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A neighborhood cyclery

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Flanders Bicycle challenges most bike shop stereotypes. It’s open at 8:30 in the morning, so the average Joe can drop a bike off for a tune-up before work. The intent is to act as a hub for cyclists and friends to gather and promote community. The employees want to provide kind customer service. Also, you’ll be pressed to find a pretentious mechanic on site.

SIMPLY SERVICE :  Jon Richert and Shawn Hafley will smile, ask about your day, and actually mean it. - SIMPLY SERVICE
  • SIMPLY SERVICE
  • SIMPLY SERVICE : Jon Richert and Shawn Hafley will smile, ask about your day, and actually mean it.

Instead, the shop has a homey-grunge feel to it. The mechanic side of the store has a giant fold-out window so customers can stop by and say hey, simply wave, watch their bike getting worked on, or just chat with the mechanic. During the month of July, the shop opens even earlier for people to drink coffee and watch a live stream of the Tour de France.

Owners Jon Richert and Shawn Hafley opened the shop a few weeks ago. The duo met while working at Go For It Sports in Atascadero.

“What inspired us to open is that where we were working, we didn’t feel that people were being treated fairly. We realized we had a lot of the same ideas and philosophies on how you treat customers,” Hafley revealed. “And it wasn’t about bike shops; it was just about a common customer service mentality. Taking care of people is not an effort; it shouldn’t be a big deal. If you fill their requests and take care of their problems, they’ll be happy. If you care about them, they’ll care about you.”

Nine months later, Flanders Bicycle is a reality. And it’s taking care of customers and creating a space for bicycle lovers to converge, hang out, and celebrate bikes.

When your bike takes a turn for the worse, you can trust shop employees’ weathered hands to get it back on the dirt or road. Richert acts as the shop’s head mechanic. He’s had a total of three jobs ever—all as a bike mechanic. With 14 years of experience as a head mechanic and shop manager for local bike shops, he has a strong reputation and a loyal following of local customers.

He’s soft spoken and humble about this passion, saying simply, “I love it.”

The shop has all of your bike shop staples: tubes, tires, pumps, and bike-maintenance goods, among other things.

“We’ll sell more of the fun stuff as we grow,” Richert said.

Flanders will sell bike-lifestyle goods, from bike emblem hoodies and T-shirts to penny-farthing pizza cutters.

The shop also sells local artisan bike goods, so if you make custom panniers or jerseys, they want to see your work. Currently, they sell handmade bike bags, little girls’ dresses with bikes on them, and other crafty pieces.

In regard to the shop name, no, it’s not a reference to the Simpsons character; it’s a tribute to the unofficial cycle-centric region of Belgium.

“A lot of people that live in that region are just bike fanatics,” Hafley said. “They have a single-day road race classic that’s been happening for 80 to 90 years, and it’s called the Tour of Flanders.”

“It’s on cobblestone or pavé, so it’s a tough race; you have to be a tough rider to win that race,” Hafley continued. “It’s intimate.”

Flanders Bicycle is at 1951 Santa Barbara St. and can be reached at 439-2900 between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Fast facts

The SLO Botanical Garden will be host to a Mediterranean Adventure Camp for kids July 25 to 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Second through sixth-graders are invited to the camp. The campers will get to spend the week outside, creating art projects, hiking, and simply having fun. The camp will provide snacks, but they do ask that each camper bring a bagged lunch. Camp cost is $150 per child. For more details and reservations, call 541-1400, Ext. 304, or e-mail Lindsey at lcollinsworth@slobg.org.

Intern Lauren Cook compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your nonprofit and business news to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

 

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