Why buy handmade?

We don’t have to sell you on the merits of the bicycle as transportation—you’re here. You’re already in the choir. But maybe you want to hear us preach on why you should buy from us instead of off the shelf at your closest big box store. You worked hard for your dollars. Why spend a few more of them on a handmade product?

Plenty of well-meaning folks have pointed out that we could charge less if we outsourced. They’re right. But we have very different goals and very different motivations for being in business. We like working with our hands. We are creatives and creators; we are also problem-solvers. We saw a deficiency in the cycling gear out there, and we devised a solution. We aren’t aiming to get rich or to get on the shelves at that big box. What we do want is to spend our days putting something of use into the world—and then, of course, go for a ride.

Bike-Ready is built on a very specific scale. I like to think of it as the entrepreneurial equivalent of ditching your car for a bicycle: will you go as far and as fast? Nope. But will you feel more integrated into your environment, more in touch with your neighborhood, and a little quieter in your mind? Yes, most certainly.

We are proud to join the ever-growing ranks of small outfits making great gear for cyclists. Those other makers are our colleagues, not our competition. We all make beautiful, useful products that will get more butts on bike seats—there is no better goal. We have enormous respect for the bigger players, too, but we aren’t (nor will we ever be) Chrome or Timbuk 2 or Ortlieb. Could we offer a lower price point if we contracted out to a US manufacturer? Probably. To an overseas factory? Definitely. But would it fit with our mission? Not really.

We recognize that quality goods handmade here in our home country are by their very nature pricey. But we also believe that the price tag is the wrong measure of value, in this and in most (if not all) other things. By way of example: in the past few years, we’ve been buying more and more of our food directly from local farmers. It means we have to scrimp in other ways, but the value we get—healthier fuel for our bodies, a lower impact on our environment, support for our neighbors who grow our food—is worth the higher price tag.

Not everyone has the access to or the budget for organic, local food or, yes, handmade bicycle gear. We know this better than you might think, and we’ll be doing our small part to level the playing field. Individually, we already volunteer with our local cycling advocacy organization to increase the viability of cycling as transportation, something that’s particularly important for those who choose the bicycle because they have no other option for getting around. Our plans for growth include doing more to get bikes and gear and safe cycling instruction to folks who can least afford to buy them. We believe that business has social obligations, and we can’t wait to grow into that role. Your purchase will help us get there.

Meanwhile, we’re a tiny operation with spunk and vision and tenacity. I like to call us a nano-facturer, making our bags one at a time, by hand, right here in our home. It’s a labor of love and of faith and of hope.

So why buy handmade?

Because you’re supporting real people doing real work, who will in turn share their earnings with other small producers. You become part of a virtuous cycle that, in turn, spawns more of the same.

Because every piece is truly one-of-a-kind, and was made with care and joyful attention.

Because having a direct connection with the person who made your gear creates a wonderful sense of accountability and investment on both sides. When you know that Jessie or Dion made your bag, from first cut to last stitch, you know that your call or text or email or message or tweet won’t be ignored.

Because if you are dissatisfied with any aspect of our products or service, we’ll do what it takes to make it right. We are the customer service department, and we promise: no annoying hold music, no runaround. No one’s got more skin in the game than we do, and your satisfaction matters to us, immensely.

But what it really comes down to is this: we believe that handmade products, mindfully crafted and heart-fully offered, have soul. And we’d love to share that with you. So step into the store, won’t you, and take a look around!

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