The Bike Shop
Palms Cycles started in the 1920s as a bike shop in the Los Angeles neighborhood that is now known as Culver City. It moved from Main Street to Motor Avenue around 1930. Originally inhabited as a barbershop and, rumor has it, a once-rowdy pool hall, that all changed when Cap Rancier’s family bought both the bicycle operation and the building itself.
Cap ran it successfully for decades and has a rich history of assembling bikes used for movies and TV. Remember the fanciful cruiser bike seen in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure? Yep, that was built at Palms Cycles. Cap was known for his custom paint jobs and did it for 50 years.
Eventually, Cap retired and was looking for someone to take it over. Andrew Smith, who already runs The Bike Shop of Santa Monica, was looking to expand. Through a little networking, he found Palms Cycles. Smith considered it, but in talking to contractors about what he’d like to do with the shop, he thought the improvements would be too expensive. He wanted to open up the space, repaint it and make it more friendly for consumers in the modern age.
It took a while and some negotiating, but the two struck a deal they both liked. The construction took 2 1/2 months, but the doors finally opened on August 1, 2018. When Andrew tore down the paper covering the windows on opening day, he was shocked to find people already lined up outside the door.
Located just a few miles inland from Santa Monica beach, Culver City has proven to be a vibrant bike community. Between the Sony Pictures studio and a growing list of tech companies moving in, there is no shortage of people looking for some good exercise and commuting opportunities.
In addition to bike sales, the shop has a good reputation for service and is equipped with a hydraulic lift for heavy e-bikes and everything needed to fix anything from flat tires to e-bike motors.
LEARNING TO ADAPT
Smith knows that with the increasing number of bike companies now selling direct to consumer, bike shops are increasingly being cut out of the sales process, so he’s proactively contacting these companies and has now set up contracts to have the bikes sent to the shop where they’re assembled for a fee, then the customer can come in or it can be delivered.
This works in a couple of ways: first, the shop isn’t billed any shipping fees, nor do they have to carry inventory for this. It’s simply labor fees, plus usually some extra sales of helmets, locks, etc.
The shop does have plenty of inventory, carrying everything from less expensive e-bike brands like E-Lux, e-JOE, Civi and Addmotor, to higher-end brands like Bulls, Tern, Norco and Stromer. The brands he carries change over time as customers’ tastes do.
PART OF THE COMMUNITY
The shop is very involved in the community. When CicLAvia, a Los Angeles street festival that closes streets to automotive traffic and opens them only to bicycles, came to the area around The Bike Shop, they opened their doors, had display bikes and even gave away a couple of e-bikes.
With their place in local history firm, The Bike Shop is now looking forward to the role they can play in providing both assist and non-assist bikes for future cyclists to enjoy.
The Bike Shop
3770 Motor Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90034
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