WICKER PARK — Rapid Transit Cycleshop will close the doors of its Wicker Park and University of Illinois-Chicago locations by the end of the year, its owners say, a decision described as "heartbreaking."
"Rapid Transit has been our labor of love and an amazing, unforgettable adventure," the owners said in a post on Facebook. "We’ve been privileged to work with talented and dedicated people throughout the years who helped make the shop a neighborhood institution."
A liquidation sale is being planned, according to owners Justyna Frank and Chris Stodder.
"In general, customers are doing more repairs and buying less fancy equipment," Frank said in an email. In Wicker Park, "rents and overhead that were negotiated back in 2007-2008 when the economy was doing OK have been creeping up."
A "lack of access to capital has completely tied our hands," she added.
In business since 1994, Frank said when she and her husband, Stodder, started their shop "hardly anyone was talking about using bikes for transportation (with the exception of the fledgling Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, where Chris volunteered)."
Now commuting by bicycle "has exploded in Chicago."
Still, there are "also quite a few more shops, particularly in the Wicker Park and Logan Square neighborhoods," Frank said.
"We are considering our options for the future and hope that we can, in some way, continue being part of Chicago's cycling community," she said.
Fans of the shops, located at 1900 W. North Ave. in Wicker Park and 1344 S. Halsted St. near the UIC campus, expressed disappointment.
"Thanks for being and supporting bikers when bikers weren't cool," one wrote.
"A hole will be left in the cycling community," wrote another.
The store's Wicker Park location, at the northwest corner of North and Wolcott avenues, features a vintage Stingray bike hanging from the facade and a colorful mural mostly along the Wolcott-facing side of the building.
About nine months ago, the shop reduced the size of its Wicker Park storefront because Max Muscle, a nutrition franchise, began to rent the neighboring store that was long used as a display room for bikes, helmets and other accessories.
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