It was a longer commute than normal for Michael Cranwell, General Manager of Duke's Cycle as traffic was bad on the morning of February 20, 2008. He had already heard that a fire had broke out a few doors down from his store and figured by the time he got to work he would have some general maintenance to do with smoke damage. To his astonishment however, he arrived just as the building collapsed. More than 150 Toronto firefighters had tried to control the blaze however there was nothing that could be done. Gary Duke, owner of the store was floored at the loss of his family's business that has been running since 1914.
It was disheartening to see as Michael and I walked up to the vacant lot where Duke's used to stand. What lifted the mood however was what we spotted in the rubble. Michael found the remains of a dropout but what really caught his eye was an arm-warmer emblazoned with the logo of the home cycling club, the LapDogs.
We stepped into the new building at 625 Queen Street West and it was refreshing. I've set foot into a few dark, cramped cycling shops where you have to suck in your gut in hopes you don't accidentally knock over a bicycle, but this new shop is open and clean. Hardwood floors, plenty of glass accents and beautiful bicycle racks contribute to the airy atmosphere and the huge windows at the front let plenty of sunlight spill in to light the entire two floors.
There is still lots of work to be completed but the following photos will give you a sense of what to look forward to.
The main floor has many commuter and hybrid bicycles as well as helmets and accessories. Everything is well lit and easily accessable.
At the rear of the shop is the service counter where everything is starting to come together.
Downstairs is where the bicycle repair crew is already hard at work fixing bikes while the temporary store is still open at 452 Richmond Street West.
The georgeous stairs welcome people to the second floor.
Upstairs, the wide open area will be populated with Road bicycles on one side an Mountain Bikes on the other. There are change rooms and a section dedicated to ladies bicycles too.
A new bicycle fitting room offers privacy as the door can be closed as new bicycles can be adjusted to their new owners liking.
Michael wraps up the tour by describing how the new building has a mix of new with plenty of modern elements, while still sharing links to the past. It will be opening within the next week or two and we look forward to what it brings to Toronto.