When Jim Steffen started fixing bicycles in the back of his Bikesmith truck, he noticed that many cyclists liked to stick around and watch the repair process. Now, they can watch the repairs and drink beer at the same time, and all in the comfort of a brick-and-mortar shop.
Steffen has expanded his mobile repair business into a shop on Hollywood, right in the heart of the Broad Avenue Arts District. In the new shop, customers can sip craft beers while they wait.
For years, Steffen's Bikesmith truck, a converted freight truck, has been serving people in neighborhoods without bike shops. But the business' growth over the past year warranted a new shop for Steffen, who got his start fixing bikes with the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy's bike rental program.
With his Bikesmith truck, Steffen has been able to serve cyclists as far east as Collierville and in some locations in Mississippi.
- A look inside the Bikesmith shop
"For some people, going to a bike shop can be a little intimidating," Steffen said. "I think people get nervous when they go to a bike shop if they don't know bikes. They just want it to work. I think having the truck took some of that anxiety out of people. A lot of people wanted to come on the truck and see what I was doing."
Steffen says he'll continue to operate his mobile business, but customers can also visit his brick-and-mortar shop. The new shop is in a renovated automotive garage, complete with repair racks and a bar. There's also a patio and some green space in the back, which Steffen is considering adapting into a bike polo court or a "pump track," a looping trail system for mountain bikes.
Visitors are invited to ask questions about their bikes and chat while their machinery is being worked on, and they can enjoy beers and sodas while they wait.
"With our repair stands, we have this bar with stools there," he said. "When David [Evans] and I are working on your bike, you can sit there and watch us work on your bike. We wanted to have everything out in front so you can see it. We wanted to make it more than just a bike shop."
Steffen and his wife have a history with Broad Avenue: They volunteered on the street when it was going through the city's MEMFix revitalization program, and they participated in art walks.
With the implementation of the Hampline bike path along Broad, Steffen said the arts district seemed like an obvious choice.
"It's really easy for people to get their bikes down here," Steffen said. "It's really close to [Overton Park]. You have the Hampline. We wanted to have a place where people can bike to the shop. I don't think there's another place in town that would be as perfect as this building is."
At the Bikesmith shop, visitors can also purchase their own bicycles and bike accessories.
The shop is celebrating its grand opening on December 6th with food, beer, and a raffle giveaway for a kid's bike.