A few weeks ago a couple of us from Moots made a quick pointed trip to Southern California. It was down and dirty quick. Depart on Thursday am and be back Monday night. Not the shortest trip ever known to man, but did I mention we drove there & back? Yep, from my calculations we spent 38 hours behind the wheel and in the sprinter van during those days.
Yes, it was a quick trip and we only saw two shops and did two events, but those events made up for what quantity can never give you.
Just up the road from the coastal town of Ventura and through the small town of Casitas Springs, (where Johnny Cash once called home) sits Ojai, California. In some ways it reminds me of Steamboat Springs, population about 10,000, surrounded by beautiful mountains and inhabited by some of the nicest people you’d like to meet. Main street in Ojai really is the “main street” with several businesses and shops that don’t scream big box.
Right when you enter town on the left is the site of The Mob Shop. The building has some real character; once a gas station that had gone out of business and sat empty for 17 years, now a revitalized & remodeled building that houses a very special bike shop.
Kelly, Greg & Tim are the partners in the shop and serve as almost every position in the store. Mechanic, sales staff and floor sweeper, you name it they do it. The story of the shop goes something like this; several years ago Kelly ran a Recycle Bicycle program out of a local pool store. Yes, a pool store. Chlorine on one side, bike parts on the other. Now I’ve heard of a lot of lawn mower/bike shop combos, locksmith/bike shop combos, but before this had never had the pool/bike shop combo thrown out there. Anyway, the pool/recycle bike shop progressed into a newer space after about a year and then Kelly & Greg felt the need for an even bigger space. The gas station was found and Tim was brought into the fold.
They spent about 6 months remodeling the old gas station into an amazing space. They kept some of that old-school gas station feel by using some of the features as fixtures in the store. Car lifts, over head doors and the outside classic gas station bathroom. (Yes, you gotta ask for the key to use it)
GRAND OPENING 2012
The new space hosted a Grand Opening in June of 2012. In Ojai, the crew that turned this deserted building into an amazing space has gotten the attention of locals and those that travel from LA to escape for the weekend as the place to go to for your bicycle needs. Big or small, commuter or full on racer.
One customer in particular has been a constant as the boys grow their business. Jack Mitchell frequents the shop and does his part to keep them in business by buying bikes one after another. Jack now owns 3 Moots through The Mob Shop and might have a 4th in his future in the form of a Frosti. Jack is a character and a character that rides…every day. He rides somewhere around 9,000 miles a year. He’s retired and loving every pedal stroke. He’s a pretty amazing guy, loads of stories about managing music venues and riding his bike. (That’s him above with Tim).
A STAFF THAT RIDES
Yes, our industry is a passion driven one. Most of us fall victim to the industry because we have a passion for the bike. Yet, sometimes life gets in the way, longs hours of work followed by long hours of life. It’s easy to let one day of not riding turn into 30, then before you know it you’re separated from what got you into this in the first place.
The gents at The Mob Shop ride. They have that passion that pushes them out the door and onto the bike. I think it makes a difference on how they see their business and how they can relate product to customers, to the connection of riding. Our demo afternoon ran into the evening on that Friday, we stayed and (might of) had a beer with them. The next day our schedule was tight, but we took the offer to join them for an early ride. We have to right? It’s part of the job right? Yes, I’m right. We could not go all that way and not ride with them. So early on Saturday morning we met back at the shop, fitted customers and staff to Moots demos, slammed down coffee and a pastry and off we went. Road bikes. Climbing from the start….up, up and more up. 4,000 feet in 15 miles. We climbed one of the favorite routes of the group and descended back to town, changed and hit the road. The “afterglow” of a ride stuck with us the rest of the day.
In my opinion you learn a lot by riding with someone, whether through conversation or just how they roll on a bike. It’s good to know we have a very special dealer in Ojai that understands bikes. If you ever find yourself in the area, stop in and say hi & meet The Mob Shop crew. Have a coffee and join them for a ride if you can. You won’t regret it. We didn’t.