Reusing the old for a new bike store

The huge floor-length mirrors at 437 Cooper St. now reflect bikes rather than fur coats. (Brett Delmage/The BUZZ)
The huge floor-length mirrors at 437 Cooper St. now reflect bikes rather than fur coats. (Brett Delmage/The BUZZ)

Alayne McGregor

Converting a fur store into Centretown’s newest bike store involved more than moving the bikes in.

QuickCranks had to dispose of 17 tons of steel when it took over the former premises of Pat Flesher Furs at 437 Cooper Street, said QuickCranks director Mustafa Ismail.

Flesher Furs (now in the ByWard Market) had a climate-controlled, 24-foot high vault for storing furs at the back of its showroom. The vault was filled with coat racks made from two-inch steel pipes. Coats were stored three storeys high and accessed via scaffolding.

Ismail said his staff cut out the piping by hand and replaced it with three storeys of bicycle racks, but they did retain the foot-thick cinder block walls and the massive steel door – making it likely the most secure bike storage in Ottawa.

The showroom was easier to convert – it just needed some racks and display grids – but it still shows the style of its previous owner, with bright lighting and huge mirrors that allow you to see you and your bike from every angle.

The store, which officially opens March 15 but which is already operating, will be the second location for QuickCranks, which also has a store on the eastern edge of Hintonburg. It also replaces the long-time Foster’s Sports Centre on Bank Street. Ismail said that he had been in talks with the owner of Foster’s, who wanted to retire, for the past year.

QuickCranks bought Foster’s and its inventory and assets – but not the Bank Street location, which will now be occupied by Wallack’s Art Supplies, which was forced to move out of its long-time location.

Besides saleable inventory, Ismail said, his staff also found a cache of bikes dating back 50+ years in Foster’s basement.

“Some crazy tools that we haven’t seen since the 70s. We got a lot of really vintage bikes from the 70s or 60s – really cool stuff. A lot of them were not in rideable condition; he’s probably had some bikes leftover from service [calls] that maybe weren’t picked up, collecting cobwebs there in this huge basement. Definitely some oddities there.”

Ismail said the QuickCranks store will have a range of bikes, but “our bread and butter always will be commuters and people who are just trying to get into entry-level gravel biking and entry-level cycling.” From the beginning, he said, the store’s mission was to improve the acceptability of cycling. It also has a service department doing everything from flats to full overhauls.

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