It’s a place so unassuming, so easy to overlook, that a small sign on the door offers reassurance to timid customers: “Yes, we are open.”
For seven years, Port City Bikes has sold and repaired bicycles from a tiny, but high-ceilinged, brick-walled space within a former industrial-scale laundry facility at the bottom of Portland’s Parris Street.
Inside, owner and bike mechanic Peter Wool, 56, can be tinkering on vintage bicycles listening to rocksteady music.
Originally from New York, Wool and life partner Karyn Jenkins moved to Portland in 1988. He left his IT career in 2010 because he wanted to work with his hands. Jenkins, who previously worked in graphic design, signed on as co-owner of the shop four years later.
Port City Bikes caters to commuter cyclists who want to ride something sturdy and practical, Wool said. The shop offers an assortment of new and used commuter-friendly bikes, plus parts and accessories. Wool said he tries to accommodate same-day repairs for commuters, so they can drop off their bikes in the morning and pick them up after work.
Wool believes commuter cycling is gaining in popularity in Portland, especially as parking in the city gets tighter.
The best part of the job is matching a customer with the perfect bike or “fixing something and sending someone home happy,” he said.
The East Deering resident is also well-attuned to his customer base. Weather permitting, he rides two miles to work each day on his prized 1971 Schwin Sports Tourer — a fixie (no freewheel, so no coasting) with a front brake and a front basket.
Correction: This story was updated at 10 a.m. on March 21 to correct Peter Wool’s name.