Aaron Grant and Casey Oliver have opened Arch City’s Last Stop Bike Shop, a mobile service and education center serving the area’s expanding cycling scene.
“If your bike needs service but a shop isn’t in your neighborhood, you might not go, or you don’t go often enough,” Grant said. “We also want to take our trailer to events. Or we could drop it in North or South City for a weekend and fix up kids’ bikes. Small guys like us can be an altruistic arm of the industry: help some kids, shake some hands, and make a difference in a weekend.”
Oliver is a longtime fixture here, having worked at area shops for more than a decade. Grant arrived a couple years ago from Seattle, where he was a partner in a bike shop/café. He and his then-girlfriend-now-wife, Audra Dexter, sought a fresh start following the pandemic and headed east.
“When we got to Missouri, we realized how much lower the cost of living was here.” He found work as a mechanic, where he met Oliver, and quickly realized they were kindred spirits.
“You work in a shop and get a request that you can’t fulfill because it’s not economically feasible,” Grant said. “We wanted to fill that request, so we started talking and scheming. By the time we left, we had a plan roughed out.”
With savings and seed money from their families, they bought the trailer and tools and set out to differentiate themselves. Perhaps their closest competition comes from Vanimal, which schedules appointments in St. Louis City and County and offers a fixed price menu of services. Last Stop aims for more geographical and service flexibility. They envision offering house calls, neighborhood popup repair weekends, and whatever the market reveals.
“We want to slowly build direct interaction, offer customization, discover what’s not on offer and what we can do to offer it,” Grant said.
Their first event was a bike swap in conjunction with Saint Louis Bike Polo at Tilles Park in October. “It was exactly what we were hoping for,” Grant said. “We helped some out-of-towners and made a few connections.”
Next, they organized a repair class for a dozen senior women in St. Charles. “That’s a service that shops don’t provide where we see a potential client base,” he said. “Some of these women won’t ride if they don’t have someone with them who knows basic repairs. This gives them a little more security and freedom.”
They also want to offer mountain biking lessons and repair classes, especially to younger riders, and establish a signature event. Their big goal is Arch City: a warehouse to park the trailer, stage group lessons, and attract like-minded businesses such as a coffee cart, food truck, or vintage retailer.
“Part of the reason we have a rough idea and a trailer as opposed to a retail shop is that once we get out there, we’ll get ideas,” Grant said. “Really, what we want to do is serve people with bikes.”
For more information, visit archcityx.com.
Author: Kathleen Nelson is a regular contributor to Terrain Magazine.