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Spoketown Cargo is Portland’s newest bike-based business

Posted by on December 2nd, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Joel Sheley of Spoketown Cargo secures a load on his delivery bike.

Joel Sheley is the latest Portlander to be swept up in the local bike business wave. Sheley has launched Spoketown Cargo with hopes of building a business delivering goods by bike.

Spoketown Cargo - Joel Sheley-4-4

Sheley, who will turn 40 in January, was a beer maker for Widmer Bros. for over 15 years before deciding it was time for a change. “I just went for it,” he said during a brief visit to the BikePortland office this morning. “I got tired of doing beer. I still love it; but I think I love this more.” (After such a big career change, I wasn’t surprised when Sheley added, “And my wife is supportive.”)

Sheley rolls with an eye-catching Bullitt “bakfiets” style cargo bike equipped with a Bionx electric assist system. The build was by local cargo bike specialty shop Splendid Cycles. Sheley wouldn’t tell me how it all costs. When I asked, he smiled and said, “A lot… It hasn’t paid for itself yet.”

For Spoketown Cargo to become a thriving business, Sheley hopes to ink contracts with local businesses that want an earth-friendly and efficient delivery solution. He’s already working with Trailhead Coffee and he’s in talks with local senior homes to pick up residents’ medicines from pharmacies and drug stores. Sheley says at this point he’s open to anything. “I’d deliver pizzas if someone wants me to.”

As a resident of outer northeast (near the Gresham border), Sheley hopes to bring some of the Portland cargo bike flavor to a new audience. “Riding this thing out near my place certainly gets much different looks than when I’m downtown.” Sheley, like many others in our growing cargo bike business scene, sees his bike as more than a business tool. “Getting bikes out there in front of people is a good thing. I hope it’s something that can connect the bike community with the non-bike community.”

If your business could use a hand making deliveries, check out SpoketownCargo.com. Good luck Joel!

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  • 9watts December 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    This is the future! Great project.

    “he’s in talks with local senior homes to pick up residents’ medicines from pharmacies and drug stores.”
    Perhaps with efforts like this we can even stand a chance of preventing Walgreens [www.Walbrowns.com] from building a drive-thru at SE 39th and Cesar Chavez. The City is poised to approve the project over neighbor objections.

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  • Nick V December 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Tired of beer? Oh the horror!!! Anyway, good luck, Joel!

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  • A.K. December 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Awesome, good luck!

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  • joel December 3, 2011 at 7:54 am

    and portland gains its, er, 4th? cargo-bike-related joel :)

    good luck, and aim high with your pricing, joel – the biggest mistake people entering the bike delivery market make is undervaluing the service they provide and the labor they perform. see what the larger players in the industry charge, and then charge MORE than them, because while you may be a greenhorn ( :) ), youre providing a specialized service, to a specialized service area.

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  • Litter Patrol December 3, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Very cool and good luck! I’m starting my own delivery service about 100 miles north of you guys. It’s gonna be limited hours and more about showing folks what bikes can do than profits(thinking about 1-2$ a delivery) but at least I can write off all bike purchases as business expenses now!

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  • Zaphod December 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    We’re happy to have Joel working with us getting coffee where it needs to be!

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