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Brooklyn's Red Lantern Bicycles closing

Published November 7, 2017

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (BRAIN) — Retailer and café Red Lantern Bicycles is closing after seven years in business in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. Owners Brian and Lena Gluck shut down the café at the end of October in order to sell off its equipment while continuing to service bikes through the end of November, when the shop will close.

Red Lantern sold a mix of refurbished bikes as well as new city bikes from local supplier Brooklyn Bicycle Co. and cargo bikes from Xtracycle.

"I was a Raleigh dealer for a couple years, and it went really well. But the sales just started to tank a couple years ago when companies started going direct to consumer. So I got out of that and went to used bikes," Brian Gluck said.

He decided to close due to a number of factors, including an annual rent increase that continued to outpace his sales growth. "So we just decided we'd finish out the year and not go through another winter and call it quits now before the next increase kicked in," Gluck said.

"And with the coffee shop, a Starbucks opened two blocks away and just decimated our walk-in traffic," he added.

Additionally, the expansion of the Citi Bike bike share system, now numbering more than 10,000 bikes, has had a negative effect on bike sales, Gluck noted.

"It wasn't this gateway drug I thought it was going to be, where it was heavy and clunky and they'd want to get a new bike. That never happened. There was never a connection. I think the customer is compromising between it not getting stolen, not having to maintain it, and not having to lug it up four flights of stairs," Gluck said.

Red Lantern also ran a Free Bike Program in which the shop would refurbish donated kids' bikes and give them away on the sales floor. Gluck estimates that this summer he got 40 to 50 young riders onto bikes through the program.

"Some people wouldn't know about it, and they'd ask about a bike and the kid would try it out. Then they'd ask how much it was, and I'd say it's free. That was the best moment of my week," he said.

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