History of the shop. Formerly known as WTF Bikes. as told by Thomas Daly:
WTF Bikes began in 2009 as a collaboration between myself and the economic recession. I was laid off from my job and faced a pretty straightforward choice: go back into food-service or start my own bike business. I chose the latter, having tools and a small clientele already. In November of 2009, I was offered the opportunity to set up shop under a pop-up shelter in the parking lot of 1114 SE Clay St. My friend Cricket operated the Portland Free Store there and needed someone to watch the space while he went traveling. I took him up on it and the first couple weeks, while very cold, proved profitable. I talked the property manager into letting me rent the outdoor overhang area of the parking lot, set up a more permanent shop space, and planned a grand opening.
4 days before the grand opening, I was robbed. The space was broken into in the wee hours of the morning on 01/10/10. They took all of my tools and a few bikes, effectively cleaning me out.
This moment, while awful and traumatizing, actually proved to be pivotal in my success as a small shop. The community caught wind of it and I got a load of publicity, support, and donations. It boosted me into the spotlight which ended up being a huge help. Re-tooled and rocking some fresh new brand-awareness, I proceeded with the grand opening.
A few months later, the property manager took on some new clients, a small coffee cart called Boy Gorilla Coffee. I moved my shop indoors around that time and we all got pretty friendly. They were almost all musicians and we started having shows and parties at the shop. I’ll always look back on this time as the best and most fun period of WTFbikes. Among others, we hosted Surfer Blood, various Typhoon-adjacent projects, and the incredible FOC(Females of Color) Fest. This was a 2-day event showcasing badass female bands like Stag Bitten, Forest Park, Like a Villian, and tons more.
In late 2011, the property manager went on the lam and the building’s owner informed me that if I wanted to stay I would have to rent the whole place. That was $3600 a month in 2011 dollars and I simply couldn’t do it. After a bit of looking I found the new home for WTFbikes, 3117 SE Milwaukie Ave. I moved in December of 2011 and set up shop in a real turnkey retail space.
The last seven years have been a blur of seasonal shifts, deepening root structure, and striaght-up bicycle wizardry. While it’s been less eventful than the year I spent as an all-ages venue, it has proven profitable. I had my first long-term employee(and dear friend), Matt. I bought a house in 2014 and got married in 2015. My wife and I have gotten to travel a bit. We adopted two lovely kitties. Life has been peaceful and good, which is probably why I’m emboldened to go do new things.
The Brooklyn neighborhood remains near and dear to my heart, and sharing a wall with the Aladdin theater has satisfied my need to be connected to the world of music. I feel like that guy who was shivering in a 25 degree overhang all those years ago would be proud to see what his work created.
I know that TomCat Bikes will carry on the legacy that Well Tuned Fast(yes goddamnit that’s what it stands for) created, and I’m happy to my core to see it continue.
Thanks for everything.