As the effects of the recession continue to be felt by independently owned businesses, local biking mecca Left Coast Cyclery is preparing to close its doors after eight years in Berkeley.
Left Coast is owned by partners and cycling enthusiasts Renee Gaumond and Cindy Olavarri. Gaumond says Left Coast started to feel the economic squeeze from manufacturers about two years ago, while also experiencing a dip in sales after the economy began to falter. Since then, Gaumond and Olavarri have tried everything to stay afloat, including keeping less inventory and doing more mechanical work in-house, but “the overhead just started to swallow us” Gaumond says.
Gaumond and Olavarri opened Left Coast Cyclery in 2002 with the intention of catering to the population of Berkeley cycling enthusiasts, particularly women. Olavarri had previously spent time as a professional cyclist racing for the 7-Eleven Cycling Team, and both saw an empty niche in the cycling market in the Bay Area. They decided to open Left Coast, not just as an outfitter of bicycles and biking apparel, but as a place where women could feel at home within Berkeley’s cycling culture.
According to Gaumond, the store’s success was a community effort. Left Coast’s location at the base of Claremont Canyon, a favorite ride for local cyclists, made it a logical meeting place for biking groups as well as an easy stop-in for gear and repairs. From its inception, the store has felt strongly supported by the neighborhood, as well as by the gay and lesbian community, keeping it afloat for eight years.
Apart from selling bikes, gear and apparel, Left Coast has also sponsored their own women’s cycling teams and hosted folk musicians traveling for concerts in the store’s basement.
Left Coast is hosting its final musical event on May 22 at 8 pm. The event, the last in the store’s Celebrating Songwriters series, is also its farewell to the neighborhood. The suggested donation is $10, and doors open at 7:30 pm.