Good question, and definitely a question I need to be able to answer for myself. But there was a purposeful open endedness to the question as I am finding, very quickly, how personal bike shops are. So, I’d be curious what “the best” is in your area in your opinion and why.
Here’s a bit of what I define as “the best”:
For the fixie/commuter bike shop, I would say it is about merchandise and brand image (which I tie to service and staff as much as the outward appearance). The shop carries personalized bikes, and local product mixed with well made, style conscious product.
As for the roadie shop…
Similar to above but geared towards the weekend warrior rider/MAMIL set. Primarily mid to high end equipment with staff that care about the quality and fit of your new bike that you probably just paid far too much for.
I have 3 shops in my immediate area and I use all 3 depending on my needs. I have 5 bikes. 1 modern road, 1 fixed commuter, 2 vintage road, 1 Sunday-going-to-church-or-ice-cream-shop-around-the-neighborhood-with-the-family.
Since I take care of all of those and my families bikes, I am too lazy to tune up my modern road. So once a year I go to shop 1 and have their mechanic do it because I think he is the best around for modern. The second shop I buy parts, lube, etc because they are a nice bunch of folks. The third shop I don’t frequent much any more but it is owned by an old-timer and when I first started into the vintage stuff, he is a great resource.
But then there are online shops that are my only source for Veloflex Roubaix tires, Cinelli tape, Giordana bibs and Rapha jerseys.
Then Cycle Smithy has a cool collection of vintage cycles. Same with Cycles de Oro, Cupertino, Boulder Bicycles, Alex Singer and many others.
I like RRB because Ron Boi is an interesting dude.
Wastyn is a mecca for 6-day guys.
Village Cycle is just plain huge with endless stuff to look at.
Design stores are another matter. Hard if not impossible to call them “best”. While my favorite for merchandise is Luminaire, all of them, including Luminaire, have the absolute worst customer service. There is a hole-in-the-wall mid-century modern place called Atomic Furniture with good people, an OK collection but the layout is bad.
Cult following around these guys. They ride hard and often. Lots of talent sponsored by them. Shop itself is pretty small.
Beautiful Store. Small, intimate, clean. Caters to the high end market. Full Fit system in there was awesome too see, used cameras to analyze your position and everything. Owner is super nice too. (Helped us out tremendously when we were building out bike prototype.)
Hip spot lots of local messengers and good service. Great bike art and photographs all over. Big bicycle graveyard in the basement with lots of random cool stuff
Best design store:
One of the best curated vintage stores I have ever found , lots of the classics but also alot of off the beaten path great designs. I did an apprenticeship in there shop and the must admit the work is outstanding and super high quality, most everything still being done by hand.
In Portland http://velocult.com/ is the shop with the most unique offering. They have a bar with really good beer and display a lot of unique old bikes. In Chicago I love what http://www.heritagebicycles.com is doing. The majority of the shop is a great coffee shop and in the back there is a tiny work shop and a bout a 200 sqft retail space. They fabricate all their bikes (off site) and offer American made steel bikes for people who want good, basic transportation… and might want a really good cup of coffee to go with it.
There’s a bike shop in Kyoto, called Restore No Mori, I believe on Shijo-dori, which is simply amazing. Racks of restored 70’s and 80’s racing bikes, from road machines to different sized wheel funny/track bikes, PLUS furniture, PLUS a delicious cafe and food. I can’t find the website but with some research I bet someone could track it down.
Since you asked, I will give you the long and boring answer.
I own 3 Cinelli bikes. Cino Cinelli, one of the principle owners, started as a pro cyclist, with wins at Lombardia, Milan/Sanremo and held the pink jersey for about 6 stages in the Giro. He was on team Frejus and was a lieutenant to the captain, Giovanni Valetti.
I began collecting old Italian magazines and newspapers, gathering information about Cinelli’s and Valetti’s cycling careers (among others). I scan images and articles and put them on my flickr site. One of Valetti’s grandsons found my collection and we started a correspondence and started swapping photos.
The grandson told me about an Italian kickstarter for the movie. I contributed. 8 weeks later they were funded and put a trailer on youtube.
Except I don’t understand a word of Italian.
I contacted the producers and asked how I can get subtitles. Easy. Just raise money. So I did my own private fundraiser. I also convinced someone to do the translation for free. So the producers got a free translation and a good chunk of change. Because of the translation and the extra money for entry fees, they were able to enter more film festivals (they won several awards).
Part of my fundraiser was giving DVDs to the donors. The producers sent me those with an additional swag bag for me as a thank you. My swag bag had a couple of DVDs, tee shirts and a couple of movie posters (as seen in the image above). I unrolled the poster and saw my name in the credits. I was floored as it was totally unexpected.
So while I obviously can’t take full credit, I did do a small part to expand the field of the movie. My movie.
+2 Angry Catfish. Opens early for coffee and its great to have a sip and walk around the well-designed showroom. I even found a White Industries freewheel cog for a good price. PLUS if you need breakfast, around the corner is a no-BS old school bakery with all the white-flour powdered sugar greasy fatty buttery goodness you need in Minnesota. OH and there is a really solid, kind of hipstery fishing shop next to it.