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Economic downturn claims first bike shop victim

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

At the shop’s opening night
back in December.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Custom Bicycles of Portland, a high-end, custom bike retail shop and fitting studio that opened in Northwest Portland back in December, is closing its doors.

Owner Adam Reiser says the “perfect storm” of a bleak local and national economic picture hit his business hard. But there was more to that storm than just the economy. Reiser took a gamble on his dream that he could establish a new bike brand (Guru Bicycles from Canada) with a new purchasing concept, and do it on NW 23rd Ave., one of Portland’s highest-rent commercial districts.

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Retail space on NW 23rd is not cheap.

Back in December, I asked Reiser if he was worried about the gathering economic clouds. At that time, he said he wouldn’t know if they “sink or swim” until March, but he felt CBOP was “tight enough to weather the storm.”

Reiser had hoped to kindle Portland’s interest in triathlon as a way to keep his shop relevant and successful. Reiser — a top-tier professional triathlete — came to Portland from Austin Texas, where he built Jack & Adam’s Bicycles into one of the country’s Top 100 bike shops.

The closing of Reiser’s shop comes within weeks of other signs that show Portland’s bike shops are doing well amid the downturn. Southeast Portland newspaper, The Bee, reported last week that shops focusing on cargo and utility bikes have seen an uptick in business. And Sunday, the business section of The Oregonian reported that The Bike Gallery’s business is up over last January.