If you’re one of the hundreds of people who bike down Market Street at rush hour, you may have noticed a tiny bike repair station peeking out of an old newspaper sales hut on mid-Market.
Every morning Zack Stender and his friends are wrenching on commuter’s bikes from this green metal booth, offering free services, like filling tires, lubing chains, adjusting brakes. And as of tomorrow—they’re doing something even bigger: Opening a bike shop. Huckleberry Bicycles officially opens its doors this Friday at 1073 Market Street.
“We’re community minded and wanted to open a bike shop that was welcoming and not intimidating,” says Stender, one of three owners of the new, beautifully designed shop. "Our motto is bikes are for people.”
Huckleberry offers an impressive fleet of bikes for all kinds of people—roadies, crosses riders, and city commuters. They’re the first local shop to carry Public Bikes outside of Public’s South Park home base, and their array of hip urban bike gear caters to the commuter crowd who make their way in mass down the protected green bikeways of Market St.
But securing this spot on a strip with countless vacant storefronts was surprisingly difficult. “No one would give us a lease,” says Stender. “It was so strange. All these buildings were sitting empty and we couldn’t even get a meeting to talk to the landlords. I think the landlords were just holding out to sell the buildings once this area blows up.”
The Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development came to their rescue. The OEWD understood that with more and more people are riding bikes (a 58% increase in the last four years), bike sales and repairs are a growing industry. In short, a nice bike shop would do this stretch well. On Tuesday, Stender joined Mayor Lee and Supervisor Kim on a bike ride through Market Street, riding past his shop on the way to the opening of Pearl’s Burgers on 6th and Market.
“We think we’re going to do well even if this area doesn’t change,” says Stender. “We have a good model: experienced staff, great bikes, and a welcoming space to just come and hang out.”
Even with the opening of the shop, they’re still keeping their free repair kiosk. If you have a flat tire or need a tune up on your way to work, Stender wants you to know: “I’m your Huckleberry.”
Kristin Smith started riding bikes at 3-years-old and hasn't stopped since then. A long time rider, racer and commuter, Kristin has spent the last five years writing about San Francisco's active bike culture. She is the newly appointed Communications Director for the SF Bicycle Coalition.