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Owner closes fixie shop, shifts gears

Published January 10, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (BRAIN)—66 Fixed Gear and Singlespeed owner Michael Davis has shut down the popular St. Petersburg shop, but not because of financial struggles. Rather, an admitted case of burnout and a desire to do something new in the bike industry fueled the move.

Davis first got into bikes after his T-shirt company did work for a local bike shop that in turn gave him deals on bikes and accessories. He started wrenching on his own bikes and eventually sought instruction at the Barnett Bicycle Institute.

When he and his wife, Carol, opened the shop in 2007, the timing couldn’t have been better. “Fixed gear was really taking off, and the shop grew super fast. We had a big scene here. We kind of became a hub of fixed gear for all of Florida,” he said.

He had envisioned 66 Fixed Gear as a service-oriented shop, but customers were demanding more bikes, and retailing became a bigger part of business at the 800-square-foot shop.

“I was at my limit for this shop. It was time to expand. I didn’t have any employees, it was just me. And I didn’t want to expand first of all because of the economy, and also because I was kind of burnt out on the retailing,” he said.

So the shop closed at the end of 2011. Davis is liquidating his inventory via an eBay store as he plots his next move: launching a bike brand influenced by his background in fine arts. Davis envisions his new venture, L.A.B. Bikes, starting with tools and parts and eventually designing steel and aluminum frames to be produced in the U.S. He will also continue his wheel-building business.

In the end, Davis said his desire to remain wholly independent and not bring on additional staff helped spell the end of 66 Fixed Gear. “I just wasn’t ready to become the boss, because I’ve never liked bosses,” he said.

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