Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 3rd, 2010 at 10:57 am
A flyer that has been posted far and wide on the streets of Portland contains allegations that the owner of local used bike shop chain, The Recyclery, “knowingly purchases” and then sells stolen goods.
The flyer contains serious accusations and names The Recyclery’s owner Robby Fenstermaker as being responsible for the alleged “fencing operation.” Fenstermaker says he’s aware of the flyers and maintains the allegations are likely the result of sour grapes due to the success of his business.
So far, the flyer has been seen in Southeast, Northeast, and North Portland. Here’s a photo of it spotted at NE 30th and Multnomah Ave. (sent in by a reader):
Here’s an excerpt:
“Don’t support The Recyclery!… James ‘Robby’ Fenstermaker knowingly purchases obviously stolen bikes from sketchy people, strips them down, and sells them. He doesn’t always check serial numbers because he knows some are stolen… He is a plague on Portland’s bicycle community… We can’t prevent all bicycle theft, but we can stop a bicycle fencing operation that exists in our town.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard allegations like this about The Recyclery, so I called Fenstermaker yesterday and asked him to respond.
“When someone comes in, we get the serial number, all their personal contact info, run it through the City and then wait two weeks before we pay them anything… No bike thief would do that.”
— Robby Fenstermaker
Fenstermaker, 36, says that he has no idea who is posting the flyers, but he acknowledges that he did “have a lot of problems with employees last year,” — insinuating that the author of this flyer could be a disgrunted, ex-employee.
The City has very specific rules for shops that deal in used goods of any kind, and bike shops fall under the same regulations. “We run everything through city like we’re supposed to,” says Fenstermaker, “When someone comes in, we get the serial number, all their personal contact info, run it through the City and then wait two weeks before we pay them anything. You can’t sell us a bike the same day you bring it in.”
According to Fenstermaker, no bike thief would be willing to wait two weeks for payment. Regulations aside, Fenstermaker adds, “Not to mention, I don’t like tweakers, so if anyone shady comes in, I won’t deal with them.”
The challenge for Fenstermaker though, is that he’s not the only one managing interactions with sellers. He admitted that he’s had his share of problems finding trustworthy employees and he’s had to let some of them go due to unscrupulous dealings around used goods purchases:
“We’ve gone through so many employees. Finding someone that you can trust that knows how to do the job and knows what stuff is worth… There’s not many people in town that can do the job.”
The Recyclery has grown to four locations in recent years, and Fenstermaker says that kind of success wouldn’t be possible if he was selling stolen bikes — and success, he maintains, also comes with its envy-fueled detractors:
“I’ve grown this business from a basement to what it is and there’s no way you can do that in this town selling stolen bikes. I think it’s just Portland. If you’re good at anything, there will be people who… I think a lot of it is just bitter people. They just sit around and talk about stuff. I really don’t get it.”
If anyone knows who posted these flyers, I’d love to talk with them.
UPDATE: I’ve posted a follow-up story following a conversation with Sergeant Troy King of the Portland Police Bureau: Police: No complaints lodged against The Recyclery