Downtown St. Johns has been without a bike shop for a few months since Weir’s Cyclery moved out of the neighborhood at at the end of last year (they’re now located on N Lombard at Portsmouth) That didn’t seem right to resident Ben Helgren, so he’s decided to take matters into his own hands. Ben plans to open a new bike shop, Block Bikes, on March 9th that he hopes will become the go-to place for bike riders in St. Johns.
Ben, 35, has worked in non-profits for the past nine years (on programs promoting financial literacy and home-buying skills) but he has wanted a job in the bike industry for a while now. He became a certified bicycle mechanic through the United Bicycle Institute last fall and he and his wife planned to move to Billings, Montana where she planned to go to school and Ben planned to work at a bike shop. But plans changed, explained Ben during a phone call this morning.
“When we heard Weir’s moved and got a new owner, we realized our neighborhood doesn’t have a bike shop in it… So we just kind of ran with that.”
Ben says his wife now plans to attend school at Pacific University in Forest Grove while he maintains his existing non-profit job and gets Block Bikes up and running. The shop is set to open on Saturday March 9th and will have weekend hours only until May (which is when Ben will begin working in the shop full-time).
(Photo: Block Bikes on Facebook)
Ben says the shop’s location at 7238 N Burlington Ave — right on the corner of N Ivanhoe and Philadelphia — is “an ideal space.” It’s just a block away from the St. Johns Bridge, which is a gateway to riding in the West Hills, Sauvie Island, and beyond; and it’s smack dab in the heart of downtown St. Johns. Ben said he feels it’s important for St. Johns to have its own bike shop so that people don’t have to travel far to get parts and service. And he thinks a bike shop will help keep the far north neighborhood, “Integrated with the rest of the city.”
The shop will start off with a small selection of basic, singlespeed road bikes and city cruisers, perfect for tooling around St. Johns streets. Ben hopes the shop is a place that appeals to everyone. “The biggest thing I want is for everybody who walks in to feel like it’s a welcoming place and like they won’t be judged for what type of bike they have.”