end comfort and cargo bikes are necessary to keep the interest in a niche market and helps drive it from the top.  

But if you are looking for a more economical comfort bike solution there are a number of us out there who are cranking out fixed-up and restored examples of vintage 3-speeds and making custom conversions from MTB's and such.  For accessories, nearly all the kinds of stuff that one could only find at a specialty shop a year or so ago are starting to show up at more mainstream LBS's like Boulevard and such.   I have noticed that many bike shops are stocking many more city/comfort/and cargo-appropriate bikes in their selection.     A full selection of dyno hubs and dyno lights is a bit harder to find, but the lights are starting to show up with more selection and a regular shop can always order you anything from their wholesaler -or there is always Amazon.

However, the crux of the originator of this thread's complaint was that he cannot make an appointment with the business when they never return his e-mails or calls.

I had the same thing happen when I was seeking a powdercoater in Chicago for Blackadder.  I won't mention any names but I was reading some critiques of one of the businesses I tried to contact.  It sounds like the same lament as Copenhagen Bikes has received.  "Store is never open, they don't answer e-mails, they never return telephone calls."  I eventually formed a very satisfying business realtionship with Powdercoat Studio in Traverse City, Michigan and I'll do more business with Dennis in the future.

It was definitely a feather in Chicago's cap that we had (have, if you count the new Heritage Bicycles store) three European-style bike shops, so I'd suggest that people be patient and supportive of Copenhagen while they figure out their next move.

As for the lack of bike shops on the South Side, look for an article about Chicago's "bike shop desert" problem in an upcoming issue of Urban Velo magazine.

There is a chicken/egg catch 22 on the south side. People don't ride as much because the infrastructure is so much worse (some pretty terrible riding conditions/lack of viable routes as well as a bike shop desert). But the excuse for the infrastructure disaster is that people don't ride as much. CDOT has some pretty great proposals for fixing the routes problem. We need to stay on CDOT and get our aldermen on board - if they are not already.

John Greenfield said:

...

As for the lack of bike shops on the South Side, look for an article about Chicago's "bike shop desert" problem in an upcoming issue of Urban Velo magazine.

Bikes can be ridden on almost any street/road except for those that are off-limits.  Special accommodations such as sharrows/lanes/tracks are nice -but if they are built (expensive) in areas where there are no riders taking advantage of the fact that ANY street can be a cycle street then it is a waste.

The people who live and work in these areas are going to need to step up and show those who control the purse-strings that they are needed AND wanted by the locals before they loosen up those strings and spend some cash.   This is just the way politics work.  Politicians spend precious resources and cash on getting votes.  Spending it where the people are not wanting it (or worse yet are going to hate it) just isn't a smart idea for a politician or their career following the next election. 

I'm guessing most of the bikes ridden in working class and lower income neighborhoods are of the department store variety.  I'm not sure how profitable a bike shop in some of these neighborhoods would be.

Tony Adams said:

There is a chicken/egg catch 22 on the south side. People don't ride as much because the infrastructure is so much worse (some pretty terrible riding conditions/lack of viable routes as well as a bike shop desert). But the excuse for the infrastructure disaster is that people don't ride as much. CDOT has some pretty great proposals for fixing the routes problem. We need to stay on CDOT and get our aldermen on board - if they are not already.

John Greenfield said:

...

As for the lack of bike shops on the South Side, look for an article about Chicago's "bike shop desert" problem in an upcoming issue of Urban Velo magazine.

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