Bike Blog makes NY Times
Photo by Andrea Mohin/the New York Times
When Brooklyn Industires put bikes like this in its windows, bikers cried foul.
NY Times Article
Hip Store in the Hot Seat
by Kerrie Mitchell
Published: March 19, 2006
The weather is warming, and that means it's time to take the bikes out of storage. Except for Brooklyn Industries, that is, which might have been better off keeping its bikes tucked away. It was because of these bikes that Brooklyn Industries, the eclectic hipster clothing boutique, found itself the target of a coordinated graffiti attack early on Feb. 23, when someone etched in acid on the front windows of four of the company's stores, three in Brooklyn and one in SoHo. The scrawled messages — variations on "Bike Culture Not 4 Sale" — were apparently a response to displays in the store's windows that featured gargantuan custom bicycles known as tall bikes, made from discarded frames and other parts. The company intended that the display highlight its plan to donate money from sales of messenger bags to Recycle-a-Bicycle, a Brooklyn charity that runs bike workshops for children.
After the vandalism, Brooklyn Industries removed the displays and posted an almost apologetic message in the windows trying to explain the store's intent.
No one has admitted to the vandalism, which set off intense debate on bike blogs over what is often called the commodification of bicycle culture in general, and of the fiercely protective tall-bike world in particular.
Wayne Heller, a store designer for Brooklyn Industries who helped build the eight display bikes, says that all were made from old parts, most of which came from a bike store scrap yard and a lot on Myrtle Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
"A lot of people thought that they were purely decorative," Mr. Heller said, referring to some of the online chatter. "I spent so much time making sure these things were rideable and functional. We made it a do-it-yourself project, which is a lot of the ethic of bike culture in the first place."
Michael Green, who runs Bikeblog on blogspot, for New York bike enthusiasts, fielded online comments about the incident. He admits to having had mixed feelings when he first saw the display.
Michael Green who runs bikeblog on blogspot, for New York bike enthusiats, fielded on online comments about the incident. He admits to having had mixed feelings when he first saw the display.
"I've made a tall bike," he said. "I wrestle with what can be commodified, and when it's something so close to home, it freaks you out." Still, he said of the vandalism, "I was really appalled, because it was a big black mark on the bike community."
All the windows have since been replaced at an estimated cost of $14,000. And Lexy Funk, the Brooklyn Industries president and co-owner, says the store has no intention of installing bikes in window displays any time soon.
"Displays are really not about profit," Ms. Funk said. "They're more about sparking a dialogue, which is really what we ended up doing. But it was the wrong type of dialogue."