R.I.P. to a Wheel One

This post on the Ann Arbor Townies group, observing the recent closure of Great Lakes Cycle on Stadium Boulevard, put me down a little AADL Community Collections rabbit hole trying to remember all the old bike places in town.

Michael Staebler’s Coal Office and Bicycle Shop

This one was the earliest, I think, on Washington Street near Ashley.

Michael Staebler’s Coal Office and Bicycle Shop.” (C) The Bentley Historical Library.

Though named for its founder, German-American investor and Ann Arborite Michael Staebler, it was apparently actually run by his son Edward. I’m very curious about what this store’s net carbon footprint was.

Ann Arbor Cyclery

More familiar to some is Ann Arbor Cyclery, which was a fixture for decades on Packard Road.

“Ann Arbor Cyclery, 1972.” AADL (CC: BY-NC-SA)

Sometime after the above photo was taken, it moved up the street to its final location, a site which had previously been a grocery and a pet supply store. A combination of new local competition from the REI store at Cranbrook and possible tax trouble led to its closure in 2010ish. Today it’s the Packard location of Argus Farm Stop.

Campus Bike & Toy

“Saguaro Succulent Shop, 1976.” AADL (CC BY-NC-SA).

Campus Bike & Toy was another downtown fixture. It shared its William Street location with a variety of other interesting businesses over the years, including an early version of Schoolkids Records. Later, its site was the last retail location of David’s Books before they went online-only, and today it’s Asian Legend restaurant.

Nobilette Cycle Cellar

Nobilette Cycle Cellar ad, April 1988. Agenda Publications (CC BY-NC-SA)

On the north side of downtown, Nobilette Cycle Cellar served the athletic bicyclist. The ad above was one of their last anniversaries on North Main Street. Within a couple of years they had moved downhill to 220 Felch Street, which is today the site of Ann Arbor Distilling Company.

South of Downtown but also not far off Main Street was…

Mike Kolin’s Cycling Center Inc.

I can’t tell you much about Mike Kolin’s that these photos don’t already tell you, except that it was in the east storefront of the little building on the Hoover block that is just about the only thing not owned by a utility or the University. Soon its neighbor Purchase Radio Supply’s old building will be history. An apartment building is planned for the site; it will cater to students who love locomotive horns.

Stadium Bike

Don’t know anything about this place either, but I love the aesthetic. This site is currently occupied by McDonald’s.

Also Worth Noting

I don’t know much about any of these beyond the photos but it’s intriguing to see so many bike shops in locations I tend to associate with car traffic.

More recently we saw a few stores close:

Two Wheel Tango, with stores on the west side and east side. Closed suddenly, apparently due to pressure from its main brand and costs incurred by expanding at the beginning of the Great Recession. The west-side store is a physical therapy clinic now; the east side is occupied by Fraser Bicycle, a Detroit-area bike chain.

Performance Bicycle, a regional chain and mail-order catalog that had expanded to our area relatively recently, began a complete wind-down under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, including all its physical locations and its website. Its IP was purchased at auction in February, and the site is back online under new ownership but with no relation to the physical locations.

Midwest Bike and Tandem, on Plymouth Road in the Courtyard Shops. Moved to Brighton.

Great Lakes Cycle was up and down Stadium Boulevard over the years – in Boulevard Plaza (in back behind the Arbor Farms/Barnes Ace Hardware), later in the old Ace Hardware space (most recently Advance Auto Parts), most recently in a spot close to the road between Liberty and Jackson Road. That location has closed. Oscar, the owner, sold his inventory to another local specialty chain, D&D Bicycles & Hockey, who shares retail space on Jackson Road with Sun & Snow outfitters; the space, once the very first location of national tire chain Discount Tire Company, will be occupied soon by the Wags & Wiskers pet supply store.

Besides D&D, there are a number of local stores still going strong. Presented in no particular order:

I’ll add other Ann Arbor ones if they occur to me or I am corrected (I will be corrected). There are great bike stores in other nearby cities too, but it’s almost 11pm, I’ve been working on this for hours, and the name of the site is A2 Retail dot Space. Thank you.

2 Replies to “R.I.P. to a Wheel One”

  1. In the early 2000s, in addition to the big Packard store and before the Jackson Road location, Two Wheel Tango had a location on Hoover (where the dance studio is now — I think Two Wheel was just in half the building).

    1. Huh, no kidding! That was before I moved back to town. That building on Hoover has a real history with bikes. That helps explain the massive wooden ramp from the side door to the sidewalk.

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