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Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

From Commuter Bikes to Roller Derby to Longboards

Bigfoot proudly serves Bay View

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Since setting up shop in 2009, Bigfoot Bike and Skate has proven itself a valuable asset to the Milwaukee cycling, roller-skating and skateboarding communities. The Bay View establishment just moved into a larger space (250 E. Ward St.) and this week Off the Cuff sat down with owner Brian Curtiss to discuss his background, what makes Bigfoot unique and the store’s future.

Can you tell me about your background and how Bigfoot got started?

I grew up in Kenosha and started working at a shop called Ski & Sports Chalet in the early ’80s. I was a local BMX and skateboarder kid.

I have a varied background but I’ve always built custom bikes for people and I’ve always cut handmade custom skateboards. I started the bike shop August of 2009. And that was really just a repair shop and I was sponsoring the local roller derby league. I think I had six used bikes and a credit card when I started. [laughs]

What sets Bigfoot apart from other bike and skate shops?

First of all, roller derby—that’s the fastest-growing sport in America. And we sponsor the men’s, women’s, youth and recreational leagues. We offer all of them the same discounted prices. A lot of little leagues throughout Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota come here because we’re an honest-to-goodness brick-and-mortar shop where you can try stuff on. We’ve also had skaters from France, New Zealand and Japan.

Also, myself and Sky High Skates are the only two skateboard shops in Milwaukee these days. We’re thriving with skateboards and we specialize in longboard skateboards and ’80s stuff.

And the bikes we do are unique too. Where a lot of shops are going to do road bikes and mountain bikes, we do a lot of commuter-based European-style bikes with a Dutch-ey flair—things that are set up with racks and fenders, ready to ride to work. And then a lot of single-speed stuff is popular in this neighborhood, like fixed gear. Adult BMX is a really fast-growing market. A lot of retro stuff. And of course regular BMX. We’re trying to fill a void that other bike shops aren’t doing and I think that is our ace in the hole.

What are you looking forward to most about the new Ward Street location?

Well, space. We’re tripling our space—going from about 1,400 square feet to 4,500 square feet. Our repair business is just skyrocketing. The new place will be an open floor plan and it’s being built to suit so it’ll be a much more personalized space.

Do you have any special events planned for your grand opening on Bay View Gallery Night?

I do. We always participate. We do graphics on skateboards by local artists. This next art show is going to be retro minis: 1970s-style small skateboards. We have local artists who are painting those and our theme is “patterns.” We do still have some blanks left if people want to get in on that show. I would want people to pick them up no later than Sept. 13 and return them by the 20th. We can either try to sell it for an artist or hook them up with someone who might be interested in their art.

We will also have live music that night from about 7-10 p.m. Merle Pinkens is going to do a mixed split set, acoustic and electric, pre-’70s country, pre-’70s rock ’n’ roll so it’ll be a really old-school kind of fun.

 

Bigfoot’s grand opening takes place on Bay View Gallery Night, Friday, Sept. 26. To learn more, visit bigfootbikeandskate.com or call 414-332-3479.