Business partners Ean Parsons and Jeremy Ordaz opened the Oak Cliff Bicycle Co. on Tyler Street about six months ago because there was no bike shop in our neighborhood. Parsons, who lives in Oak Cliff and works downtown at Neiman Marcus, doesn’t own a car. He commutes by bike, which is faster than taking the DART train or bus. Ordaz was a shade-tree bike mechanic who worked as an electrician for about 12 years, but was laid off around the time he seriously began contemplating a bike business. Since they opened the shop in August, Ordaz, whom we interviewed for this piece, has pared down his bicycle collection from 30 or so to about 12.
How did you choose this space?
I had been saving up money so I could buy a commercial space and have a garage. But the lending climate right now is such that you have to put 20 percent down, so even if you can find a $100,000 building, that’s still 20 grand you have to put down. So instead of doing that, I used the money to lease this space, which works fine for what we’re doing. So far, we haven’t taken out any loans.
It seems like you’re getting a lot of business. What are most people looking for when they come in here?
People come in looking for commuter bikes, mainly, and vintage bikes because they’ve heard we have a lot of vintage bikes. We get a lot of repair business from people in the neighborhood, and we try to help everyone. A lot of paleteros come through here, and sometimes we’ll take a paleta for payment because they don’t have any money. But if you fix one paleta guy’s bike, then he tells his buddies and they’ll come in and buy stuff.
Tell me about your bike collection. Is there any one bike out there in the world that you’re looking for — the collector’s holy grail, so to speak?
I don’t look for specific things. Anything that’s unique that I stumble upon, I might want to pick up. I’m not biased as far as cool old bikes. Anything that’s got character. [Later, he changed his answer to “any Rene Herse bike”.]
What are your goals for the shop?
To expand and carry more products. I want to have more high-end mountain bikes because I’m really more of a mountain biker than anything else. We want to see more people riding, and lead more rides. We want to have road rides start here. When we get bigger, I want to give clinics — classes related to road rides or fixing flats.
There seems to be this budding bicycle culture in Oak Cliff. Why do you think that is?
There are a lot of parking issues in Oak Cliff and downtown, and it just makes a lot of sense to get where you’re going on a bike. The state fair is 4.5 miles from Oak Cliff. Everything is pretty much less than five miles away. It makes sense to at least have a bike, whether you’re commuting to work every day or just riding for fun.