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Recently we got in touch with Staci May at Earl’s Bike Shop in Bellingham Washington. She and Craig Earl have been serving the cycling community there, “Doing Whatever It Takes” to keep people rolling, since 2010. Staci was kind enough to take some time to answer our interview questions while reorganizing the entire shop for better flow and a better customer experience (pictures below).
Q: Your shop opened in 2010. What were you doing before that and why did you make the leap into opening a bike shop?
A: Craig was unemployed from another bike shop and wanted to stay in the area with me. I was working for the local newspaper in online advertising sales. Really, Craig’s been in bike shops forever. He found the space and I helped put together the business plan.
Q: Your website asks people to pick your brains for bike commuting, touring, and trail riding. What are some of your favorite rides in the area?
A: Bellingham is a great area for bike commuting. We give all sorts of route suggestions to get around car free. Trail riding is easy, we all ride mtb and there are over 60 miles of single track right here in town. We usually ask people what kind of riding they are looking for and point them in a direction.
Q: What’s the cycling culture like in Bellingham? What kinds of cycling do the folks in your shop enjoy?
A: Right now in Bellingham the only type of cycling NOT happening is trials! We have an outdoor BMX track, mountain biking in town, expanding miles of bike lanes (which some are actually protected!) a great cyclocross series, some bike polo, and commuting. As far as our shop is concerned, the staff are all mountain bikers who commute as well. The customers do a little of everything. I guess we are kind of known around town as the commuter shop and we are totally stoked about that designation.
Q: We really like the idea of the Trade Up program you have for kids bikes. How has that been going so far? Can you give us the simple rundown for it?
A: I wish I could take total credit for that program, but I actually borrowed it from the ski industry. Over the last few years it has worked pretty well. The basic gist is that a parent can buy their child a bike that fits right now and not worry about them growing out of it and spending extra dollars for another in 6 months. Then there is a used bike for another child that is about what a “mart” bike costs but is WAY better. It’s pretty simple. If the child outgrows the bike in 1 year they get 50% of the purchase price toward the next wheel size. If it takes 2 years it is 30% and 3 years is 20%.
Q: As far as cycling infrastructure in your city goes, how bike-friendly would you say the roads are currently? Is there a strong cycling advocacy culture in Bellingham?
A: We are lucky that our city is really into bike/ped infrastructure and working to make it easier to ride/walk than drive a car. The city had a campaign not too long ago with the slogan “Ride like you drive, drive like you ride” which is how it should be. Our city council and city planners are commuters so I think that helps quite a bit.
Q: Your site describes your shop as a full service repair facility, and then mentions an Odd Golf Cart. What’s the story there?
A: Plenty of retirees here in Bellingham. We have fixed golf carts and walkers!
Q: Washington can be pretty rainy much of the year. For the not so fair weather cyclists, do you have any favorite or essential rain gear?
A: We always suggest fenders. I have a love affair with Bar Mitts too, especially this time of year! Oh, it gets dark early here too so lights, lights, lights…Monkeylights!
Q: Is there is anything else you would like people to know about your shop or cycling organizations/events in or around Bellingham?
A: We do try to ride the ride. We do actually Do Whatever It Takes to keep people on bikes. As far as the community and city, we support Whatcom Smart Trips and the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition. Recreation is a big part of Bellingham and we support any recreation
We want to thank Staci for taking time to connect and talk to us about bike life in Bellingham, which seems like a great town for cycling. If you’re in the area and looking for friendly cycling advice or service, make sure to check out Earl’s Bike Shop.
Here’s their contact information:
Earl’s Bike Shop
2827 Meridian St.
Bellingham, WA 98225