Thank you for supporting Clever Cycles. It will soon be ten years since we opened the doors! We couldn't have done it without you, so we're throwing a party to celebrate. Keep the afternoon of Saturday, June 10th free - as you won't want to miss this. We'll be in touch with more details soon... Until then, here's a little reflection on our last ten years.
Before there were iPhones and their copies, when the US had been at war in the Middle East a mere 6 years, before LEDs overtook CFLs and even incandescents still kicked, before Portlandia, before fracking, before Portland parents were more than 0.01% likely to own, let alone rely on a cargo bike to move about the city with their children, before clever green street paint and Safe Routes to School and Neighborhood Greenways and Sunday Parkways, when Amazon sold mainly books, before our own sweet small children became young men and women, we opened Clever Cycles. We've survived and grown.
In a town with dozens of larger established bike shops, having no bike industry and minimal retail experience ourselves -- pure amateurs -- we knew that success depended in part on offering something new and different. That part came naturally, as our bike sensibilities were already outré, primarily influenced by our experience as parents either car-free or car-lite, seeking to help other mothers and dads find what we had over years of effort to stay on our bikes daily through the breeding years in a sometimes hostile culture.
We were opening a bike shop that wouldn't carry any sporting goods, lycra or clicky shoes, water bottles, car racks, or bikes without kickstands, fenders, bells, and racks. Some would cost more than bikes lacking these features. Also no cruisers or "commuter" hybrids, nor any other mainstream genre of bike in the US at all. But there was a Lego area and changing table.
Our opening inventory consisted mostly of real-deal Dutch family haulers, imported from WorkCycles in Amsterdam. To this day, half of people mispronounce or misspell bakfiets, but more than half of Portlanders seem to know what one is. We're still servicing (minimally) the first generation sold, now on 3rd and 4th families, indestructible. Also Dutch city bikes, north of 65lbs, stately, heirloom-tough and purposeful as cast iron cookware. Alongside were longtails, cobbled together from Xtracycle's pioneering FreeRadical kit and donors, and Brompton folding bikes. Linus city bikes, introduced in 2009, with their clean retro lines and solid value, are right up there in most widely beloved offerings over time.
We also carried pure wool infant and toddler suits from Denmark with the lanolin soap to match, and cute dresses, and lots of other nice wool street clothes that too few people ever expect to find at a bike shop. We still wear and love it -- best stuff ever on a bike in this clime -- but have bowed under years of blows to not stock it anymore: clothing has been our biggest business failure as a category: from now on it's just hats, gloves, and raingear with the occasional neck warmer.
The Great Recession, two expansions, and twelve break-ins later, a marriage among founders dissolved, we persist, pleased at how much less justification we need to provide for what we do: now it's only out-of-towners who scratch their heads and ask how much everything weighs. Out and about, it bursts our hearts with pride to see so many bikes rolling around, whether we sold them or not.
Thanks again for your support. We hope to see you soon!
Todd, Eva, Dean & The Clever Cycles crew.