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Longtime product manager Henderson opens shop in rural Washington

Published February 18, 2016

KENNEWICK, Wash. (BRAIN) — When self-proclaimed recovering workaholic Heather Henderson left her job at Cervélo last year, she traveled the long way to her hometown in southeast Washington state. She took the opportunity to visit family and friends she hadn’t seen for the better part of a decade while deeply immersed in her work.

“I just sort of jumped into space when I left Cervélo,” said Henderson, who began her career in the industry in 1996 at a small shop in the Midwest. “But I took the time to see people I hadn’t in so long while I was busy climbing the corporate ladder.”

With stints at several bike shops over the years and time working at Cannondale, DT Swiss, Specialized, Trek and Cervélo, Henderson realized the time was ripe to open the store of her dreams — and that her hometown was a good place to do it.

Henderson opened Leaning H Bike Shop two weeks ago in Kennewick, one of the Tri-Cities located in southeastern Washington not far from the Oregon border. Pasco and Richland complete the trifecta, and among the three cities, Henderson said there are only eight other shops serving the population of around 275,000 people.

“I want to chop down some of the barriers and create a store for all kinds of people, especially women and new cyclists,” said Henderson, who spent five years working as a product manager for Trek’s women’s line. “And my whole family is here, and there is a lot of opportunity for all kinds of cycling to grow here.”

Henderson worked with former Trek color and graphics designer Stacy Martin to create what she called a “full-meal modern bike shop.” The 2,600-square-foot store features antique fixtures, concrete floors, reclaimed barn wood and a custom maple cash wrap. Many of the materials are local and salvaged, and there is no slat wall or pegboard in sight.

“I wanted it to feel like it was from here and of here, of this place,” Henderson said. “We have this wonderful mix of materials and curated displays. Backstock is tucked out of sight so it feels clean and modern.”

Leaning H carries Trek and Niner and features a commuter shower, fitting room and a dedicated Trek Project One area. Henderson is also stocking apparel, accessories and a few lifestyle items, including bags and travel gear from Dakine. She has hired a longtime friend to work as service manager and plans to add more staff as the season ramps up.

Situated on the edge of the city’s mountain bike trail network, Leaning H also offers a bike valet service for $10. Henderson will set up the rider’s suspension and check tire pressure before they hit the trails and then clean and lube the bike afterward using the shop’s indoor bike wash station.

“A lot of riders don’t pay attention to their suspension, so I think this will be a gentle way to show people how important it is — if your rear shock isn’t set up right, you’re just riding a very expensive hardtail,” she said. “Then they can go next door to the landlord’s mac and cheese place after their ride to have a beer, which is included in the valet, while I wash their bike.”

The Tri-Cities has a vibrant road riding scene, with extensive bike paths running along the confluence of the Snake, Columbia and Yakima rivers, but Henderson hopes to promote gravel riding to take advantage of the many lightly trafficked unpaved roads in the area. 

Leaning H held a grand opening last week, with several Trek staffers in attendance, including Gary Fisher. Many arrived early to help Henderson put the final touches on the store.

“My friends and my family swarmed through like locusts, leaving beauty in their wake instead of destruction,” she said. “It was so awesome, I have this full pro setup thanks to everyone I know, and I am so grateful for that.”


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