Classic Bike – and how to run a value based business

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We are ourselves still surprised how many hidden gems Helsinki has when it comes to stores with entrepreneurs who want to change the city and offer us customers something different and meaningful. The first Foundry Curators’ Club Event of year 2014 took us for a visit to one of these stores, Classic Bike, which sells old school quality rides at Mechelininkatu.

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The story behind Classic Bike goes back to own personal experience of buying and owning a bike. Founder of the store Jari Vainio realized one day that the bikes he had bought for himself and his wife were not getting much riding and care, and he started to think that this could be changed. So he started to look for a bicycle that would have qualities that would develop a deeper, more personal and more meaningful relationship between the owner and the ride. He thought about other objects and product that very meaningful to him and figured that there must be bicycles out there that would make him feel the same way.

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Jari started a search for bicycles that are made with uncompromising ambition towards quality, a point of view that fits into his values. It started with Pashley – a British bike brand with almost 100 years of heritage – and developed into an idea of starting up a store, which would sell these kinds of bikes, which at the time you could not find in Finnish market. The company started importing bicycles in 2010, which then eventually lead to opening of a retail store on May 2013.

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For Jari and his business partner Marko Syväkari it is crucial that all the products they sell are made by “real” people with right kind of devotion to their work. For them it means not only that they know where these products come from, they say that they like the idea that you can talk to the makers when you visit the small workshops around Europe.

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Besides Pashley, brands they feature include Taurus from Milan, Moulton, Brompton, Cooper and Christiania bikes only to mention a few. Of all these brands and stories behind their products, Jari and Marko can tell you interesting stories with endless number of fascinating details.

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At the January Foundry Event hosted by Classic Bike we got to hear some amazing stories and histories behind their products. Jari and Marko also shared their ideas about where they want to take the store in the future – and what they believe in. These stories where accompanied by grappa, cognac and the best filter coffee in town, served to us by barista of the year 2013, Kalle Freese from Freese Coffee. Our old friends from Kämmen where also there to give us a chance to try out their new winter glove model, The Logger.

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What is common between all items you can find at Classic Bike is hand-made quality and uncompromising attention to detail. It is no coincidence that many designs have remained the same over decades – you don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.  At the same time many cheaper and faster-to-produce methods and solutions have been introduced to market. Often these new alternatives that aim to increase the profits also compromise the user experience and product lifespan.

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And when it comes to bikes like these, it is not only that they are built to last – they also are products with soul. When you buy a product like this, and you know its story, you end up developing a different kind of relationship with it. You want to treat it with the same respect as its makers have done. When it comes to values, this is a common distinctive difference between faceless mass-production and craft.

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Besides the bicycles – and other hand-picked products – that convey the common ground in values, Jari and Marko have taken the same thinking across their whole business. They aim to offer the best service for their customers – whether it is about giving just the right kind of restoration service to your grand mother’s old ride or returning the serviced bike to your doorstep when you are too busy to pick it up.

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There is not too many shops out there that truly understand that each small gesture is an investment to a long term client relationship and will pay back in time. The guys at Classic Bike will also take the opportunity to tell you the stories behind their products if you show that you care – and we see no reason why you shouldn’t. Not only they will help you to find a just the right kind of ride for your needs, body type and style – but you will also learn how it’s made and why. And these things will definitely make you love and respect each kilometer you ride more.

Take a look at more photos from the event at our Facebook gallery.

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Posted in Featured, Foundry Curator's Club.