Thursday, May 21, 2015

End of the trail

I have decided to cease normal business operations at Hiawatha Cyclery at the end of May, and then tie up loose ends and sell off remaining inventory and other assets during the month of June before the shop disappears for good.

I'm sure that some casual observers will speculate about why this is happening (and I'll be annoyed and/or bemused by the rumors I hear). To tell the truth, I can't identify one singular reason. Lots of life and business events have pushed me in this direction over the past few years, and now it just seems like the right time for me to move onto the next phase of my career, whatever that may be. The neighborhood bike shop business is difficult - don't let anybody tell you different. I've kept HC going almost a decade, even when a sane person would have quit. I'm a bit sad to be giving up my old dream, not to mention a job that I have loved, and I'm extremely proud of the high level of service we provided to our customers over those years. But I'm hopeful and excited for the future and have no regrets.

I want to extend a "thank you" to people who have worked at HC over the years. Kevin helped me get it rolling, and has been a friend and confidant for many years now. Mark started coming in as a customer early on, and convinced me that I should hire him, which is a decision I've never regretted. He is a truly great friend, a master mechanic, and keen observer of the human condition. We also had Bill and Billy and Andy and Weasel pitching in here and there.

I have been fortunate to call many of my customers friends. In fact, my main friend group are people who first were HC customers. Some of them, I will still see regularly, some I will bump into from time to time, but some I may never see again. I will miss all the regulars who came to trust us with their bikes, and rode past other shops to get to HC (and put up with our odd hours) because they felt that we were the only shop who understood their needs. That's the hardest part of this thing: feeling that I'm letting down people who've come to depend on me. But I'm getting over that, too. There are plenty of good shops in town.

We will still be around for a few weeks, so please feel free to stop in and say hello (or goodbye). I will still keep my hiawathacyclery@gmail email if you want to contact me for friendly or business reasons. I may still even keep this blog going.

33 comments:

Doug said...

Wow, I feel a sense of loss hearing this news. I always appreciated your dedication to providing the best service you could, even to a infrequent customer like me living in Duluth. I wish you success in your next endeavor.

HotWater said...

serious bummer. but i get it. HC was a gem in the neighborhood, and will be sorely missed.
-Clay

David Crowell said...

Good luck in future endeavors.

I've never been a HC customer, as I live in Kentucky, but I've followed your blog for years.

Now I have one less reason to consider moving to Minneapolis. :(

Bill Bremner said...

Best of luck Jim!

brother yam said...

I'm sad to see you go -- you sparked my renewed interest in riding by selling me the Rivendell Bleriot. I like the weird and wonderful way your shop fit into my life. My best to you and Mongo in your futures...

Peter Latner said...

Jim--
The bike scene here will be poorer because of this. Wishing you all the best.

Tim Smith said...

Well shit!

Tim Smith said...

Well shit!

Anonymous said...

Great run, Jim, and best of luck in your next gig. I followed you from your OIFS blog to HC and you built and shipped me a dyno wheel in the early days of the shop. The SON hub and spokes are still rolling along after lacing in a new rim this year. -joe/cyclerslife

Andy Beichler said...

What Tim Smith said. Twice.

Pete Saunders said...

Where am I going to locally source banana bunkers and midget porn now?

The Boys of Apartment P. said...

Jim -- sad to hear, but glad you're moving onto whatever is right for you and yours. I was never a frequent customer, and now live several thousand miles away. But you helped me string up my first set of wheels, recut spokes when we measure them wrong, lead me over hills in S. MN and W. Wisconsin. Your shop is what I always hoped a neighborhood bike shop could be. Best of luck on your next adventure.

SurlyButSocial said...

James of the bike - You've always motivated me to increase my miles, and helped me do just that. - Don

Elmer Carlson said...

Jim
Even from across the country I've always appreciated your energy and world view regarding sane bicycle
philosophy and technology. I hope that you will continue your blog informing all of us your life steps and views.
Than you
Elmer Carlson
Vashon Island,Wa.

Calhoun Cycle said...

Congrats on the "moving forward" decision Jim. By no means an easy thing to do.

Bone said...

I hope this means you'll finally have time to resume writing OIFS.

Sean Cleary said...

Jim and Mark, there are simply no two bicycle shop allies that I will miss more than you two. I'm tremendously saddened by this news but trust God's face will shine on you both in your next adventures.

Jason Martin said...

Jim-Sorry to hear that you are moving on. I just checked out your blog thinking that you would have some great commentary on fat bikes, and you delivered.

Though I moved 40 miles west of your shop a couple years ago, I'm grateful for HC. You and Mark hooked me up with my Xtracycle, fit us with a tandem, and were the go to shop for our other regular bike needs. And you introduced me to the exceptional breakfast at the Finnish Bakery on a Saturday morning ride.

You ran a really special shop-honest, caring, local, commuter focused. Best wishes to you with your new endeavor.

Nathan said...

I'm with Tim, Pete, and Bone. Happy trails, as always!

bites said...

Dang it!

Now I'll be back to the mercy of the random fools and goons that inhabit the various "bike shops" around town.

That said, I very much wish you gentlemen the best! Hiawatha was always great and I was very happy to have been a customer.

Many thanks!

Cheers!

Handsome Cycles said...

Congrats Jim - very few people ever get to have their dream job. As Dr. Suess says "don't cry because it's over smile because it happened" All the best to you and yours. Ben & Jesse.

Tim McNamara said...

Hey, Jim, well now that's a piece of news! I'd say I'm sorry to hear it (and I am) but also life keeps moving on to new adventures and that is often a good thing. I am sad that my work hours too often conflicted to be able to pop in to shoot the breeze even when I didn't need any bike stuff. Maybe I'll be able to catch up with you as you're shutting things down and if not then maybe out on a bike ride somewhere. In any event HC provided a unique perspective on bikes that will be sorely missed- you made a niche in a business dominated by plastic and high tech disposable gewgaws, providing bike stuff of lasting value and a lot of fun in the process. That is to be applauded!

And oh yeah your daughter is NINE? Great muppety Odin! I'ma gonna be needing a fatbike wheelchair soon!

Best wishes to you, your family and all the HC stalwarts!

Freewheel said...

Best wishes, Jim! I hope this isn't the last we hear from you.

Ken Hayes said...

Road down to the shop yesterday and found if closed. Bummer. The lady in the "antique" shop told me you'd closed the business, she was sad to see you go, so am I. I suppose I will see you around town, maybe I'll ride St. Paul a bit more. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Gonna miss you guys and the shop; trustworthy, friendly, and reliable not to mention all around great people. My XL fargo will miss the care and attention too. Best wishes.

Liz Opp said...

Well, it's now the end of July and I've just learned about the shop hitting the end of the trail. ...Jim, do you have a recommendation of where I might take my recumbent trike now, a place near your old location, that will give me not just great customer care but also an enthusiastic response to seeing the 3-wheeled beast?

Blessings,
Liz

Zunaed said...

Best Of Luck. Go Ahead! and Keep Doing The Good Work.

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Kenneth W. Barnes said...

I purchased a bronze sculpture "End of the Trail" in 2005 at an auction in New Orleans, LA. Mine is stamped J E Fraser 15/100. Measuring 33" high x 27" wide x 8" diameter. Does this mean that only 100 copies of this sculpture were produced? Being stamped, it must be sanctioned by the estate of Fraser. If so, what is the approximate value today? Thanks, Kenneth W. Barnes

Annie Dolmatch said...

Thank you for your comment. As a matter of policy, the Museum does not verify or appraise works of art. There are professional services that can assist with this type of information; you might try contacting your local university to get a referral in your area.

John W. Miller said...

I am really enjoying this discussion. Have always enjoyed Fraser's "End of the Trail." Appreciate Mr. Gibson's perspective.

Article mentions Fraser began producing bronze reductions in two sizes during 1918. Any idea about the sizes involved? Any images of these two castings? Are there images of other castings which can be attributed to Fraser?

Hope I haven't asked too many questions.