BUCKTOWN — A cycling gear and apparel store that frequently organizes group bike rides and other events is reopening this weekend in Bucktown.
Rapha Chicago reopens Saturday at 1714 N. Damen Ave., just south of the The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail. The store is moving from its previous home at 1514 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park, where it opened in 2016.
The London-based company sells cycling shorts, jerseys, helmets, gloves, shoes and pretty much “everything but the bike,” general manager Rory Jack said.
“Our bread and butter is definitely wearable accessories and clothing for a whole range of different cyclists,” Jack said. “The commuter, the mountain biker up to the road cyclists, everyone in between.”
The company moved a few blocks north in part because it’s a safer location for cyclists, with the new store being somewhat removed from Wicker Park’s hectic Milwaukee Avenue corridor, Jack said.
“Where we were near the six corners, and Milwaukee in particular, is just kind of super busy. We’re happy to be in a little quieter of a spot,” Jack said. “It’s a little more manageable in size. It’s got a lot of nice building features that we’re excited about and it’s just something that helps us plan for the future.”
Since launching in Chicago in 2016, Rapha has organized group bikes rides that often begin at its store.
Many participants are part of Rapha’s local cycling club, which includes about 600 Midwest members, including 300 in the Chicago area, Jack said.
“It’s a big part of what we do, bringing people together in our space, outside of our space and trying to encourage them to ride together and ride with them as well,” he said.
Rapha locations around the world are also known for serving up espresso and coffee drinks.
The Bucktown location will still have coffee for customers and people who stop by, but it will not initially operate a cafe like it did at the Milwaukee Avenue location, Jack said.
A full cafe became “kind of a big expense chunk that we couldn’t really invest in, especially with how little time we had to move and find this new location, we just came down to budget and time,” Jack said. “We’re no longer going to be selling lattes, per se. We’re still going to offer it as a perk to customers.”
As staff prepare to reopen this weekend, Jack said he’s excited to welcome cyclists into the new space. The staff is also planning a grand reopening party Feb. 11.
“I like to think we’re kind of institution of the Chicago cycling community at this point,” Jack said. “We feel pretty established with our name recognition, and the amount of our product we see out on the street has been really positive.”
Rapha Chicago will be open 10 a.m.- 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays.
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