As a sequel to my last post about my most favourite bicycle shop in the world ever, and why it is THE magnet which keeps attracting me, here’s the story of the latest shopping visit there.
The proprietor, Stefan Stettler, had provided me with some good advice about what any visitor needs to do in preparation for a visit to his shop, so naturally, I prepared well. My wife and I turned up to his shop on a Saturday morning and we were greeted warmly by Stefan. I was wearing clothes that either wash oil off well, or were old-ish and disposable. My wife wasn’t wearing appropriate clothes and didn’t intend on exploring anything other than the town of Avenches. I had a head torch, plenty of time and a list of what I wanted. This visit was 2 weeks after the last one, and was basically justified because I had missed something off my previous list. This missing item therefore became the reason for the second list and another visit. I needed a replacement chainring for a recent Cannondale Freeride project (see the ‘Freerides first ride’ post), so I switched on my head torch and entered the dark corridor where chainsets covering a period of over 100 years rested, and waiting for someone like me to re-introduce them to daylight and a bicycle again. I found a box full of NOS (new old stock) chain rings and eventually found exactly what I needed. I also found a NOS vintage Shimano LX mountain bike chainset, which whilst it wasn’t on the list, went in the shopping basket as it fell immediately into the category of ‘too good to leave behind’. My shopping basket was actually the first item that I decided would be mine, and which was also spotted and admired by my wife. It is a 1930s tool tray, with a number 13 on it, and perfect for carrying tools around the place, and as a shopping basket at Stefan’s place.
I wasn’t the only (prepared) customer there either. There was a another man and his wife/partner, who were looking for things in the area where the vintage car parts were stored. I could hear them moving things around in a room upstairs and every now and again, the man’s wife/partner would come down with some metal car parts and place them in a pile at the shop entrance in readiness for price calculation and dealing. Stefan said that the man was an artist and regularly bought parts to make into metal sculptures etc. The artist’s pile of parts included a crankshaft from a 3 cylinder DKW car, so it will be interesting to see what he does with that. I headed to an area in the building that I had missed out last time I visited and commenced my new journey. This new-to-me area was under the speakers of the ‘sound system’, which had the local Swiss radio station playing several songs by Oasis, Nirvana and the B52s, and with local businesses advertising in between each song. I immediately found something that wasn’t on the shopping list, which is amazing, and must be very rare. It was a small cardboard box which contained some brackets that shortened the pedal cranks so that a child could pedal a grown-up’s bicycle easier. I’d never see these before and everything was there in the box to enable fitting. Needless to say, it went in the tool tray/shopping basket.
Whilst I was discovering another corridor and rooms that I had somehow missed in my previous visit, Stefan was updating my wife on the recent archaeological finds that had been unearthed. There was some construction going on close to Stefan’s shop and two Roman skeletons had been uncovered during the digging, so there was obviously an air of excitement in the area. As I mentioned in my first post, Avenches was a massive Roman centre, so every time somebody does some digging, something or somebody very old turns up. Whilst I was searching through interesting stuff, my wife spotted a really nice, metal, red tool box in amongst the rest of the ‘stock’, so that went in the growing ‘buying pile’ as well. I found the next items on my list, which was a front brake caliper and lever for my custom bicycle. I also bought some NOS Shimano chains, a bottle cage and some cable ties. What wasn’t on the list and went into the ‘basket-tool tray’ were some vintage bicycle tools. All of them were made by the famous VAR company and included a chain splitter, a bottom bracket tightening tool and a headset tool. They had come out of an old bike shop and they bear the years of use in their appearance as you will see in the photo below. They also smell old and have an oily-smooth feel to them.
The other things on the list included a new mountain bike tyre and inner tube. I have a vintage Cannondale DH4000 down-hill bicycle and it has a modern ‘front end’ (suspension, handlebars, brakes etc) fitted to it, which is a great performance upgrade. I bought the bicycle without its original ‘front end’, and over the last 12 months, I’ve been slowly and carefully, buying the original parts. The only thing that was preventing me from re-building the completed front suspension and controls assembly, was a tyre and inner tube. Needless to say, I found a NOS tyre and inner tube, which naturally went on the pile of stuff to buy. Whilst I will keep the more modern ‘front end’ on the Cannondale, having the original parts makes it more desirable, more complete and hopefully, more valuable…….
My wife and I agreed to meet up at the shop after her walk around the town of Avenches, which she said was a bit disappointing as the great cafe and patisserie that I had enthused about, was shut as they were on holiday. Avenches, or Aventicum as the Romans knew it, is a great area to visit (especially when the cafe is open…), and you can check the town and area out using this link https://www.avenches.ch/en/
Back to the spending outcomes, I had placed all of my shopping on the floor for Stefan to calculate a price, which he did, and I agreed to. Cash is exchanged (no credit card facility here) for parts and we shake hands, then my wife and I head off back to the car. As usual, my hands are covered in oil and dirt from my shopping-exploring-experience and unfortunately, the hand wipes we have in the car are fine for cleaning quite clean hands, but not for oily hands. Next time, I need to be more prepared and have some really good hand wipes in the car.
As a reminder, you can reach Stefan on +41 796306840 and the shop address is: 10 Route de Donatyre, Avenches, Vaud, Switzerland.
On a slightly different subject, but equally creative, I sat down with a glass of wine, pen and paper one evening recently and came up with a ‘never miss a marketing opportunity’ logo and brand. So, below is the slightly unpolished, but wholly relevant (in my view) new logo and brand for this site. Now I need to do one for my other site, ‘Diary of a Motorcycling Nobody’ which you can access at the top of this page or click here https://diaryofamotorcyclingnobody.com.
All photos by the Author