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Southeast Division bike shop ‘A Better Cycle’ will close next month


(Photo: A Better Cycle)

A neighborhood bike shop in the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood will close its doors next month after over a decade in business. Owners of A Better Cycle announced their decision last week.

Six original co-owners in 2007: Aaron Truman, Tim Weeks, Clinton Garner, Ian Mitchell, Rachel Dominguez-Benner, and Ben “Sauce” Applebaum.
(Photo: A Better Cycle)

“We are so proud of our time here as your local, neighborhood bike shop,” the announcement states on the shop’s website. “Thank you all so much for the opportunity to live and work the way we wanted to for over a decade! We love you all.”

The small shop at 2324 SE Division opened in 2007 when six friends came together to share ownership. The shop has remained worker-owned and has been run as a collective ever since.

Christine Dakis is one of the shop’s workers. She told us the decision ultimately came down to money. “The last few years haven’t been great financially, and we (and most other bike shops we talk to) have been doing less and less business (money-wise) every year,” she shared. “It is down to the point where we can’t really cut costs any more and think it is time to close up before we can’t get out of the hole.”

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Dakis added that in addition to the financial pinch, it was just time to move on. She pointed to the “vast” neighborhood change in the past decade. This part of southeast has seen transformational commercial and residential real estate development, with thousands of new residents looking for a slice of the famous (or infamous, depending on your values) Portland lifestyle. Unfortunately for Dakis and her fellow workers, that lifestyle didn’t include shopping at a place like A Better Cycle. “It seems there aren’t as many people nearby looking for the kind of business that we are,” she said.

“It seems like our core customers are slowly being driven away from here. The weird side of Portland is getting smaller and smaller.”
— Christine Dakis, co-owner/worker

“It feels like there are more and more people moving here, but that they are moving here with cars, and either prefer online shopping or big shop convenience, which doesn’t bode well for us,” Dakis added. “Even with folks we do know — it is hard not to go for what are, or may seem like, better deals online or elsewhere when you are squeezed between rising rents and stagnating wages with increasing costs for healthcare.”

Since A Better Cycle has been open, inner southeast Portland has experienced an exodus of sorts. A place that used to house many lower-income activists, artists, and entrepreneurs has lost its affordability. People have moved further north and east, or even out of the city altogether.

“It seems like our core customers are slowly being driven away from here,” is how Dakis put it. “The weird side of Portland is getting smaller and smaller.”

As for the future of the shop, the plan is to continue taking service orders until May 1st. All new stock is currently 20% off and you can expect deeper discounts as the days go by. Dakis says if you’re looking for cool older frames and parts, new rims and hubs (that were stocked for wheelbuilding), and other bike shop supplies, roll on over and take a look. The shop is expected to close sometime next month.

Thank you Christine and all the workers at A Better Cycle for all your service and dedication to our community over the years!

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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