Bixby Bicycles Reopens Shop With Support of Community
By EMILY RAMSEY
CYCLING SUPPORT: Buster Brown, owner of Bixby Bicycles, 8315 E. 111th St., stands in his shop after it reopened on Aug. 18. For the second time in less than a year, his bicycle shop was the target of arsonists.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
When Bixby Bicycles, 8315 E. 111th St., reopened on Aug. 18 after the store was vandalized by arsonists a month earlier, it wasn’t just a victory for owner Buster Brown. It was a victory for the community as a whole, he believes.
After this (vandalism) happened, we received overwhelming support, Brown says.
Three days after the vandalism, a customer and cycling enthusiast organized a group ride in show of support of the bicycle shop. Bixby Bicycles holds three weekly groups rides that usually see about 40 riders attend. However, this ride drew close to 100 riders.
Another customer donated T-shirts printed with the word Strong and the date of the arson attack, to be sold to raise funds for the store’s reconstruction.
A funding drive on Facebook was set up, which collected $4,500; $3,000 of that was collected within the first 24 hours.
This most recent act of vandalism is the third in a string of attacks in the past eight months that Brown says are not a coincidence.
In December, the front windows of his store were smashed, and a gasoline-soaked rag was thrown inside. A few weeks later, a window of his Broken Arrow home was smashed.
The attack that occurred on July 11 involved an unmanned truck running through the back wall of his shop, a truck that Brown believes was already on fire.
During the month following the vandalism, Brown operated his shop out of a storage unit that he had only recently started renting, located behind his store.
Brown is an avid cyclist, who has competed in various races through the years. He owned a bicycle shop in the ‘90s, but it was a shop that was much more retail focused, he says, as opposed to his current shop, which, in addition to being a retail and repair shop, is focused on the social aspect of cycling.
Brown opened Bixby Bicycles in April 2014. Its three weekly group rides run March to October and take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings.
“Rides help people get better on their bikes,” he says. “They’re also for those looking for something to do on their bikes.
“Those rides are our cornerstone or foundation. We’re a retail spot, but we’re more than that.”
As the rides have grown in popularity, so have their social element, with the groups regularly eating together, celebrating birthdays together in the bike shop, traveling and going dancing.
At the end of August, Brown rented a 54-passenger bus and took a group to the cycling event Hotter’N Hell, in Wichita Falls, Texas.
“One thing that’s come out of this (vandalism) is that I have realized how much the shop means to our clients,” says Brown. “I’ve heard clients calling the store, ‘my shop.’ It’s not just my store anymore, it’s theirs too.”