One week after District Hardware and Bike shuttered for good, another independent D.C. bike shop is closing down.
The Bike Rack, on Q Street Northwest in the Logan Circle neighborhood, announced Friday that it’s going out of business.
“It’s very bittersweet,” said owner Chuck Harney, who opened the store in 2007. “It’s bitter because, you know, we built this from the ground up. The staff I have now has been with me for many years.”
The news comes less than a week after District Hardware and Bike suddenly closed on Small Business Saturday, posting on their website that “things haven’t worked out the way we thought or planned and we are unable to continue operating.”
So what sunk The Bike Rack? Harney said a combination of factors led to his decision to close.
“Back in 2015, we opened a shop in Brookland, and that shop — the foot traffic never came.” That location was closed in June, and left Harney with a large amount of debt. His hope was that the Q Street shop would pick up the slack, but that didn’t happen.
Harney said that was just one factor that left his shop struggling. Changes in retail buying habits led to a drop in bike sales.
“I can’t tell you how many people would come in, and I’d see them come in with their phones, and I knew exactly what they were doing,” said Harney. “They were looking up the product and looking if they could get it cheaper.”
Harney said over the years he saw an increasing number of “internet-bought bikes” brought in for service, though the ability for customers to go online for their bikes wasn’t the only pressure on sales.
“You combine that with a new shared economy, where people are using the scooters and the bikeshare and the Ubers, so the demand for bicycles has gone down tremendously,” He said. Instead of sales, servicing bikes took over as the moneymaker for small shops like his.
But Harney said there is a bright side to the story: Another bike retailer will occupy his store.
Harney wasn’t at liberty to say just who that will be, but he did say he was contacted by a business about two months ago, wondering if he’d ever want to sell. The timing, he said, was right.
So customers won’t lose a bike shop in their neighborhood, but what about the staff? “The staff has been given the opportunity to stay,” said Harney.
Referring to the new buyer, Harney said, “They really want to retain the local culture of the shop.” He may continue to work with the new shop in some capacity as well, he said, including leading community rides.