Those who read this blog know that I’m a fervent supporter of Local Bike Shops, and that wherever possible, I buy locally.
I’m sharing this news with a heart that is both heavy, and happy. It’s both broken and open.
Tobie’s post over at NCC does a better job of describing what’s ahead than I can. Tobie is a very good, very close, personal friend of mine. He’s in that inner sanctum of brothers from other mothers. I am indescribably excited for the next chapter in his life, as I’ve been indescribably happy to see his growth over the past six or so years that I’ve known him. For me, the past six years have been full of change, of growth, of sickness and health. Of finding myself, and finding who I’m not. Tobie has been a vanguard in my journey of self-discovery, and a trusted friend and confidant. I will miss having him at the shop, and I’m not going to go into it beyond that, because my feelings aren’t capable of being transcribed into a blog.
I met Tobie at NCC. I wanted to check out the Big Dummy that they had in the window, when I was driving by. That was a long time ago. Through Tobie and NCC, I met Chad, Jeff, Paul, Aaron, Brendan, other Chad, Beth, Ross, Lenny, Mike, Jeff…I could keep going. The list goes on and on. I met the people who have formed the core of my non-family relationships. I met my best friends. (Heck, it also formed the basis of many of my e-friendships, like Eric, and Chris, and all of the other keyboard commandos out there).
But let me say something else, here. North Central Cyclery has developed into something more than the sum of its parts. There is a culture, an ethic, a group of workers and riders, and a brand, that are incredible. This is an amazing opportunity for someone–someone to come in and take ownership of the shop–work with the amazing staff that they have (including a crew who are ready to assume all of Tobie’s managerial duties–or as much of those as the owner wishes to delegate). Someone to work with the dedicated riders and community members who support the shop. I don’t benefit from the sale of the shop in any way–I’m not an owner or employee. But I am incredibly hopeful that the torch which has been carried thus far will be picked up and carried forward, by someone who has the same vision and integrity that Tobie has.
North Central Cyclery has a bright future, with the right leadership at the helm. This is an unusual transaction, as the shop isn’t being sold because of death, or because of failure, or because of downturn. The shop is on a steady, progressive growth trend that has the potential to continue indefinitely. It has a name and a market that defy its location and size. It has people from Michigan to Maine to California that order bikes from there, notwithstanding the fact that they don’t sell online. It has a dedicated, national core of customers.
From time to time, I list something on here that I’m selling, or I’ll link to something that a friend is selling. That time has come again, today. This is the opportunity that someone has been waiting for. I want to continue to be a part of a successful organization in our community. I want to continue to patronize a local business, and to send my friends and neighbors there. I want you–whoever you are–to find this opportunity and grasp it. And so I share this, mindful of the fact that it signals a transition where my LBS manager will no longer be one of my best friends. But you know what? Six years ago, I didn’t know Tobie at all. He was the kind of quiet guy with the earring, at the bike shop that had the weird bike in the window, who kept telling me I could test ride the bike whenever I wanted. He never pushed me to buy. It seemed like an awkward, and unprofitable business model. And it’s carried the shop so far. So. Far. Someone needs to come and be the next chapter.