Denver bags a new Timbuk2 store in Larimer Square

Timbuk2, which made a name for itself with its bicycle messenger bags, is about to open its second retail location outside of its home base of San Francisco. The new store, which will open on May 3, is at 1411 Larimer Street, where it will join the line of specialty shops along that historic block. And while Timbuk2 seems a perfect fit not just for Larimer Square but Colorado's outdoorsy culture, the bag it produces has a culture all its own.

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Founded 25 years ago by bike messenger Rob Honeycutt in a garage in San Francisco's Mission District, Timbuk2 has attracted a loyal following of bike enthusiasts. From the start, Timbuk2 had a "grassroots" appeal for smaller bike shops and biking enthusiasts looking for a durable product at a reasonable cost. Thanks to strong word-of-mouth, Timbuk2 products were soon featured in larger stores, such as REI. And the company's online presence made it easier for bag fans outside of the San Francisco to snag their favorite brand.

Rapid growth came with a price, though. In 2002, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. "Broader market conditions and business in general was down during that time," says Bryan Shawley, senior manager of Timbuk2 retail. "There were some ownership changes and adjustments made in the way we do business."

Those adjustments paid off. Today, Timbuk2 has two retail stores in San Francisco, a store in Seattle and the new one in Denver; a host of specialty retailers carry its products; and its website, which has expedited the customization process, is one of company's major selling points. How did Timbuk2 bag Denver? According to Bryan, the city has a lot in common with San Francisco and Seattle, where the stores are in similar historic-and-hip shopping districts. And all three cities have both a start-up culture and a culture of bicycling that is not seen as "just an activity," he explains. "We have been very strategic where we hang our shingle; we try to find locations that share our sensibility and have our lifestyle."

With the new Denver location, the Timbuk2 in-store experience has evolved. Timbuk2 partnered with Gensler, a design and architecture firm, to create a community-oriented store. With the use of touch-screen technology tied to the Timbuk2 website, customers can create their own bags using the in-store design kiosk, which has over sixty fabric options. Once a customer completes an order, it should arrive within five business days -- with a lifetime guarantee, Timbuk2's second major selling point.

Timbuk2 wants to be known as more than just a bag company, though, and makes a point of hiring locals who have a passion not only for cycling but their community. While most Timbuk2 employees are riders, they are also cross-brand representatives for neighborhood and cycling events -- and they understand the value of being active in the community. So you can expect to see Timbuk2 out and about in Denver.

But first, Timbuk2 will hold a grand opening event from 2 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 3. Regular store hours will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit www.timbuk2.com or call 720-259-3261.

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