| Photo by Robin May
“I’ve had a passion for bikes my whole life. My father and I have been riding bikes since I was a kid.”
William Atkinson Jr. is still a kid when it comes to bicycles. Twenty-six with a lumberjack beard and a connoisseur’s enthusiasm, the St. Thomas More grad put on his big boy apron a few weeks ago and opened a bike shop like no other in Hubtown — Recycled Cycles of Acadiana. Part retail bike store, part repair shop, part museum of antiquities, the little business faces Parc Sans Souci on Vermilion Street next door to Agave Restaurant. Bikes ready for sale line the sidewalk out front, and the shop, part of the old Tribune Printing Plant building, is packed with them. Near the front window, some gems of yesteryear await repair and refurbishment — a 1941 Schwinn Admiral, the model at the center of “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” shows its years beside a similarly venerable Murray sporting art deco lines. Above them in the display window hangs a Swiss Army bike. “That’s the most valuable bike in the whole store,” Atkinson says with detectable awe, “five grand.” While Swiss Army bikes, like the namesake knives, are tricked out and adaptable to happenstance, it’s probably prudent the Swiss are neutral in wartime.
In the back of the shop, bike builder Don Smith, sporting a bushy Edwardian mustache (What is it about bikes and facial hair?), is hard at work. Smith has made a name for himself by welding his own customized bikes, some modeled in spirit of Victorian penny-farthings (huge front wheel, tiny rear wheel). Atkinson says building custom bikes is also in the business plan.
And while the vintage bikes garner attention on the showroom floor, Recycled Cycles of Acadiana is mostly a place where customers can select contemporary used bicycles — cruisers and racers mostly — that have been restored and nursed back to good working order. There are also a few new bikes, including from a California company called Nirve.
Some of these bikes are donated, and Atkinson admits he’s also a familiar face at garage sales, although he’s vague on the exact dimensions of his supply line. “It’s kind of a secret,” he says slyly. “I don’t like to give out too many details, but I will say that we want to get bikes from everyone; people bring in old bikes and we buy them from them for a decent price. We fix them up, get most of them in perfect riding order and sell them for a decent price.”
It was while a student at Colorado Mountain College in the Rockies where cycling is literally an up and down affair that Atkinson really rolled upon the Nirvana of classic bicycles: a 1936 Roadmaster Deluxe. It was given to him by an elderly man Atkinson helped out of a jam. Atkinson still has the bike and is restoring it.
He admits the concept of selling recycled bikes isn’t new. A shop in Fort Collins, Colo., provided the inspiration for Recycled Cycles of Acadiana. “Just the coolest bicycle store I’ve ever seen,” Atkinson recalls, “That’s kind of where the dream started actually. I was in college, I went there: ‘I’m going to have me one of those one day.’”
Now he has one, and his first week was gangbusters: 13 bikes out the door. That’s solid commerce for a shop of this kind in a culture that likes it new, likes it disposable, and thinks of recyclables as stuff you throw out.
This is actually Atkinson’s second bike-related business venture. “We did bicycle messengers in Lafayette, and it lasted about three months and I couldn’t get a single client.”
Recycled Cycles of Acadiana is located at 208 E. Vermilion. For more information, call 235-2453 (BIKE).
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Black Friday shopping begins; Pope visiting Turkey; oil prices decline and more national and international news for Friday, November 28, 2014.
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The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
A divided 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a Lafayette district judge’s ruling absolving the co-owner of a New Iberia accounting firm of liability in an embezzlement case.
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By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
Three bedroom in Port Barre or two bedroom in Opelousas
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
“I am only getting a little nervous about two projects — the proposed Sasol GTL facility [not the new ethylene plant] and the proposed G2X facility — both in Lake Charles. They need a hefty difference between oil and natural gas prices to make sense.”
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Lower oil prices also might slow the growth of oil production in parts of the U.S., Canada and elsewhere because it will no longer be so profitable.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
A Lafayette woman faces up to 20 years in prison for running up more than $1 million in unauthorized charges to her company credit card.
Signs that our state’s banking industry is undergoing a downsizing in 2014 were further confirmed today with the FDIC’s latest figures showing a third straight quarter in which Louisiana lost more banks and earned less money.
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State police say a 47-year-old Lafayette man, who collected more than $83,000 in disability benefits, is accused of operating two businesses out of his home at a time when he claimed he had no income.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.