David Schmidt and Julie Kloss started Dutch Bike Co. in 2007 with the intention of bringing simple & well designed bicycles to the American market from the Netherlands. The kind of bicycle that makes time pass slower and brings you in touch with your neighborhood. It’s been a strange and winding road since the beginning. When we placed our first order for an ocean shipping container with 50 bicycles we still didn’t have a location to land them. Julie wasn’t to thrilled about the prospect of stuffing them into our basement. We eventually found a cheap space in what was an old propeller shop in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, right on the water in the mix with the commercial fishing fleet. The fish boat vibe set the tone for what we were going to sell, a combination of utility and style.
At first, a large part of the business was shipping fully built bikes all over the country, building crazy plywood crates for the bikes like we were shipping pianos or something. I’m certain there were many customers who received these monstrosities on there doorstep who wondered what the hell they ordered. We eventually changed to custom cardboard boxes, but shipping was a big part of the business. In 2008 we opened a shop in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood and then eventually moved to Wicker Park. In retrospect, opening a shop there was a huge business mistake, it made us overextended with precious resources and ultimately we had to close it down in 2011, but what a great town.
In 2010 we built a new shop that included an espresso bar/cafe’ and wine bar which Julie ran and did all the baking for. It was a very cool space and a great combination with the bicycles. Julie’s baking was really well received and helped launch her successful catering business Miller’s Daughter which she runs to this day. In 2013 Deving Sletager joined the business as master mechanic, wheel building wizard and serious enthusiast to all things classic in bikes. We moved the shop across the street into an old machine shop with a roll up door and a crane. Back to the beginning of sorts.
It’s been a while since we imported bicycles from Holland and we’ve decided to focus on being a neighborhood bicycle shop which we’ve slowly morphed into over the years. Our new name Ballard Bike Co. reflects the neighborhood we’ve been in since the beginning.