The Awesome Mitten - Central District Cyclery

Day 300: Central District Cyclery

Nate Phelps has been a daily commuter via public transit and bicycle for 10 years. He was encouraged as a teen by his roommate to purchase a mountain bike, and since then he has built his life around cycling. Phelps recently opened a trendy new bike shop in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, where he plans to grow the local bike culture. Central District Cyclery is positioned on Monroe Center, the red brick, one-way road that has become the focal point for revitalizing retail downtown GR.

Phelps’s background is bike advocacy, not retail. He’s been a member of the Michigan Mountain Bike Association for six years and continues to work with the Grand Rapids Bike Coalition.

“Opening a bike shop wasn’t just a grand plunge to lose my life savings,” he says. “But if I wanted to walk the walk, then I needed to think about a viable solution for repairs and rentals [in] downtown Grand Rapids.”

The Awesome Mitten - Central District Cyclery
Photo courtesy of Bob Hammond

When looking for available real estate, Phelps wanted to make sure the space was large enough so his mechanics were not hidden in a back room, but right up front in the display windows. He mentions the importance of walk-by traffic being able to see the repairs firsthand, as well as being able to interact with his mechanics on a personal level.

Fifty-two Monroe Center was the final decision for location. A once high-end men’s fashion boutique, now turned urban bike shop, makes for a super-fly and unique vibe. It came fully equipped with hardwood floors and wood work–from vintage display shelving, to the wood beams on the ceiling which look like enormous bike spokes. It even has a stone fireplace in the center of the showroom. The place looks and feels historical–because it is. Grand Central Cyclery fits very well in the urban setting and aligns with the city’s efforts of reviving the historic Monroe Center Mall. The grand opening and ribbon cutting was celebrated three weeks ago and attracted a wide variety of community leaders and bike advocates; even Mayor Heartwell was there!

The short term future for Central District Cyclery involves planning community bike rides and partnering with upcoming city events to provide affordable bike rentals. Phelps says his long term goal is to be open 30 years from now while continuing to build local bike culture in GR. Visiting the shop is definitely an experience you’ll remember. A top notch staff lead by Manager Bob Hammond and a great vision by Phelps make this place notable and… Awesome!

Find Central District Cyclery on Facebook, for more information.

-Dakota Shayne, Feature Writer

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