SLO CA bike store, repair shop Flanders Bicycle closes
San Luis Obispo lost another bike shop.
Flanders Bikelocated at 1951 Santa Barbara Ave., Suite D, near the train station, closed July 31 after eight years in business.
News of the store closing comes just days after another San Luis Obispo bike store closed. SLO Bike and Run on Marsh Street closed on Sunday after six years.
Flanders Bicycle owner Shawn Hafley said he had to funnel income into the store from a second full-time job to make ends meet.
He said financial constraints prevented Flanders Bicycle from delivering the quality he expected to customers and paying workers as they deserved.
“I loved everything about this company, especially the service aspect,” Hafley said. “I worked at Boo Boo Records as a manager for over a decade and my mentor there taught me ‘it’s really easy to take care of people and it’s hard to be a jerk .’ It always stuck with me.”
Flanders Bicycle operated as a full-service bicycle shop with on-site mechanics to perform repairs and build custom bikes and wheels. The store also had a variety of bikes for sale in a 750 square foot space that was a converted auto mechanic’s space.
Hafley said the space was designed to encourage customers to hang out and chat without feeling pressured to buy something immediately.
“The idea was to make people feel welcome to come and talk about the bike and hang out,” Hafley said.
Flanders Bicycle’s name was inspired by an annual bicycle race in Flanders, Belgium. Hafley said people also love buying the store’s t-shirts because it reminds them of the character Ned Flanders from “The Simpsons” TV series.
Hafley said the store had seen a slowdown in customer sales due to online competition, but had seen some resurgence in recent years as e-commerce shoppers returned.
“We always had a core of customers who would stay with us no matter what, even if they had to pay $15 more,” Hafley said. “But customers who order parts online and then find them difficult to assemble come and ask us to do so. People then started bypassing the online marketplace and going straight through us for that reason, and that was pretty cool to see.
Ultimately, he said, the cost-to-revenue numbers didn’t add up.
Hafley, a native of San Luis Obispo County, hired by the city of San Luis Obispo as a maintenance worker.
He used some of the earnings from this job to supplement his business, leaving much of the day-to-day duties to staff members Sandy Bohn, a service manager, and Adam Jacinto, a mechanic. Hafley called the two men “great” employees who go off to work at other local bike shops.
Hafley said Flanders Bicycle didn’t make a bumper sale, but the company announced it was closing at its social media followers.
The store’s former home on Santa Barbara Avenue is now empty, and Hafley said he doesn’t know who might move in next or what might happen to the property.
“It’s a bit of a funky place, but we’ll see what the future holds,” Hafley said. “I will miss the community and the employees. They were great.”
This story was originally published August 7, 2019 4:45 a.m.