Metropolis Cycles bike shop has used pop-up stores to build a name for itself as it waits for a permanent home.
A permanent site is expected to be up and running on Kercheval by the end of the biking season. For now, it is in a pop-up at 1811 Parker Street next to Sister Pie in West Village.
“We opened Metropolis Cycles because we wanted to be able to provide high-level service and bike sales in a professional and accessible environment,” says Shayne O’Keefe, one of the founders and a co-owner. “With Detroit uniquely positioned as the nation’s largest expanding cycling market, we are happy to be able to provide our same high-level of service and products in a new location more convenient to our eastside riders.”
O’Keefe spent six to seven years working as both a volunteer and employee at The Hub Detroit, which is one of the city’s epicenters for bike culture. He noticed how large the biking culture in Detroit has become and wanted to be part of it.
He and some colleagues decided to open a bike shop of their own and set off with a motto of “friendly.”
The goal was to make the shop friendly and helpful to anyone who walked in, whether he or she was a lifelong cyclist or a virgin to the community of two-wheeled urban travelers.
The shop’s “full-service” focuses on maintenance and accessories for bikes, both old and new. It is open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, and has total repair and retail offerings, focusing on maintenance and accessories for everyday bicycling, as well as new and used bikes.
Opposed to just a quick fix, Metropolis Cycles strives to connect with its patrons. When someone comes in with a broken bike, they sit down and explain all the options in plain English, and every step is discussed.
They also make sure that they know the customers’ needs. For instance, if they ride their bike to work every day what they really need to be concerned about is longevity.
The goal is to educate riders so they can know what they require and make the right decisions in the long term.
O’Keefe and his colleagues even keep the friendliness alive with the competition. Metropolis and its competitors meet up and have friendly shop talk at local bike events.
While the word Metropolis wants to stress may be friendly, the one that describes them is really community. The bike world is tight and reputation matters.
The best tool they have, aside from the ones that fix the bikes, is word of mouth and they know it.
The owners makes sure to have a presence at the big bike events in the city (at races for example), but they also hold their own events. They hold scavenger hunt races where cyclists show up and go through the designated area and find specified items.
Speed does not determine the winner. Creativity and cleverness are the deciders. As a result, professional bike racers have come in far from the winners circle.
Along with fun, bike-based events, Metropolis Cycles mixes in a party scene, which includes a cook out, dance music and rock music. Before anyone knows it, they are part of the scene.
The shop also becomes part of the neighborhood community where they have set up their pop-ups.
Metropolis Cycles is on its second pop-up location. It was in Corktown last year. Many people take their bikes to work in those areas – one of the reasons West Village chosen for a pop-up this year. Both are good places for Metropolis Bikes to do business and talk with customers about their shared interest.
West Village is also close to Belle Isle, which gets a lot of bike traffic and that brings in more customers.
In addition, Corktown and West Village are three and four miles away from any other bike shops so no one’s turf is threatened.
Metropolis Cycles also offers a 20 percent discount for those working in the service industry, such as waitresses, porters, and bartenders. While they don’t have to be from the neighborhood to qualify, there are many food shops and restaurants around and that doesn’t hurt.
Then there are the regulars, those who come in multiple times a week, every month, and every year. Others just stop by just to chat, others are all business and are often looking for specific help.
One common ask is for a stick. For the uninitiated, jamming a stick in the chain can force a higher gear.
In another case, a guy who brought in a bike covered in duct tape for repairs. As O’Keefe peeled off the duct tape he discovered a homemade holder for a machete he says was clearly homemade … from a lawnmower blade. The man told him it was for protection.
No matter what’s needed, O’Keefe’s advice to anyone is simply, “ride your bike.”
Editor’s Note: This small business feature is sponsored by Bank of America. To learn more about Bank of America’s many programs and resources for small business owners visit: https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/business-financing.go.