Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop on Mode Shift

Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop on Mode Shift

(Achille Bianchi, originally published at Mode Shift, republished with permission, Ferndale 115 News, May 1, 2012 ed.)

Ferndale, Mich.—The Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop is not very big – at all. Situated right in downtown Ferndale, just west of Woodward on 9 Mile Rd., the storefront is narrow. When you walk in, however, it’s floor to ceiling, front to back: bicycles.

It would be fair to say owner Jon Hughes hasn’t wasted much space.

Hughes, the 28-year-old descendent of a family of bike-shop owners, doesn’t need the space. He would rather fix your bike, he says, than sell you a new one — he doesn’t need a huge store.

“Other bike shops don’t want to work on bikes – they want you to buy a new bike,” he said. “They’re kind of all bike stores. We’re a bike shop – we do a ton of repairs. I think it’s super important to get bikes fixed real quick, and to make sure it’s done right.”

He’s also appealing to a slightly different crowd than what the traditional bike shop might attract.

“One of the big things we do that pretty much none of the other shops do is a lot of fixed gear stuff,” he said. “We’re the only place that stocks any fixed gears.” That’s not to make his customers feel intimidated, however — Hughes can get his customers anything from beach cruisers and kids’ bikes to top-end road and mountain bikes, all with a two-day turnaround.

And, despite its modest size, business has been great. “We’re the only shop in Ferndale and we’re just different …. It’s crazy how good business has been,” Hughes said.

Family Heirloom: Entrepreneurship

Hughes comes from a long line of bike-shop entrepreneurs. His grandfather owned and operated the first incarnation of Continental Bike Shop in 1937, and his parents were shop owners as well. “My grandpa pretty much owned or at least helped start all the bike shops in the area,” Hughes said.

Hughes and his father Dale have also built velodromes in China, Qatar, Sri Lanka and Korea. They built the state-of-the-art 1996 Olympic track in Atlanta and the track that sits right here in Rochester, Mich., at Bloomer Park.

Hughes’s love for fixed gear bikes likely stems from his experience building tracks and his time spent as a top-10, nation-wide competitor in the road and track-riding disciplines. The Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop currently sponsors road and track riders, bicycle-related events and businesses, and helps support some national teams as well.

Fueling momentum

As a small shop, Hughes employs six people during summer, the peak time for bicycle riding in Michigan, and two in the winter. He says everyone who works at his shop is a big-time cyclist – from state champions to commuters and BMXers; they all ride.

Employees of the shop host group rides in the summer months and will escort riders to participate in the monthly Critical Mass ride. Hughes doesn’t want to host Critical Mass, however, because says he doesn’t get into much of the advocacy aspect of biking. He cites the lack of time, and care, for the politics of it all.

Hughes keeps the cycling momentum moving forward in winter months by hosting events like roller sprints, which are indoor races between two riders using stationary bicycles, at various drinking establishments in and around the Detroit area. Rides like these help keep riders enthusiastic about cycling and offers an outlet for staying in shape and having fun.

Bottom line, Hughes says, “just ride your bike. If it’s a bike from us, cool, if not, we’d be happy to fix it, and if not even that, we’re just happy to see people ride. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point of it?”

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Achille Bianchi is the community manager for Mode Shift: Move Together and has been living and working in the city of Detroit for eight years as a journalist, photographer and social entrepreneur. He is an active cyclist and placemaking advocate as well as a member of OMNICORPDETROIT in Eastern Market.

Powered by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Mode Shift offers valuable news and information on topics ranging from urban planning and public health, to street design, biking safety, social equality issues, and transportation legislation, while providing a Take Action Toolkit that allows site visitors and members to directly connect with each other and take specific actions to impact the communities in which they live.

The site offers stories written by its own team of journalists and local bloggers, and provides a conduit for members of the community who join the site to tell their stories. This story is used with their permission.  Please visit their website for more moving stories – http://wearemodeshift.org.

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