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Seattle retailer relocating after blast, 'not all that mad' over Specialized blunder

Published April 8, 2016

SEATTLE (BRAIN) — With help from neighbors, the city and the bike industry — including a chastened Specialized Bicycle — G&O Family Cyclery is coming back with a new, temporary location a month after a gas-line explosion nearly destroyed its shop.

The early morning blast on March 9 leveled several businesses adjacent to G&O and severely damaged the store.

While the show of support has touched co-owner David Giugliano, he's trying to keep Specialized's PR blunder in perspective, even as local media and social media fan the flames.

Earlier this week, Giugliano, better known as "Davey Oil," noticed that there were Specialized posters on plywood covering the blown-out windows of the store (which is not a Specialized dealer).

It turns out the posters, which read "Better Bikes Come From Better Bike Shops," had been placed there by Poster Giant, a "guerrilla marketing" company that Specialized contracts with. Giugliano said he found the posters "rude," especially since they covered up a mural that had been painted on the plywood by a local group looking to beautify the neighborhood as it rebuilds following the explosion.

Giugliano tweeted about the posters and wrote about them on the shop blog. He was contacted by local media, including a TV station that he said was eager to put him on air as "a mildly angry guy."

But Giugliano told BRAIN on Friday that he's "not all that mad," about the posters. He had a long meeting with a regional Specialized representative; Specialized and the poster company have each donated $1,000 to the store's GoFundMe rebuild campaign.

Specialized's Erick Marcheschi, on behalf of "the Team at Specialized" also apologized for the posters in a message left on the GoFundMe page.

"We are deeply sorry for the regrettably placed poster on your shop earlier this week," the message said. "As you are aware at this point, our team had worked with an outside agency to put up posters on vacant buildings and by a stroke of bad luck and an uninformed street team, the poster was placed. We want to reinforce that this was in no way intentional or malicious, and instead an honest mistake. We are taking the appropriate actions to have it removed immediately. We very much respect and stand strong with local bike shops such as yours, as owners like you are what keep the bicycle culture thriving. Regardless of bike, brand, or location, we want to see local bike shops succeed and continue to serve their communities."

Giugliano said he was initially more upset with Specialized, in part because of some of the brand's prior missteps, including its threatened lawsuit against the Cafe Roubaix retail store and its recent Playboy e-bikes promotion in Germany.

But Giugliano decided not to let those events color his view of the posters.

"It was obviously not intentional," he said. "They made a blunder and they've made an effort to fix it."

Giugliano conceded that he wished Specialized would donate to Family Bike Seattle as he had suggested to the company. He said the store plans to give at least part of the $2,000 from Specialized and the poster company to the non-profit. The store also plans to use part of the funds to make posters directing customers to its new, temporary, location.

The humungous airbag of love

G&O, which specializes in cargo bikes and family transportation bikes, will re-open a few blocks away but still in the Greenwood neighborhood, probably by the middle of next week, Giugliano said.

The store was able to recover about 70-75 percent of its inventory, along with a lot of tools, from the damaged store and another nearby space that it was using to store inventory and repair bikes. After determining that the dust on the inventory was not dangerous, bikes will be returned to customers and some damaged inventory will be offered for sale at discount.

Since the blast, supporters have donated nearly $45,000 through the GoFundMe campaign, and neighbors have stopped by with small donations, cookies, and more, he said.

"People have come by with envelopes full of quarters that their kids donated, it's been really moving," he said. "We've been pulled in by a humungous airbag of love," he said with a laugh.

Giugliano said he has previously worked for non-profits, but as a businessman was initially confused by the donations.

"It took a kind of intellectual shift for me. As a business, I don't expect people to just want to give us money for no reason. That's why we set up the GoFundMe."

The funds are much needed, he said. Prior to the explosion, the store had been stretched thin as it paid for an expansion from cash flow. While the store expects to eventually get an insurance reimbursement, it hasn't received anything yet. 

The temporary location is smaller than the original, so the shop will keep its product focus narrow initially. The owners hope to eventually relocate to a larger place where they can showcase a distinct inventory of cargo and family bikes. Prior to the blast, G&O had been readying an expansion into a new category: electric bikes.

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