Coast In Bikes contributes to a healthier Milwaukee
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Bicycling is an environmentally friendly and healthy way to get from point A to point B. Plus, it's affordable, healthy and, most would agree, fun.
However, even though more and more Milwaukeeans are getting into bicycling, some neighborhoods still lack bicycle shops. Surprisingly, trend-setting Walker's Point was without this service until last April when Carolyn Weber and Tristan Klein opened Coast In Bikes, a bicycle retail and repair shop in the former Bucketworks building at 700 S. 5th St.
On Dec. 1, Coast In moved into the former Gay Arts Center, 703 S. 2nd St., and the owners find it to be a better fit for their business goals.
"Our old space was a wonderful start to our first summer being open; however, it quickly presented challenges in not having enough space, windows and the room we needed to expand the bike shop," says Weber. "We always had the vision of having a coffee shop within the bike shop and the old space couldn't accommodate both businesses."
The new space will house the bike shop, a DIY repair area as well as a coffee shop in the back. Although Coast In is currently open for business, they are focusing on a grand opening in spring.
The new space also allows the owners to offer more cargo bicycles, clothing and used parts. And it provides higher visibility.
"We are on the main commuter path and already have seen an increase in foot traffic," says Weber. "We will soon have a larger sign that we'll share with the bar next to us in the same building."
The space is open and attractive with cream city brick, original plank floor boards, natural light and a vintage steel sliding door.
"We quickly have grown to enjoy being on 2nd Street. The business owners work well together here and network to help each other succeed," says Weber.
Currently, Weber and Klein are working on creating more bicycle parking on the block, possibly in front of Sabbatic, 700 S. 2nd St. Weber says they might start a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project.
Weber and Klein hired a couple of employees last summer to help out and plan to hire more employees in the future. "I'm proud to still be the only woman co-owner of a bike shop in the city of Milwaukee but hope that many more will follow," says Weber.
Coast In offers repair services, rentals, new and used bike sales and mechanic classes on Sundays for women and Mondays for anyone. They have a special focus on cargo bicycles, commuter bicycles and mountain / trail bikes as well.
"We will also have a bike shower for cyclists to bring their bike in for a small fee to wash their winter or muddy bikes all year," says Weber.
The cafe – although under construction – serves Valentine Coffee and Rishi Tea and later this summer will offer espresso drinks, sandwiches and soup. It will also eventually have a name of its own, too.
One of the most important aspects of the business for Weber and Klein is that it feels like and functions as a community-driven bike shop. This means the owners want people to feel comfortable stopping by to hang out as well as shop, network, learn and repair.
Weber says she was inspired by other bicycle shops with this vibe such as Red Lantern in Brooklyn, Heritage Cycles in Chicago and Angry Catfish in Minneapolis. All of these bike shops have cafes and a few are also a bar.
"We hope that cyclists will find Coast In Bikes a place to hang out, plan events and meet up with other groups," says Weber. "Already I'm planning a series of fireside chats in the coffee shop on a variety of bicycling topics from bicycle safety to bike fitting."
Coast In has a variety of upcoming events, including Crafticle, a winter cycling DIY craft event, which takes place Sunday, Jan. 26 from 2 to 6 p.m. at Stone Creek in the 88.9 building. At Crafticle, attendees can make rice hand warmers, sew reflective material onto their clothing and accessories, learn about bicycle safety and more.
So far, business has been great at both Walker's Point locations. The neighborhood has many cyclists who wanted a local shop and the central location draws customers from surrounding neighborhoods as well.
"We've really enjoyed developing the bike shop" says Weber. "As small business owners we appreciate every customer and hope to get more people riding year round – even in the super cold weather."
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