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Bike shop may close its doors after 18 years

Vashon Island Bicycles owner Jeff Ammon at the shop last week. Ammon says the shop may not be open past the end of the month. - Natalie Martin/Staff Photo
Vashon Island Bicycles owner Jeff Ammon at the shop last week. Ammon says the shop may not be open past the end of the month.
— image credit: Natalie Martin/Staff Photo

Vashon Island Bicycles, facing financial difficulties, will likely have to shutter its doors.

Jeff Ammon, the shop’s owner, said last week that the shop has been struggling for the past year or two, as it as seen a steep decline in business.

Ammon repairs and rents bicycles and sells bike parts and accessories at the shop on 178th Street, which he has owned for 18 years. However, in recent years business has dropped to about a quarter of what it used to be, he said. Lately he has struggled to make rent and has been unable to restock some of his shelves.

“It’s been rough,” he said. “It’s really not paying the bills.”

Ammon said there could be a number of reasons his business has dropped off. The poor economy has affected many small business, he said, more people are purchasing bike parts and accessories online now, and there’s now a second bike shop on Vashon that also does repairs.

As customers learned of Ammon’s struggles, one customer recently decided to try to help.

Brian Hildebrand, a regular customer who says he also considers Ammon a friend, set up an online fundraiser where people can donate to the shop. Hildebrand hopes to raise $1,500 to cover a month of Ammon’s rent, and he also organized a couple of small concerts at the shop to bring in donations.

Hildebrand called the bike shop a fixture on Vashon and said it would be sad to see it go.

“I think it’s just a really key part of the uptown community,” he said, noting that kids and teens often hang out at the shop as well.

As of Monday, the fundraiser, hosted by the website GoFundMe had brought in $505.

Ammon said he was touched by the fundraiser and appreciated the support, but he would need more than $1,500 to keep his doors open. He is considering moving the business to another retail spot or possibly to his home.

Whether the shop stays open past the end of the month, he said, depends on what kind of agreement he can work out with his landlord. Last week he had already begun moving some things out of the store.

Ammon said he was feeling calm about the transition but sad at the idea of losing the shop.

“It’s weird, let me tell you, to think about not coming in,” he said.

The fundraiser for Vashon Island Bicycles is at www.gofundme.com/8h19j8.

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