There are things the world needs less of. Poverty. Traffic. Condominiums.
Bike shops would not make the list. Fixers and sellers of bicycles are folks who only the most irascible curmudgeon would wish to see fewer in number. Yet, battle lines have been drawn in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood between the owners of high end condominiums and a bike shop owner whose store occupies the ground floor of the building. Recently I spoke with the owner of Big City Bikes, Saurabh Patel, who is fighting for his shop’s financial life. Before opening Big City in the summer of 2015, Saurabh asked the residential owners of the building at 2425 North Ashland Avenue to remove awnings in front of the commercial space. He wanted the awnings gone in order to enhance the visibility of his shop’s signage. Also, he felt that they were in disrepair, creating a safety hazard. The residents, through their condo association refused. Saurabh hired an attorney to make sure that he was within his rights to go ahead and remove the awnings. He was, so he did. The condominium residents sued him, threatening the shop’s existence. The matter is presently pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Saurabh’s attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the case and both sides are presently submitting written briefs. The circuit court’s website does not state a hearing date for the dismissal motion, but it appears that all briefs have now been submitted to the court. It seems likely that the judge will render a decision sometime this summer.
Big City Bikes’s focus is on single and fixed gear bikes that students and other young adults with modest budgets can afford. The retail shop remains open for business. But it is a struggle. In January DNAinfo.com profiled the shop and its current legal troubles. Saurabh told me that he appreciated the publicity but that despite the media outlet’s good intentions, the story gave the impression that Big City is closing. “We’re not shutting down,” Saurabh said. “We’re still open for business.” The legal bills are taking a big toll though. Though he and his attorneys feel confident that they are in the right, it is costing a lot of money to prove it. He has had to pay his attorney thousands to defend his rights. That’s a rough start for any new business, let alone a bike shop where profit margins are modest.
Through all of this Saurabh remains hopeful. His primary reason for contacting me (our law firm has no involvement in the case) was to say that Big City will continue. How many folks would have caved in to the wealthy condo owners? Saurabh vows to fight on to continue living his dream of owning and running a bike shop.