Issue 05: Dottie’s Bike Shop

By Zanne

We’re a full service bike shop, as long as your works of art are purchased. I see it as a membership to a club.

Wanted:: Experienced welder who loves steel and understands bicycles. Minimum 40 hours a week. Must have 3 years welding experience.

About :: I have been building custom bikes for the last 4 years, and I have customer orders for the next 18 months. I deliver the perfect fit for the perfect ride. If you have an eye for detail and excellence, this could be the perfect fit for you. Don’t email, call me, job starts immediately in my shop or yours.

John placed the ad in two local papers and the local classified ads website. Within two hours, the calls started coming in. “No, I need someone full time.” or “How big is your shop?” and “Great, see you tomorrow morning.” He hired a welder immediately over the phone, agreed to meet two more in their shops later that afternoon, Stella, his wife, organized all the applicants details and the way the orders had been coming in, she was sure he was going to need a lot more help. Stella had started helping with the business end of John’s custom bikes, working at night after her own job.

“I don’t know how Dottie’s Bikes is selling so many of these.” John was dumbfounded. His business had increased 300% over the last six months. The phone rang.

“It’s her!”, Stella whispered, covering the phone with her hand as she passed it to John, her eyes wide.

“Hi John, do you think you can deliver another thirty-seven bikes?” It was Dottie. Her voice was smooth, John wondered what she looked like. She sounded young.

“Dottie, I hired a few more welders today so it shouldn’t be a problem, when do you need them?” His mind racing trying to figure out how he was going to deliver.

“I really need six more this week, if you can, then I need the other thirty-one in five weeks. Can you manage that?”

John thought for a moment. “I won’t sacrifice quality, so I’ll deliver you some this week and I’ll shoot for the balance in five weeks, but I can’t promise you how many. I’ll check in with you as we get closer.”

“Thanks John, your work is wildly popular and I like to keep my customers happy. Happy customers keep us all busy. I’ll shoot you an email with all the spec details.” Dottie hung up.

Four of the seven he had completed matched the some of the specs Dottie had sent, he crated them up and Stella made arrangements with the freight company for shipping.


Stella was amazed, “How did you get these all done? Do the bike fairies visit every night?”

John was exhausted. He had hired three more welders and found another painter. “I am three short. But these are quality pieces I’d sign my name to.” Stella nodded. “I need some time off. I thought I would rent a truck and drive all of these into the city myself.”

“You should go, it’s only a days drive and you should probably meet Dottie. I want to know how she sells so many of these. They are worth every penny, but they are not inexpensive.” Stella had her hands on her hips.

John nodded, “I don’t know how she does it. I can never keep her on the phone long enough get any conversation going. She must be busy.”

The last time he spoke to Dottie, it was 10pm, there was noise in the background, music playing, people talking. He had to shout so she could hear him. “She must have had some people over.” John shrugged at Stella after he hung up. “She was having a conversation with someone else the same time, telling them where the vodka was.”

Stella smiled, “She lives in a hot city, must be party all the time.”


John packed the crates into the truck the night before. He woke early, Stella cooked him a big breakfast and handed him a thermos of coffee for the road. “Call me when you get there.” She kissed him on the cheek.

Dottie’s Bike Shop was easy to find. He mapped it out, but she provided all the landmarks. It was right where she said it would be. The center of the industrial district was a hub of shops, restaurants, cool bars and night clubs.

He had left early enough to meet Dottie at noon, there was plenty of parking, he arrived before the lunch rush. He parked in front of Dotties.

The storefront was clean and simple, a big window framed with steel beams reaching almost the entire length of the building, cut into a giant concrete slab. Three of John’s bikes were staged against a white wall, preventing anyone from seeing into the shop. The door, made with frosted glass, was to the left of the big window, in white lights over the door was a sign, “BIKE SHOP”. A camera was discreetly placed above the door, John looked up and tried to push the door open. It was locked. He knocked and waited. There was no answer. He looked around for a sign with hours. He was sure Dottie said she would be here all day, she must be in the back and couldn’t hear him knocking. He waved at the camera, and knocked again, noticing a button. He pushed it, leaving his finger on it for a moment, probably too long.

“Hello?” A groggy voice spoke to him through the buzzer box.

“Is Dottie here?” John shouted into the box.

“Please make an appointment.” The voice sounded irritated.

“I have one, I’m John, here to deliver the bikes.”

“Oh, one moment please.” The voice had friendlied up.

John stood outside the door for more than a few moments, looking up and down the street. Lots of restaurants and clubs, not a lot of daytime action. Kind of a strange place for a bike shop, but most bike shops were in strange places anyway.

A young woman, squinting appeared, opening the door for John.

“Are you Dottie?” She was wearing pajamas and a robe, wearing her eye mask like a headband, it held her long brown hair up and away from her face. She stepped aside as John walked in.

“No, I’m Amy. I just called Dottie, she should be here in about an hour. Come in, I’m making coffee, how do you take yours?” Amy rubbed her eyes and yawned into the back of her hand. “Sorry, it was a late night.”

John nodded and smiled. “I take it black.”

“Have a seat, there are some magazines on the table. I’ll be right back.” Amy walked behind the counter and out through the back hall. He could hear her slippers as she shuffled away from him.

John stood in the middle of the room where Amy had left him. There were no windows, the light was coming over the white wall, blocking any view to the outside. Red velvet couches in the shape of kidney beans were sprinkled throughout the room. Glass tables sat throughout, magazines piled underneath them. Modern, yet abstract bicycle art decorated the walls. “Wow, this is a pretty fancy bike shop.” John sniffed, he didn’t even smell grease.

He walked over to the front counter, a tall dark wood paneled piece with a modern silver and glass lamp sitting on top. On the counter was black leather portfolio, embossed with silver lettering “MENU”. John flipped it open, it was a list of services. Dottie not only sold his bikes, but maintained them as well. He grabbed the menu and sat in the red velvet couch across the room, against the far wall.

He started to skim through the list of services. It all seemed pretty basic, but what caught him was the note at the bottom. “All custom bikes start at $10,000. Bikes must be purchased to take advantage of our services. Only bikes purchased at Dottie’s will be serviced. Thank you.” Signed “Dottie”, she had hand written this in red ink.

John read it again. She was charging $10,000 for each of his bikes. That was almost a 200% markup. He didn’t realize he could get so much for his bikes. He looked up, doing the math in his head. He would have to talk to Stella about this. She could quit her job.

Amy walked back in, carrying a tray with a french press and coffee mug. She put it down on the table in front of him, pressed the coffee, poured him a mug and handed it to him. “Dottie just called, she’s just a few minutes away. I’m going to get dressed, do you need anything?”

John shook his head no and Amy disappeared into the back again. He looked at the number, $10,000.00. He was delivering 28 bikes today, his heart started pounding, he pulled out his phone to dial Stella, he needed to let her know he had made it anyway.

“Hello.” John loved the sound of her voice.

“Hi, I made it. You would not believe this place.” John paused, looking up. Someone was walking in. “I gotta go, I’ll call you back in a bit. Love you.” He hung up before Stella could say anything.

A tall blond woman walked in, wearing a silky creme top, tight jeans and tall black boots. She looked around the room and smiled when she saw John, walking over to him immediately. “Hi John, I’m so glad you could make it, I’m Dottie.” She stuck her hand out, he walked forward to shake her hand.

“It’s nice to meet you. This is a sweet place you’ve got. I’ve never seen such a nice bike shop.” John beamed at her.

Dottie eyed the menu in his hand. “I see you’ve been checking out our services. “We’re a full service bike shop, as long as your works of art are purchased. I see it as a membership to a club.”

John folded his hands in front of him, “You sure do sell a lot of my bikes, thank you.”

Dottie beamed at him. “Thank you John. Your work is impeccable, we don’t advertise, our business grows only by word of mouth, and the word is, your bikes are amazing. Thanks for working to get so many done these past few weeks, I know it is demanding.”

“It’s not a problem, I’m glad I was able to bring what I could today. As I mentioned on the phone, quality won’t be sacrificed, I put my name on each bike.”

Dottie looked at John, smiling. “I’m sure you do.”

“I’ll ask the boys to meet you out back and unload the truck.” Dottie dropped her bag on the counter. “I see Amy helped you with coffee, she is the sweetest thing, isn’t she?”

John nodded, smiling. “Does she live here?”

Dottie laughed, “Yes, she does, upstairs.”

“I’ll drive around the back so we can start unloading.” John pointed behind his shoulder at the door. The bright sun caused him to squint as he got into the cab of the truck. He wondered where the retail part of the bike shop was. He didn’t see the usual jerseys, wheels, bike gear that he was used to seeing. Maybe there was another room that he didn’t get to see. He drove down the alley, Amy was waiting for him at the loading dock.

Three big men appeared out of nowhere, they didn’t look like skinny cyclists, unloading the crates in less time than it would have taken John. He tried to help, but Amy waved her finger at him and he stepped aside. Once the truck was empty, the three men disappeared through a doorway. A few moments later, Dottie came in. “Should we open some of these up?” John pulled out his screw driver and started pulling a box open. He pulled out the first bike. Dottie smiled. “John, this is beautiful. You do such nice work.”

John helped Dottie arrange the unpacked bikes in the warehouse. “My mechanics will be in this afternoon to add the components. I found these wonderful leather seats in Italy, the clients love them.” John nodded, examining the swoop of the seat. It was nice, this probably added another $1000 to his bike, easily.

“I’ve got some work to do John, why don’t you go to your hotel and get checked in. Come back later, we can have dinner.”


“Stella, you would not believe this place, I’ll take pictures when I go back later.” John had checked into his hotel, it was only a few miles from Dottie’s. “She’s putting real Italian leather seats on these bikes. I’ve never seen anything like it. And, here’s the kicker, she’s charging $10,000 a piece for my bikes.”

Stella was silent.

“I wish you had come with me. There are some nice restaurants near by, we could have had fun together.”

“John, if you started selling these bikes direct, we could work on your business full time. I could leave the insurance agency, we could pay off the house.” John could hear the excitement starting to well up in her.

“I know babe. I just can’t believe it. I’m going to shower then go back and have dinner. I’ll call you tonight. I love you Stella.” John hung up.

He took a long shower, and wandered around his room in his robe, running through the possibilities over and over again. There was a knock at the door.

A tall woman with long brown curly hair in navy dickies was standing in the doorway. “Hi, I’m Cindy, the bike mechanic, I’m here to test your brakes.” She had a beautiful smile.

“I don’t have a bike here.” John, smiled back, but shook his head, confused.

She wasn’t listening, “Can I come in and fix your flat?” Cindy smiled, looking down the hall. John noticed the name on her shirt, “Dottie’s Bike Shop.”

“Oh, you’re from Dotties.” John looked at her, even more confused, stepping aside to let her in.

She smiled as she walked past him, “We are a full service bike shop.”


Zanne has never been in a bike shop with red plush sofas. www.zannestars.com

Wanted:: Experienced welder who loves steel and understands bicycles. Minimum 40 hours a week. Must have 3 years welding experience. About :: I have been building custom bikes for the last 4 years, and I have customer orders for the next 18 months. I deliver the perfect fit for the perfect ride. If you have an eye for detail and excellence, this could be the perfect fit for you. Don’t email, call me, job starts immediately in my shop or yours.

John placed the ad in two local papers and the local classified ads website. Within two hours, the calls started coming in. “No, I need someone full time.” or “How big is your shop?” and “Great, see you tomorrow morning.” He hired a welder immediately over the phone, agreed to meet two more in their shops later that afternoon, Stella, his wife, organized all the applicants details and the way the orders had been coming in, she was sure he was going to need a lot more help. Stella had started helping with the business end of John’s custom bikes, working at night after her own job.

“I don’t know how Dottie’s Bikes is selling so many of these.” John was dumbfounded. His business had increased 300% over the last six months. The phone rang.

“It’s her!”, Stella whispered, covering the phone with her hand as she passed it to John, her eyes wide.

“Hi John, do you think you can deliver another thirty-seven bikes?” It was Dottie. Her voice was smooth, John wondered what she looked like. She sounded young.

“Dottie, I hired a few more welders today so it shouldn’t be a problem, when do you need them?” His mind racing trying to figure out how he was going to deliver.

“I really need six more this week, if you can, then I need the other thirty-one in five weeks. Can you manage that?”

John thought for a moment. “I won’t sacrifice quality, so I’ll deliver you some this week and I’ll shoot for the balance in five weeks, but I can’t promise you how many. I’ll check in with you as we get closer.”

“Thanks John, your work is wildly popular and I like to keep my customers happy. Happy customers keep us all busy. I’ll shoot you an email with all the spec details.” Dottie hung up.

Four of the seven he had completed matched the some of the specs Dottie had sent, he crated them up and Stella made arrangements with the freight company for shipping.


Stella was amazed, “How did you get these all done? Do the bike fairies visit every night?”

John was exhausted. He had hired three more welders and found another painter. “I am three short. But these are quality pieces I’d sign my name to.” Stella nodded. “I need some time off. I thought I would rent a truck and drive all of these into the city myself.”

“You should go, it’s only a days drive and you should probably meet Dottie. I want to know how she sells so many of these. They are worth every penny, but they are not inexpensive.” Stella had her hands on her hips.

John nodded, “I don’t know how she does it. I can never keep her on the phone long enough get any conversation going. She must be busy.”

The last time he spoke to Dottie, it was 10pm, there was noise in the background, music playing, people talking. He had to shout so she could hear him. “She must have had some people over.” John shrugged at Stella after he hung up. “She was having a conversation with someone else the same time, telling them where the vodka was.”

Stella smiled, “She lives in a hot city, must be party all the time.”


John packed the crates into the truck the night before. He woke early, Stella cooked him a big breakfast and handed him a thermos of coffee for the road. “Call me when you get there.” She kissed him on the cheek.

Dottie’s Bike Shop was easy to find. He mapped it out, but she provided all the landmarks. It was right where she said it would be. The center of the industrial district was a hub of shops, restaurants, cool bars and night clubs.

He had left early enough to meet Dottie at noon, there was plenty of parking, he arrived before the lunch rush. He parked in front of Dotties.

The storefront was clean and simple, a big window framed with steel beams reaching almost the entire length of the building, cut into a giant concrete slab. Three of John’s bikes were staged against a white wall, preventing anyone from seeing into the shop. The door, made with frosted glass, was to the left of the big window, in white lights over the door was a sign, “BIKE SHOP”. A camera was discreetly placed above the door, John looked up and tried to push the door open. It was locked. He knocked and waited. There was no answer. He looked around for a sign with hours. He was sure Dottie said she would be here all day, she must be in the back and couldn’t hear him knocking. He waved at the camera, and knocked again, noticing a button. He pushed it, leaving his finger on it for a moment, probably too long.

“Hello?” A groggy voice spoke to him through the buzzer box.

“Is Dottie here?” John shouted into the box.

“Please make an appointment.” The voice sounded irritated.

“I have one, I’m John, here to deliver the bikes.”

“Oh, one moment please.” The voice had friendlied up.

John stood outside the door for more than a few moments, looking up and down the street. Lots of restaurants and clubs, not a lot of daytime action. Kind of a strange place for a bike shop, but most bike shops were in strange places anyway.

A young woman, squinting appeared, opening the door for John.

“Are you Dottie?” She was wearing pajamas and a robe, wearing her eye mask like a headband, it held her long brown hair up and away from her face. She stepped aside as John walked in.

“No, I’m Amy. I just called Dottie, she should be here in about an hour. Come in, I’m making coffee, how do you take yours?” Amy rubbed her eyes and yawned into the back of her hand. “Sorry, it was a late night.”

John nodded and smiled. “I take it black.”

“Have a seat, there are some magazines on the table. I’ll be right back.” Amy walked behind the counter and out through the back hall. He could hear her slippers as she shuffled away from him.

John stood in the middle of the room where Amy had left him. There were no windows, the light was coming over the white wall, blocking any view to the outside. Red velvet couches in the shape of kidney beans were sprinkled throughout the room. Glass tables sat throughout, magazines piled underneath them. Modern, yet abstract bicycle art decorated the walls. “Wow, this is a pretty fancy bike shop.” John sniffed, he didn’t even smell grease.

He walked over to the front counter, a tall dark wood paneled piece with a modern silver and glass lamp sitting on top. On the counter was black leather portfolio, embossed with silver lettering “MENU”. John flipped it open, it was a list of services. Dottie not only sold his bikes, but maintained them as well. He grabbed the menu and sat in the red velvet couch across the room, against the far wall.

He started to skim through the list of services. It all seemed pretty basic, but what caught him was the note at the bottom. “All custom bikes start at $10,000. Bikes must be purchased to take advantage of our services. Only bikes purchased at Dottie’s will be serviced. Thank you.” Signed “Dottie”, she had hand written this in red ink.

John read it again. She was charging $10,000 for each of his bikes. That was almost a 200% markup. He didn’t realize he could get so much for his bikes. He looked up, doing the math in his head. He would have to talk to Stella about this. She could quit her job.

Amy walked back in, carrying a tray with a french press and coffee mug. She put it down on the table in front of him, pressed the coffee, poured him a mug and handed it to him. “Dottie just called, she’s just a few minutes away. I’m going to get dressed, do you need anything?”

John shook his head no and Amy disappeared into the back again. He looked at the number, $10,000.00. He was delivering 28 bikes today, his heart started pounding, he pulled out his phone to dial Stella, he needed to let her know he had made it anyway.

“Hello.” John loved the sound of her voice.

“Hi, I made it. You would not believe this place.” John paused, looking up. Someone was walking in. “I gotta go, I’ll call you back in a bit. Love you.” He hung up before Stella could say anything.

A tall blond woman walked in, wearing a silky creme top, tight jeans and tall black boots. She looked around the room and smiled when she saw John, walking over to him immediately. “Hi John, I’m so glad you could make it, I’m Dottie.” She stuck her hand out, he walked forward to shake her hand.

“It’s nice to meet you. This is a sweet place you’ve got. I’ve never seen such a nice bike shop.” John beamed at her.

Dottie eyed the menu in his hand. “I see you’ve been checking out our services. “We’re a full service bike shop, as long as your works of art are purchased. I see it as a membership to a club.”

John folded his hands in front of him, “You sure do sell a lot of my bikes, thank you.”

Dottie beamed at him. “Thank you John. Your work is impeccable, we don’t advertise, our business grows only by word of mouth, and the word is, your bikes are amazing. Thanks for working to get so many done these past few weeks, I know it is demanding.”

“It’s not a problem, I’m glad I was able to bring what I could today. As I mentioned on the phone, quality won’t be sacrificed, I put my name on each bike.”

Dottie looked at John, smiling. “I’m sure you do.”

“I’ll ask the boys to meet you out back and unload the truck.” Dottie dropped her bag on the counter. “I see Amy helped you with coffee, she is the sweetest thing, isn’t she?”

John nodded, smiling. “Does she live here?”

Dottie laughed, “Yes, she does, upstairs.”

“I’ll drive around the back so we can start unloading.” John pointed behind his shoulder at the door. The bright sun caused him to squint as he got into the cab of the truck. He wondered where the retail part of the bike shop was. He didn’t see the usual jerseys, wheels, bike gear that he was used to seeing. Maybe there was another room that he didn’t get to see. He drove down the alley, Amy was waiting for him at the loading dock.

Three big men appeared out of nowhere, they didn’t look like skinny cyclists, unloading the crates in less time than it would have taken John. He tried to help, but Amy waved her finger at him and he stepped aside. Once the truck was empty, the three men disappeared through a doorway. A few moments later, Dottie came in. “Should we open some of these up?” John pulled out his screw driver and started pulling a box open. He pulled out the first bike. Dottie smiled. “John, this is beautiful. You do such nice work.”

John helped Dottie arrange the unpacked bikes in the warehouse. “My mechanics will be in this afternoon to add the components. I found these wonderful leather seats in Italy, the clients love them.” John nodded, examining the swoop of the seat. It was nice, this probably added another $1000 to his bike, easily.

“I’ve got some work to do John, why don’t you go to your hotel and get checked in. Come back later, we can have dinner.”


“Stella, you would not believe this place, I’ll take pictures when I go back later.” John had checked into his hotel, it was only a few miles from Dottie’s. “She’s putting real Italian leather seats on these bikes. I’ve never seen anything like it. And, here’s the kicker, she’s charging $10,000 a piece for my bikes.”

Stella was silent.

“I wish you had come with me. There are some nice restaurants near by, we could have had fun together.”

“John, if you started selling these bikes direct, we could work on your business full time. I could leave the insurance agency, we could pay off the house.” John could hear the excitement starting to well up in her.

“I know babe. I just can’t believe it. I’m going to shower then go back and have dinner. I’ll call you tonight. I love you Stella.” John hung up.

He took a long shower, and wandered around his room in his robe, running through the possibilities over and over again. There was a knock at the door.

A tall woman with long brown curly hair in navy dickies was standing in the doorway. “Hi, I’m Cindy, the bike mechanic, I’m here to test your brakes.” She had a beautiful smile.

“I don’t have a bike here.” John, smiled back, but shook his head, confused.

She wasn’t listening, “Can I come in and fix your flat?” Cindy smiled, looking down the hall. John noticed the name on her shirt, “Dottie’s Bike Shop.”

“Oh, you’re from Dotties.” John looked at her, even more confused, stepping aside to let her in.

She smiled as she walked past him, “We are a full service bike shop.”

Ed. note: Zanne has never been in a bike shop with red plush sofas.


Ed. note: After a good run of 42 issues, our magazine app is no
longer available, but we’ve archived
the
content here on our blog.


Ed. note: After a good run of 42 issues, our magazine app is no
longer available, but we’ve archived
the
content here on our blog.


Also published on Medium.