“There is now a vending machine selling bike supplies outside my local café #bushwick,” a friend posted online this morning. The vending machine arrived yesterday afternoon between the 24-hour Brooklyn Natural deli and the coffee shop Swallow, a block away from the Morgan L stop on Bogart — exactly where one might imagine something like this to pop up.
“It’s the first, but we’re planning for more for Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan in the Spring,” Bikestock co-founder Matthew von Ohlen tells ANIMAL. “We thought this community would be receptive.” This morning, a few locals stood by, some intrigued, some afraid to approach. Studying. Adapting.
Inside are small bike parts and accessories like locks, patch kits and lights. There’s a $5 “emergency poncho” and some headphones. There’s also water and very few protein bar-type snacks, but with Brooklyn Natural just feet away, those seem silly. It makes sense though, as the deli has partnered with Bikestock — it owns the sidewalk and stock the food parts. Next to the vending machine, there’s now air pump as well.
I’ve asked a few locals, friends and co-workers with bikes if they’d use it and the consensus seems to be yes. Mostly for tubes: “It seems useful if you really need to change a tube after hours.”
The machine made its first sale in cash to a passerby, before being plugged in. There were no credit card sales last night, von Ohlen tells ANIMAL, but he’s optimistic.
“It’s been our passion project for a year and a half,” he says. With project partner Joseph Huba, he read about these types of vending machines popping up elsewhere like Minneapolis and as an expat of a bike-culture-heavy Midwest, he went for it. “We have high hopes and big dreams.”
The most common criticisms seem to be, “It’s almost Bushwick/Wburg self-parody!” and “I’d just go to a bike shop.” But self-awareness of Brooklynisms aside — and fifteen minutes of giggling and musing later — we’d use it for basic stuff. Sometimes bike shops are closed and the vending machine isn’t. And everybody needs tubes.
(Photos: Marina Galperina/ANIMAL New York)