By Madeline Summers, Community & Outreach Specialist
Lowertown Bike Shop (LBS) is in the Head House of Union Depot station in the Lowertown neighborhood of Saint Paul. They offer a complete range of services from bike tune-ups to overhauls, custom builds to fittings. Flat fixes, adjustments, and quick repairs can usually be taken care of while you wait and are very affordable. They have a vast selection of both new and used bicycles and products for all price ranges. Mississippi Market member-owners receive a 10% discount on all bike accessories and apparel.
LBS started in 2011 in a small basement garage space in the Jax Building, also in Lowertown. They then moved to Union Depot, first to a space behind the restaurant, and now they are in one of the stunning high-ceilinged spaces at the front of the Head House. We recently caught up with Crystal Sursley, one of the owners and operators of the shop, to chat about what is new at the shop.
What is new? Coffee and Tea Service – Love in every cup
Crystal and the team have added a coffee shop and coffee cart to the offerings provided by Lowertown Bike Shop. You will often see them wheeling out the coffee cart for the multitude of happenings at the Depot, like hot chocolate at holiday events and warm drinks for movie screenings.
“Coffee as an added part of the store means we can have a deeper connection with customers as they peruse the store. And we can also be a destination for bike and train riders!”
Why a bike shop?
When asked why a bike shop, Crystal explains that it grew from a deep passion for bikes. “We are committed to building quality bicycles for any budget and riding ability,” Crystal mentions as we sit among both new and used bikes and equipment. Crystal then adds, “And why Lowertown?” as her own question. Crystal describes lovingly the deep community of Lowertown, filled with personality and character. A place where she and her partner Jeremy were embraced as small business owners and community members.
The Lowertown Bike Shop has been around for a while. Shop owners and Murv, the shop greeter, have seen the arrival of the light rail and CHS field to the Lowertown area. Crystal remarks that although the Lowertown area has seen many changes over the years, the heart of the community stays the same.
Deep commitment to the local community and fellow small businesses
You will easily notice the warm greetings from staff as you enter the store. Staff are quick to help explain the intricacies of bike maintenance and help you pick out tires from a 22-foot wall behind the coffee counter. This commitment to connection on the small scale is mirrored by the commitment to the larger local business community. Local products and businesses are highlighted throughout the store.
“We’re here because we want to place make and build a community.”
Understory Coffee graces the shelves as you enter the door. On the counter are goodies from La Boulangerie Marguerite and Brake Bread. Crystal notes that owning a small business has many and varying challenges; in seeking out other small businesses to support through their shop, they have continuously been inspired by the committed community of small business owners in Saint Paul. All united by a common mission to uplift one another and St. Paul as a whole.
What is the favorite bike accessory that everyone wants this year? We have so many cute handlebar bags right now and
people are so excited to buy them. We are especially fond of the handlebar bags produced locally by Yellow Cat Industries.
What is your favorite coffee drink: The Crystal. Espresso, Half n Half, and Honey. Sweet but not
too sweet. Similar to a breve.
How can co-op shoppers support you right now:
Plan to bring your bikes into the shop for a tune-up over the winter. That supports us and ensures that you will be ready to ride as soon as possible in the spring. It is a bummer when people wait until spring and then wait for several weeks to get their bikes back.
Also, swing in to say hi and grab a cup of coffee.
Any upcoming projects we should know about?
There is a great sale on new bikes right now! Other than that, we are putting our nose to the grindstone to get bikes out to as many people as possible before winter weather arrives.
Our Community Partner Program provides additional benefits to co-op member-owners while strengthening the connection between members and local, sustainable, independently-owned businesses. Co-op members get 10% off every purchase at Lowertown Bike Shop!