For more than eighty years, Collins' Bicycles was a staple on East Colfax Avenue — but in recent years, its fate started to look uncertain. Owner Tito Collins — the third generation of the Collins family to run the shop since its 1934 start — had fallen ill. Neighbors and friends Scott and Malissa Spero, who own Hooked on Colfax, next door had noticed his decline and they were wondering what would happen to the bike haven. Turns out it closed for about a year and half — until the Speros decided they wanted to take it over and carry on the legacy.
So the couple bought Collins' Bicycles from their neighbors and gave it new life as Two-Wheel Feel. Working with the founding family to keep the space familiar yet fresh, this new bike shop inside of a storied bike shop's shell looks and feels comfortable and familiar. Old Schwinn posters adorn new, rough wood paneling installed on the walls to better display new and used bicycle inventory. Layers of linoleum were lifted to reveal worn but beautiful hardwood floors, and a second-story storage spot was removed in the back service area to open up the room.
With the purchase of the business, the Speros gained leftover inventory and an assortment of old-school artifacts — like a big, manual cash register and vintage bicycle catalogs — that give the store a great atmosphere. "We just wanted to modernize it a bit but keep the old feel," says Scott Spero. The charming turquoise wood desk where customers now check out was found in pieces in the back room; once it was reassembled, the desktop needed some work, so hardwood from the trap door that used to lead to the basement was repurposed. The result is a centerpiece that fits in well with the shop's neo-retro vibe.
Two-Wheel Feel opened last month; although the focus in front is selling new and used bicycles, bike parts and accessories, it also has three service stations set up in the airy back half of the store, and several experienced mechanics are on staff. Spero hopes to add basic bicycle repair and maintenance classes to the shop's services in the near future. Although the Speros opened the store a little late for the season, they're excited to be part of the city's bike-friendly future: "We just really want to see more people biking around Denver," says Scott.
Owning a bike shop wasn't in the couple's plans, but their connection with the neighborhood pushed them to make Two-Wheel Feel a reality. "We've been watching the city change so much and it's been sad to see some of the older things go away," says Spero. "The shop was such a landmark — I can't think of too many places in Denver that have been around since 1934, so we were really happy to keep this spot going. Having the coffee shop next door, it was sad to watch — as the neighborhood was getting better, Tito's health was going the opposite way. It was hard. We've always loved bikes, so we just started talking to him about what we could do to keep the place going."
Although the old Collins' Bicycles signs are still up — the Speros are waiting for new signage to come in — Two-Wheel Feel is definitely open for business at 3217 East Colfax. (For more information on the shop, visit Two-Wheel Feel on Facebook.) In September, Hooked on Colfax and the Speros will celebrate ten years on the fabled strip. Here's to decades more of their great bicycle shop on Colfax, too.
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