Somervelo, Somerville’s Newest Bike Repair Shop, Opens In Union Square
After years of managing and working in other people’s stores, JT Hargrove and Tom Estrada decided it was time to start their own.
Around two years ago, JT Hargrove and Tom Estrada were sitting on a porch having a beer when they tossed around the idea of opening a bike-repair business that services people’s rides in record time. “It was one of those late-night ‘let’s start a bar!’ type conversations, but then we were like, we actually know how to do this, we should start thinking about this,” said Hargrove.
Last weekend that conversation turned into a reality when the pair officially opened the doors to their own shop, called Somervelo. “It’s going really good so far. It’s already been pretty busy,” said Hargrove, co-owner of Somerville’s newest bike repair location, which is tucked away on Somerville Avenue in Union Square. “A lot of people have been walking and riding by and stopping in. Everyone has been super positive.”
For years, Hargrove and Estrada worked in a multitude of shops all around Boston, either as mechanics or managers. Once they decided it was time to branch off and begin their own business, they were careful to let the process grow organically, and spent months servicing repairs from Hargrove’s garage in Somerville while Hargrove’s wife, Monica, built their brand strategy and visual identity. When the time was right, they finally moved all of their tools to Union Square, and last Saturday they rolled out their services. They are tentatively planning a grand opening celebration sometime this month.
While Somerville already has a handful of shops in neighborhoods like Davis and Magoun Square, which are quick to tune up or repair people’s bikes on a regular basis, Hargrove and Estrada, two friends who met on a whim years back while working as bike couriers, are taking a different approach to how they handle customers’ needs. “We just fix bikes, we don’t need to sell bikes,” said Hargrove. “There are other shops that sell bikes and we felt we didn’t need to compete with that. We just wanted to be able to have a fast turnaround for bike repairs. People can come in, drop it off, and come in the next day and it will be ready.”
To speed up the repair process, Hargrove and Estrada launched a website along with their store opening that allows customers to put in specific requests prior to arriving at Somervelo. This way, the shop owners can anticipate the incoming customers, and lock-in time slots for their bicycle queries. “If someone has a flat, I know it’s coming in, so I book off that time,” said Hargrove. “Doing it this way it keeps the wait time down, and we can get people in and out of the door as quick as possible.”
Or if they want to linger around, that’s OK with Hargrove and Estrada, too. Part of the ambition behind opening Somervelo in Union Square was to foster the bicycling community, and make it a place where riders feel comfortable bringing their bikes and meeting new people. “I live in Union, and I just love the area and the community of small businesses, and everyone working together and just supporting each other,” said Hargrove. “We want to have a shop where people can feel they can hang out, and not be forced to buy something. If someone wants to come in and hang, we’re cool with that.”