KT Higgins of Velo Brooklyn bike shop.
As I pet two curled-up, matching black cats, KT Higgins gets up to grab the ringing phone that sites in a pile of bike tools and unopened gear. “Bike Shop,” she says, and answers a few questions before sitting down with the cats and me.
In its six months of existence, this unassuming building on DeKalb Avenue has been called “Brooklyn Bikes,” “Bike Shop,” and most recently, “Velo Brooklyn.” With nothing but a hanging canvas sign to mark its place, this one-room, woman-owned bike shop is evolving as rapidly as the neighborhood it occupies.
“I’m that person with the very ugly bike all the time,” KT tells me, as we chat about the aesthetics of our bikes (she doesn’t technically own one). Empty soy milk and beer bottles line the front counter, as a pile of vintage, rehabbed and custom bikes dominate the room. Her shop is a part-time gallery space in the evening, and the left wall is consistently lined with friends’ artwork. With a stash of gear that any Bushwick hipster would drool over, fluorescent bar grips and pink road rims are on display, with colored chains, tires and every shape of handlebar your brain can muster.
“At my first job at a bike shop ten years ago, I was the ‘sales chick’. There were no other girls working there,” KT laughs. “I was a bike messenger, so I got a job as the sales chick to get free tires.”
Since then, KT worked her way from “sales chick” to bike mechanic at a slew of Manhattan locations before heading to Bushwick, where she now lives in the garden apartment below her shop. Unlike a typical bike shop with staff that waits for you to come to them, KT is always talking to a customer. “Our shop is all about service, and we teach as we work. We’re not gonna judge you when you come in, and we avoid those strict bike shop rules that alienate people from the cycling community.”
Velo will take your used parts donations to keep beater bikes on the road, and KT’s not afraid to give a freebie every once in awhile. It’s the “not charging you for every little thing” that makes her shop unlike any other shop in the city. But she’s a pretty good sales chick, too.
1342 DeKalb | 347-405-7966