VOL. 133 | NO. 137 | Wednesday, July 11, 2018
By Patrick Lantrip
They say everything comes full circle. Especially when it comes to bicycles. So it seems fitting that even though the Bikesmith is changing ownership, its business model is shifting back to its beginnings – its mobile operations. The Bikesmith started as part of the MEMMobile program in 2014, which was a small-business incubator designed to launch a fleet of mobile retail trucks.
Owner Jim Steffen’s roaming repair truck did well enough to support its own brick-and-mortar shop in a former Binghampton mechanic’s garage at 509 N. Hollywood St., which he’s been operating out of since 2015.
Now with thoughts of new adventures on his mind, Steffen has decided to sell the business to longtime mechanic Landon Blankenship.
Landon Blankenship (and his shop dog Soul) will be taking over The Bikesmith from longtime employer Jim Steffen. Blankenship plans on closing The Bikesmith’s Binghampton shop to focus on the company’s mobile repair service. (Jim Steffen/Submitted)
“We love The Bikesmith, but my wife and I are heading on to new adventures, so we’re super excited that Landon has taken over the truck and will keep it rolling in Memphis,” Steffen said. “He has been an awesome mechanic to work with and he fit right in with the whole idea behind The Bikesmith, which is to provide good, honest service to folks.”
Blankenship’s first order of business at The Bikesmith will be to close the company’s brick-and-mortar shop, and focus his attention exclusively on the mobile operations. The shop will close on July 21.
“I’m starting the same way Jim did, with just the truck, so we’re going to go back to focusing on the mobile service,” Blankenship said. “We found that we make more money doing service on bikes.”
Blankenship said one of his goals is to resurface eventually with another brick-and-mortar shop, perhaps in the area surrounding the Crosstown Concourse. But for now, the first-time business owner wants to focus on what he knows best.
“We’re not focusing on selling bikes and the retail. We’re more focused on the service and getting people riding their bikes,” he said. “That was our whole mission with the shop, too – to have a cool place to hang out while you get your bike serviced, but we’ve found that people like having their bikes serviced a lot more at their house.”
The self-described bike-obsessed mechanic’s love for riding began in college when he commuted everywhere he could.
“I made it a goal to commute as much as possible,” Blankenship said. “One year, I commuted to work every day for an entire year, whether it was raining or snowing.”
His obsession and mechanical skills took another step forward when he began to play bike polo because “bikes are constantly breaking when you’re playing bike polo,” he said.
“I probably have 10 bikes in my house that are mine, and they are all differently purposed bikes,” he said. “I think I’m just obsessed with bikes, and that’s really what it comes down to.”
Blankenship said he and Steffen have been extremely busy with the switch over. By the end of the month, Blankenship said, he hopes to have a more firm schedule of where the mobile repair shop will be located and on what days. He will share the shop’s whereabouts via The Bikesmith’s website and social media.
“I’ve worked in a lot of bike shops and I’ve seen how they are run,” Blankenship said. “I have confidence that I can run a bike shop, but I’ve never been a business owner before, so this is my way of jumping in.”