New Orleans Small Business 12n12: Bokah Bikes
New Orleans Small Business 12n12 is a project, by local New Orleans photographer Traven Stout, that promotes one small business a month. The idea is to reach out to other business owners and simply connect with them, to relate with them, to offer help, and to look for help with running a business by yourself.
Hey, thanks for coming and checking out the 12n12 project. Originally this project was designed so I would photograph one business a month in 2020 (12 businesses in 12 months- 12n12) But then 2020 happened. So were a bit off schedule but I am committed to finishing this project by covering twelve businesses.
This piece is on Bokah Bikes with Andy. Bokah bikes is a bike shop that does restorations as well as repairs. I bought a sweet 70's Schwinn with suicide shifters from Andy a few years back. It's an awesome bike. Andy is a good friend and an awesome dude. I highly recommend taking a look in his shop if you are looking for a bike.
(me)What does your business do?
(Andy)We are a vintage bike shop. Micah and I recover and restore bikes from the 50’s to early 2000’s. We mainly work on 70’s 80’s and 90’s bikes. We also offer repairs, services, and we try to be a positive influence in the community, as well as a bike shop where you feel welcomed, accepted, and not judged.
(me)How long have you been in operation?
(Andy)Technically we have been in operation for about 5 years, we have been incorporated for at least that long, too. We have been in this commercial spot for about three and a half years. Before that we were in a warehouse space for a year and a half; and before that we were just working out of my backyard.
(me)What is something people don’t know about your business that you want them to know?
(Andy) I mean I do not like to say this too often, because it feels like I am virtual signaling, but I think we help allot of the kids in the neighborhood. It is something we really like doing. Being a bike shop we naturally get kids in here. They come looking for work, small repairs, and stuff they do not have the money for. So, I think it’s really cool we're able to help them out, connect with them, and maybe be a positive influence and a safe place for them to come and get involved with bicycles.
(me)What are your goals for the next year?
(Andy)We want to continue to do vintage bikes, it is something we’ve done from the beginning. The pandemic has helped us double down on that, because getting new bikes has been difficult. At the same time we have also slowly been developing more effective and efficient ways of repairing old bikes. I would like to become more efficient in our process and to continue restoring older bikes, because it can be labor intensive.
(Me)Where do you see your business in 5 years?
(Andy)I would love to own the spot we are in. I would for sure like to stay in this neighborhood. I’d like the shop to be a bicycle wonderland when you walk in. I want to continue to do vintage restoration and a have a big operation aimed at that with that as the central theme of our business, with a larger space, more inventory, more employees. Sometimes I consider that maybe it’d be cool to do some kind of program to help the youth.
(me)What is your favorite thing about running your own business?
(Andy) I feel it's cliche to say, but since I decided to do my own thing, I don’t feel like I’m working like I did before I started my business, where it felt draining and very difficult to show up every day. Even though running your own business isn’t easy it doesn’t drain the life out of me, and I think I love that and I love the independence and the ability to be creative and decide which direction my business goes in.
(Me) What’s your biggest challenge within running your own business?
(Andy)Paperwork/ Clerical stuff. I do not like any of that. Accounting, anything I must do on a computer. I kind of realized that instead of painfully doing it poorly, I can just delegate it, and it is done efficiently.
(Me)What would be your number one suggestion to someone starting their own business?
(Andy)What I think worked for me, which may not work for everybody, but for me, once I found something that I felt an inclination towards, or a sense that I could do this; I just jumped in. I realized early on if I wanted it to be something it couldn’t be my side hustle. I couldn’t continue to give my energy to a 9-5 and try to do the bikes on the side. I was in my mid 30s so my energy level was going down, so I realized I had to completely devote all my creative energy and mental energy towards this or else it would never evolve.
(Me)Anything else about your business that you would like to add?
(Andy)We do not only restore bikes that we sell we also restore bikes for other people. So, if you have a bike that has been sitting up and you think it’s done for. Bring it by us before you decide that, and we can see if we can bring it back to life. We have done that for a few customers, and they have been very satisfied.
Thanks for coming to the blog and checking out this piece! If you want to help support Andy's business go like his instagram and face book pages or go to his shop and buy a dope bike! (also please excuse my grammar and spelling. I'm a photographer not a writer!)
Bokah Bikes is located: 4233 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117