Portland’s only bike shop that specialized in the needs of triathletes is closing its doors. Athletes Lounge in northwest on Vaughn and 26th plans to close by October 1st.
Gary Wallesen has owned the shop for nearly six years after purchasing it from its previous owner who had run it since 2007.
Wallesen says the business isn’t strong enough to remain open. “Last year the numbers were down, this year numbers really down,” he shared via email last week. And he also offered some external reasons he feels the bike shop business is especially challenging these days. “The business environment is changing, online [shopping] is growing, a shop in town discounts everything and hurts all others. There is a big inventory of new bikes in Portland and the market.” Wallesen said the triathlon market is particularly flat (pun intended).
He even shared one cautionary tale that might point to larger trends: “I think people are looking to ride, but the roads are getting more crowded and a little less safe. So markets that take riders of the road might be doing better.”
Overall, Wallesen says the issues he dealt with are likely impacting other bike shops. “Change is happening. I really don’t know who will survive. Our city is going through a shift.”
The closure of Athletes Lounge will have a big impact on the local triathlon scene. The shop was an ardent supporter of local races and, as shops often do, acted as a gathering place for enthusiasts old and new. Here’s what the Portland Triathlon Club tweeted upon hearing the news:
A huge loss for Portland's tri community. Thanks for always being so supportive of our club @AthletesLounge https://t.co/LjBgG1kVjJ
— Portland Tri Club (@pdxtriclub) August 18, 2016
Portlander Dan Silvernail bought a bike from Athletes Lounge last year. He said not having the shop will leave a void because, “No other bike shop in Portland knows the first thing about triathlon, in fact most bike shops laugh at triathletes. And newbie triathletes will no longer have a local source to help them with technical advice.”
In addition to selling many top brands of triathlon bikes and accessories, the shop also offered high-end rentals for people who wanted to compete but didn’t have a bike.
Ironically, Wallesen tells us that the store has been busy since he announced the closure. “Now that things are on sale, people want to shop. Retail isn’t dead, it’s just not on sale.”
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org