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One on One Bicycle Studio to relocate pending sale of building

Published November 15, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS (BRAIN) — Gene Oberpriller has lived or worked, or both, in the historic building in downtown Minneapolis where his shop, One on One Bicycle Studio, is located, since 1989. He moved into a second-story apartment above a massage parlor, where he lived while racing bikes until the late ’90s when, as he puts it, “the money dried up and we all had to get real jobs.”

For Oberpriller, that meant working as a bike messenger, as an ad agency location scout, a sales rep, and finally, for Salsa not long after QBP purchased it in 1997.

“I was a pretty good ambassador at the time, a figurehead for Salsa. But we had a few dust-ups over direction. I didn’t play well, so I signed my release,” Oberpriller said. “I was the first to be hired and the first to be fired there after Steve (Flagg) bought it. Right then, we started the shop.”

Oberpriller, along with his wife Jennifer, who was QBP’s marketing director at the time, opened Gene’s Bicycle Junkyard in the basement below the massage parlor in 2000 as a small, one-counter service department.

The Oberprillers moved the business upstairs and renamed it One on One Bicycle Studio when the first floor became available in 2003. They gutted the 3,000-square-foot space, acquired a feral three-legged cat named Triker, who would eventually become a reluctant but cooperative shop pet, and added a coffee bar and café. Oberpriller said he took inspiration from a number of bike shops, including Over the Edge Sports in Fruita, Colorado, Sedona Bike & Bean and the Bay Area’s Robinson Wheel Works, which had a coffee shop next door.

“Jennifer and I and Hurl (Thomas Everstone) from Cars-R-Coffins, we brainstormed opening a shop like this. We loved to go hang out at coffee shops before and after riding bikes,” he said. “Five years later, we did it.”

The shop hosts art shows, group rides and impromptu DJ sets at the shop and around the Twin Cities. One on One’s building has a storied history in the Minneapolis music scene, with various bands from all over the country passing through and staying on the second and third floors.

The shop specializes in off-road riding, carrying Santa Cruz, Ibis, Yeti, Specialized and several others over the years. But it also carries a variety of city, road and adventure models.

“I was really fortunate. Minneapolis was just starting to gain a foothold in the cycling market, with Q here and the boom of off-road riding was fully happening,” Oberpriller said. “Our timing was great.”

The Oberprillers leased the space for 10 years before buying the 12,300-square-foot building.

But now, Oberpriller says it’s time for a change. He’s looking to sell the building and give the shop a fresh start in a new place.

“This location isn’t serving us anymore as a destination. There are demographic changes and changing consumer tastes. It’s becoming more gentrified here and it’s changing,” he said. “We saw it softening, especially this year.

“It’s come full circle. In bikes, it always goes in cycles. We are seeing road bikes decline, now off-road bikes are amazing. The city bike market is in total decline here. I’d call it saturation. Wakeman Massey, who started Surly, deemed it ‘transportation fascination.’ There are all these means to get around in dense urban areas: bike share, skateboards, electric skateboards, scooters of all manner, Uber, car share. People who have an old bike already, they don’t really want or need a new one for getting around,” he added.

But Oberpriller said the Minneapolis market is also in transition, at a time when there are numerous disruptions in the broader bicycle market. With great infrastructure, it’s a mature, established market that is also highly competitive. According to Oberpriller, there are about 70 bike shops in the metro area.

“With Erik’s and Penn Cycle, we are the biggest Specialized and Trek network in the country I believe,” he said. “But there are so many disruptions, and so many brands. Do we even know how many bike brands there are?”

One on One has built its business around service and test riding, and Oberpriller said he currently has dozens of demo bikes because he prefers not to stock many new models. The shop is currently located about three miles from a 12-mile singletrack.

“For the past two years, we’ve been highly resistant to keeping new bikes on hand. We’ve sold the same number of bikes for 10 years. It just moves around the categories,” Oberpriller said. “So then you’re focused on a level of service, and we do what we can to take care of everybody. We’re all in the hospitality business. For us, you’re buying into our culture, like going to a small restaurant or brewery. … The days of the grumpy bike shop owner or mechanic, those days are over.”

Oberpriller said he’d like to bring One on One back to its roots, yet create a new shop in a place where it can be a community destination. He doesn’t yet have a timeline because a move is contingent on the sale of the building, which is listed at $1.3 million.

“We’d like to move further south or north, staying on the river. We do have our eyes on buildings, a few solid things we are looking at. Real estate deals take forever. I’m thinking something will happen in February, after we get through the winter,” he said. “I love this business, the people and the enthusiasm. But it’s time for a change. It’s kind of run its course. It’s exciting because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”


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