It’s a new year, and time is not being kind to brick-and-mortar bike shops.
Bike Portland has reported that two bike shops plus a bike cafe are closing this month: Breadwinner Cafe, Norther Cycles, and Rivelo. The first two closings are sad, but don’t hold that much personal meaning to me: I wasn’t excited by the space and the selection at the Breadwinner Cafe, so it was never going to become a “hang-out” to me like Velo Cult was.* And since Norther’s concentration was on French randonneuring style bikes and accessories, I rarely visited it.**
But Rivelo closing? That stings.
Rivelo has been the local outlet of Rivendell Bicycle Works goods, Bob Dylan records, and other cool things since it opened in 2015. I’ve visited it regularly, whether for special events, regular purchases, or just to shoot the shit with John. It was really useful for getting Rivendell catalog items without waiting for it to arrive or pay for the shipping.
Besides all that, I had a Bike Touring Workshop at Rivelo last year, and John and Darby (John’s wife) hired me to design a Rivelo bandana a few years back. I’ve also started rides at Rivelo or featured them as a stop. So, the connection is a bit more personal.
I understand why John is closing up Rivelo: The shop itself never made a lot of cash, he’s tired of bike retail (he was General Manager at Rivendell before moving to Portland), and he wants to move on to other things, like work on their rental property. But it’s still sad, another part of Portland’s bike culture is going away. Like the closures of Velo Cult and A Better Cycle in 2018 and 2019, respectively, another bike biz that I did a lot of biz with (and had a personal connection to) is lost.
Still, there are plenty of good shops in town, so all is not lost. North Portland Bike Works, the shop I have the longest personal connection to, will be celebrating 18 years this year. Geoff will be holding down the fort at Portland Bicycle Emporium. Steve the Cat will be roaming the floor at Cat Six Cycles. And so on.
So if you are in town, pay a visit to Rivelo before it closes. John should be open one final weekend this weekend.
*To be clear, only the cafe is closing at Breadwinner. They’ll still be making awesome bicycles.
**Why no, I don’t have a subscription to Bicycle Quarterly!